Jukebooks: Signed, Skye Harper by Carol Lynch Williams

Signed, Skye Harper by Carol Lynch WilliamsSkye Harper is a fake name. It’s the name of a non-person, someone without family or responsibilities. To fifteen year-old Winston, it’s the name of a mother who left eleven years ago, and is not welcome back. Then Nanny, Winston’s grandmother and caretaker, gets a postcard from Las Vegas. Skye wants to come home. And Nanny decides to “borrow” a motor home to drive out and get her.

As it turns out, they have a stowaway for the trip. Steve Simmons is the teen son of the motor home”s owner, and he’s up for a road trip. Winston finds Steve a happy addition, especially when he gets out his guitar. It’s 1972, and everyone knows the words to “Me and Bobby McGee,” a ballad written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster, as recorded by Janis Joplin. It’s the perfect road song, languid and bittersweet.

Joplin had died in 1970, but “Me and Bobby McGee” hit the top of the charts posthumously the following year. In 2011, Ann Angel’s biography, Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing, won YALSA’s Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award. Below are scenes from Joplin’s life, clearly showing the effects of drug abuse.

Diane Colson, currently reading Clariel by Garth Nix.