Under A Painted Sky

Under A Painted Sky

Book - 2015
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From the author of Outrun the Moon , Stacey Lee's debut novel is a powerful story about love, friendship, and sacrifice. Perfect for fans of Code Name Verity.

"This moving novel will captivate you."--Buzzfeed.com

All Samantha wanted was to move back to New York and pursue her music, which was difficult enough being a Chinese girl in Missouri, 1849. Then her fate takes a turn for the worse after a tragic accident leaves her with nothing and she breaks the law in self-defense. With help from Annamae, a runaway slave she met at the scene of her crime, the two flee town for the unknown frontier.
But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls. Disguised as Sammy and Andy, two boys heading for the California gold rush, each search for a link to their past and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. Until they merge paths with a band of cowboys turned allies, and Samantha can't stop herself from falling for one. But the law is closing in on them and new setbacks come each day, and the girls will quickly learn there are not many places one can hide on the open trail.

Winner of the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award
An ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults Pick
An Amelia Bloomer Book
Publisher: New York, NY :, G. P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA),, ©2015.
ISBN: 9780399168031
Branch Call Number: YA LEE
Characteristics: 374 pages ; 22 cm.


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Olivia_H_ Jul 03, 2018

Dressed as boys, Samantha and her friend Annamae, a runaway slave, escape to the California gold rush to search for information about their past and to be safe.

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Jan 14, 2021

I loved this book. I liked the character development and it gave a unique story set along the Oregon trail. I actually really wanted to see a sequel and see the characters later - after they made it to the west.

ChristchurchTeens Sep 01, 2020

Set in 1885 on the Oregon trail, this is the gripping adventure of two girls disguised as boys on the run.

Aug 03, 2020

I loved this book. Annamae and Samantha are wonderful characters with a compelling friendship, the supporting characters are fun, and the plot moves at a nice pace.

Aug 28, 2019

Hovering between 4 and 5 stars. An amazing frontier tale of two girls on the run disguised as Argonauts. The very first sentence sucked me right in: "They say death aims only once and never misses, but I doubt Ty Yorkshire thought it would strike with a scrubbing brush." I loved getting to know Samantha (Sammy) and Annamae (Andy). Stacey Lee helped us to become acquainted with them as each imparted wisdom from their own culture and backgrounds. The addition of music to the plot with Sammy's violin gave some fortuitous openings for interaction with other travelers and invited the reader to feel the book more deeply. Perilous trail events keep the story moving. The inclusion of each main characters birth year animal contributed to character development and increased our knowledge of eastern culture. Would have been great to have a trail map to refer to. There were times when I really wanted to place them on a map. I want to read more Stacey Lee and look forward to discussing this book at my book group today!

Apr 13, 2018

Devastated by the death of her father and having just killed a man self-defense, a fifteen-year-old flees St. Joseph, Missouri. Samantha, a Chinese-American, and Annamae, a fellow fugitive escaping a life of slavery, disguise themselves as teenage boys and join the throngs of wagon trains heading west on the Oregon Trail in 1849. Samantha, now "Sammy," hopes to catch up with a family friend, while "Andy" yearns to reconnect with her brother. When an opportunity arises to join up with a group of three teenage cowboys, they hesitate: are they convincing, or will their pretense be discovered?

You know that book which is so gripping that even when you aren't reading, you're thinking about when your next opportunity to crack it open again? This was one of those for me. I could not put down this fast-paced, engaging adventure. I love Sammy's pluck and Andy's calm strength and wisdom. A quick, fun, entertaining read -- strongly recommended.

OPL_AmyW Mar 08, 2018

For those older millennials already nostalgic for the Oregon Trail playing days of their youth, this sweet tale of two teenage girls, disguised as boys, making their way west will absolutely resonate.

Aug 08, 2017

You have to suspend disbelief that 3 grown men would fail to notice their traveling companions are females rather than boys. But, do give it a try. I loved the book.

LPL_KimberlyL Jul 13, 2017

Thelma & Louise meets Oregon Trail (the old school video game), with a little Some Like It Hot thrown in there for good measure. An inter-sectional old western about a young Chinese girl escaping her past, and a runaway slave looking for a better future. This book has humor, survival, adventure, and loads of friendship. I'm glad I read this for YA for Grownups book club, and I would highly recommend!

Jun 03, 2017

This book is a wittily funny, entertaining, and easy read. I loved the references to the traditional Chinese culture and zodiac, and the characters were all really unique and distinguishable. Parts of the novel really cracked me up. I didn't expect to like this 'cuz I'm not particularly interested in the Wild West or anything to do with cowboys. But! I really did enjoy it. The action is really engaging, and I think that's really what drove the book. Things are always happening, and there wasn't really any part that made me feel bored. A nice, relaxing read.

Apr 24, 2017

Annamae and Samantha are both on the run: Annamae as a runaway slave, Samantha as a fugitive after killing her attempted rapist. Both find refuge with a trio of cowboys: Cay, Peety and West. What transpires is their quest across the plains, and the "band of brothers" they form as a quintet.

An atmospheric novel, with lovely prose, well developed characters, and a page turner - I had to suspend belief on much of the story line: an abundance of food and water on their trek (have I read too many Donner party accounts?), miraculous escapes from the law, lightening strike survival, among others, that I was often eye-rolling some of the narrative.

That being said, I loved both Annamae and Samantha and their relationship. True Friends.

I would definitely read this author again

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Jun 03, 2017

jmli thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

Melissa_RA_Librarian thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


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Jun 03, 2017

We follow Samantha and Annamae's journey to find Annamae's brother, Isaac, and Samantha's father's friend, Mr. Trask. On the way, they meet a group of cowboys and disguise themselves as boys.

After her father is killed in a fire and she kills a man who attempts to rape her, Chinese American Sammy escapes with the help of Annamae who is a runaway slave. Both girls know that the punishment if they are caught will be death. Together they head west along the Oregon Trail, hoping to find Annamae's brother and Sammy's father's business partner so they can start a new life. Along they way they fall in with a group of young cowboys, who help them survive the dangers of the trail.


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Jun 03, 2017

Andy announces, "Tonight we's got a romantic story."

"Oh good," says Cay. "Come on, hold my hand, West. That'll make it extra-special."


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