Book Review: Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne

Chlorine Sky Review

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Staff Photo by Kayla Hartman

Book send by the Random House Children’s Books high school newspaper book review program

Kayla Hartman, Editor: Virginia Bates

Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne follows the coming of age story of a young black girl and a part of her journey of self-discovery. Browne is an educator, organizer, and poet. She authored Woke Baby and wrote the poem “Black Girl Magic” in 2018. In this book, the reader is clued to the main character’s (who goes unnamed until the end of the book) thoughts as she goes through a breakup with her best friend, Lay Li. 

Even in its short span, the book covers multiple topics that many teens commonly deal with; colorism, sexism, bullying, low confidence, toxic relationships, familial hardships, and more. Browne also showcases how basketball was used as an escape for our main character and how helpful it was in grounding her during difficult moments: which many readers will relate to when they think of their own passions. 

The opening of the book was the most striking section to me. We hear the main character digest the changes she sees in her best friend Lay Li and the effect that it’s having on their relationship. She and Lay Li are in a pool with other kids, when a boy makes fun of her for being dark-skinned. Lay Li doesn’t defend Sky, and the story continues to unfold in a way that manages to explore more than one side of both main characters. 

Although not plot-heavy, the writing style and imagery within the book is entrancing:

“I’m in the mall now/But in my head/I’m in the pool after practice/& I get the same calming feeling I get/When I jump into the deep end blue/& sink until I rise again”

There are plenty of other gorgeous lines that make Chlorine Sky entrancing, despite having a slower moving story than the average.

This book was a quick but impactful read, with inspiring messages about sticking up for yourself and navigating painful rifts in all types of relationships. We see her delve into her passions as an escape and fully comprehend the developments in her life. Young-adult readers will either find it relatable, eye-opening or both.

Browne acknowledges author Jacqueline Woodson for helping to pave the way for her poetry, and if you enjoy Woodson’s work, you are likely to have fun with Browne’s as well. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo could be a great next step if you find yourself wanting more after Chlorine Sky!

This review was written in exchange for a copy from Penguin Random Publishing House.