Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Park Row (April 3, 2018)
A triumphant story about love, loss and finding hope—against all odds
“We looked down at the cliff jutting into the sea, a rubber boat full of kids going under the arch, and then you started running and jumping through the grass, dodging the rabbit holes, shouting at the top of your voice, so I started chasing you, trying to catch you, and we were laughing so hard as we ran and ran, kicking up rainbow showers in the leaves.”
Rob Coates feels like he’s won the lottery of life. There is Anna, his incredible wife, their London town house and, most precious of all, Jack, their son, who makes every day an extraordinary adventure. But when a devastating illness befalls his family, Rob’s world begins to unravel. Suddenly finding himself alone, Rob seeks solace in photographing the skyscrapers and clifftops he and his son Jack used to visit. And just when it seems that all hope is lost, Rob embarks on the most unforgettable of journeys to find his way back to life, and forgiveness.
We Own the Sky is a tender, heartrending, but ultimately life-affirming novel that will resonate deeply with anyone who has suffered loss or experienced great love. With stunning eloquence and acumen, Luke Allnutt has penned a soaring debut and a true testament to the power of love, showing how even the most thoroughly broken heart can learn to beat again.
“A breathtaking read that describes perfectly the joy and pain that comes with loving fully and all the compassion and forgiveness it requires. Brimming with hope to the very end.” —Steven Rowley, bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus
“Anyone who wishes David Nicholls would write faster needs to grab this with both hands. It’s a truly stunning achievement.” —Jill Mansell, Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay
do you remember, Jack, when we got back to the car park and you had fallen in the brambles and done yourself an injury. both hands, daddy, both hands, little red welts on your palms. so i kissed your fingers to take the owies away and you wrapped your arms around me, carefully planting two kisses on my neck. i remember, i can never forget. your kisses, like secret whispers. the gingerbread freckles on your face. your eyes, warm like the shallow end.
“You don’t look like a computer scientist,” she said.
A little tipsy, I had started talking to her at the bar in a student pub in Cambridge. It was in that postexam, preresults purgatory, a lazy, sun-kissed time, squeezing out the last of our student days.
“Because I don’t have a briefcase and a Lord of the Rings T-shirt?”
She smiled, not cruelly, but knowingly, as if this was the type of joke she had heard about herself. As she turned back to the bar to try to get a drink, I stole a glance at her. She was petite with black hair neatly tied back off her face. Her features were sharp but softened by her pale skin.
“I’m Rob, by the way,”
“Anna,” she said. “Pleased to meet you.”
I almost laughed. She sounded so formal, and I wasn’t sure if she was making a joke. “So what are you studying?” I fumbled, trying to think of something to say.
“Economics,” Anna said, squinting at me through her glasses.
“Actually, you’re supposed to say I don’t look like an economist.”
I looked at her neat hair, so black it was like looking in a mirror, her bag stuffed with books, the strap secured to the leg of the stool she was perching on. I smiled.
“But you do a little,” I said. “In a good way, I mean.”
Her eyes sparkled, and she opened her mouth as if she had thought of something to say, something that amused her, but then thought better of it.
I knew she was friends with Lola, the person whose birthday we were celebrating. They seemed unlikely friends. Hippy-dippy Lola, who loved to tell everyone that she was named after that Kinks song and would always sing it on request. Lola, who was known around town as the girl who got naked at the summer ball.
And then this Anna, with her sensible clothes and sturdy shoes. I had seen her around campus, often with a musical instrument strapped to her back. Not casually slung over one shoulder, but carefully and firmly attached. She always seemed to be walking with pronounced intent, as if she had a very urgent appointment.
“So what will you do with computer science?” she asked.
I was flustered, looked toward my friends at the quiz machine, not sure how to answer a question I thought was normally reserved for people who studied ancient history. There was something almost Edwardian about Anna—her puckered vowels and pristine consonants. She spoke with the precision and bearing of a character in an Enid Blyton novel. A little bit of a Goody Two-shoes.
“Maps,” I said.
Anna didn’t say anything. Her face was blank, unreadable.
“Have you heard of this new Google Maps?”
She shook her head.
“It’s been in the news a little recently. I’m writing some software connected to that.”
“So you’ll join a company then?” Anna asked.
“No. I’m going to start my own.”
“Oh,” she said, lightly touching the rim of her empty glass. “That sounds ambitious, although, in fairness, I don’t really know much about such things.”
“Can I see your phone?”
“I can show you what I mean…”
Anna looked confused, rummaged around in her bag, and produced an old Nokia.
“What?” she said, her grin revealing two almost symmetrical dimples on her cheeks. “It does everything I need.”
“I’m sure it does,” I said, taking it from her, my hand brushing her fingers.
“So…imagine in the future, you’ll have a much bigger screen here, perhaps even a touch screen, and somewhere here you’ll have a map. People, anyone, will be able to add things to the map, restaurants, their running routes, whatever they want. So I’m working on some software that lets you do that, where you can add things, customize the map how you want it.”
Anna looked bemused and touched the blue screen of her Nokia. “It sounds interesting,” she said, “although I am something of a Luddite. Will I still be able to send texts?”
“Yes,” I said, laughing a little. She was so dry, so straight-faced, I couldn’t tell if she was joking.
“Good. That’s a relief.”
About Luke Allnutt
Luke Allnutt grew up in the U.K. and lives and works in Prague.
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