After reading Mia McKenzie's Skye Falling, the #ReadWithMC community overwhelmingly agreed that McKenzie's latest has all of the components of a great novel—a refreshingly original storyline (hello, reunion between a woman and her donor egg 12 years later!), highly-relatable (though sometimes unlikeable) characters, Black queer representation (main character Skye in all of her wit and glory), and a setting that displays the heart of its community (Philly residents will stan!).
The novel has multiple storylines, but it all begins with a surprise visit from Skye's biological 12-year-old daughter, a.k.a. "her egg," which she sold in her 20s, and from there we get to enter Skye's chaotic world. Though Skye is incredibly frustrating at times, readers learned to embrace her messiness, which ultimately makes her who she is. "While the plot is unique and engaging, the character development was the real win for me," says one reviewer. "I will be thinking about Skye and hoping that in my imaginary world where she continues to exist, she is holding close to the people who want to be there to catch her when she falls."
Learn more about Skye and find out exactly what readers loved about Marie Claire's July book club pick, below.
"I didn’t expect to fall head-first into this book. I opened it on my phone yesterday and just kept flipping pages. Skye Falling drops us in Skye’s world, just as she’s home in Philly for a few weeks before her next trip hosting travel adventures around the world. She meets a young girl, Vicky, who has been looking for her after finding out Skye was her egg donor. For much of the book, we accompany Skye as she negotiates what creating a relationship with this kid means, especially as someone who is best at running away. Mia Mckenzie does an excellent job at layering all of the familial and friendship entanglements that challenge Skye. Each relationship has tensions and traumas, which McKenzie doesn’t force into healing for the purposes of the storyline, but rather allows the consequences of each persons actions to have weight, while giving each person a space to be human, forgive, and grow.
There are lots of interesting narrative choices in this book as well that puzzled and delighted me as I read from a writer’s lens. There are chapters where Skye switches into the present tense, directly addresses the reader, and breaks down her internal thoughts in numbered lists. For a dialogue-driven text, it gave a chance for the reader to build a connection to Skye who could otherwise feel cold or distant, which is smart on McKenzie’s part.
Also, representation! McKenzie writes queer love in a way that gave me butterflies, full of the nuances of crushes and consent that I wish we saw more of." —@mixedreader
"This is a funny, fast-paced, heartfelt book that centers Black queer women and reads like a love letter to West Philly. Skye, a Black lesbian in her late 30s, is hesitantly forging a relationship with a 12-year-old girl who was conceived with her donor egg. As she tentatively settles back into her hometown for the first time in years, she’s forced to confront all that she’s been avoiding.
Things I loved:
—The engaging first-person POV: lots of sarcastic quips, occasionally breaking the fourth wall, and quickly oscillating between cheesy humor and candid realizations. For fans of Sam Irby.
—This book handled a lot of subjects in a nuanced and sensitive way. I loved the way two medical situations were discussed throughout:
➡️ The impact of Faye and Cynthia’s family history of cancer: grieving the loss of loved ones, fearing their own diagnoses, making life decisions based on that risk. As a cancer genetic counselor, I’d consider sharing this with patients. I think it would be really validating, especially since media representations of familial cancer often stop at white celebrities.
➡️ Skye’s challenging relationship with her newly-disabled mother: far from a straightforward disability narrative, this highlighted the messy nuances of having somebody in your life who really hurt you, but is now in need of your help. A situation where you’ll never get an apology for the irreparable harm they did to you, and and you have to decide if you can still move forward together.
—There’s a sweet sapphic subplot, and I loved the inclusion of sex scenes that aren’t just magically perfect from beginning to end.
—Casual lesbian, bi, and trans rep! Untranslated Spanish dialogue!
I did find the commentary on gentrification to be somewhat lacking—while it spoke a lot about the changing demographics of Philly, there were a few lines that implied that new businesses being Black-owned made up for gentrification. Gentrification is an issue of race and class, and I personally wanted more exploration about class and the issues with Black capitalism. But also one contemporary fiction book can’t do it all lol." —@suzyreadsbooks
"Bahni Turpin did phenomenal in narrating the novel, especially Skye’s inner voice. This novel had me laughing out loud! Skye lets us into her inner and most deep thoughts. Many things many will also think but never speak about.
Skye takes us back to her old hood in Philly where it’s a very small town, revealing her journey of being queer, having family issues, being non-committal...and then later searing for love and family.
The storyline is brilliantly fresh and original. Who would think of a storyline involving one who donates eggs, only to have the egg come track her down years later in life? This is an interesting storyline that could oddly happen in real life! I highly recommended this read." —@mae.rox.wanders
"Skye is the very definition of a free bird—and this bird, you cannot change. At nearly 40, she still lives up to her junior high superlative of 'Most Likely to Be Single.' She runs a travel company that takes her to exotic destinations, returning to her Philly hometown only to regroup between trips. Imagine her surprise when she meets Vicky, her 'egg'—a.k.a. biological daughter from a mid-twenties egg donation to a friend. Skye decides to give this whole meaningful relationship thing a try and surprise, surprise, it's a bumpy ride.
I picked this book because I also love Philadelphia—a lot of my family lives in that area, and I was intrigued to read about a character so different from myself. Skye is frustrating at times, especially when she tries to escape hard conversations via a bathroom window, but I really warmed up to her over the course of the novel. She's been through a lot in her life and put up walls as a defense mechanism. Skye's queer and Black identity allowed for the exploration of deep issues like gentrification and racism, taking this into the realm of literary fiction.
I enjoyed seeing Skye's interactions with Vicky—these were entertaining but also indicative of personal growth. Vicky has plenty of tween attitude, making her a very memorable character. And of course, I can't forget about Philly—the city is practically another character in the book. I would recommend this book to readers who like character-driven novels and don't mind unlikeable characters." —@maryreadstoomuch
"Raving about a current read can be risky, right? What if you’re loving it but then it goes downhill? After I posted about how much I was enjoying this yesterday, with 100 pages to go, I worried a bit that the end would let me down. But it didn’t! I loved it all the way through.
Skye is a queer Black woman in her late 30s. She is hilarious, independent, and unapologetically herself. She is also kind of a mess. With lingering hurt and resentment from her past, she actively avoids deep connections with people. And, running a travel business that keeps her away from her home base in Philly for months at a time, she’s pretty good at it.
If Skye were my friend or family member, truthfully, I’d be frustrated with her. So often she thinks the right thing, but then says or does the exact opposite. She’s the friend that you’ve known and loved forever, but she just can’t seem to pull herself together and you’re kind of sick of it. But as a reader I must protect her at all costs, regardless of her flaws. She’s not ignoring my texts and showing up drunk at my events so it’s fine.
In her 20s, Skye donated her eggs to a friend struggling to conceive. Now one of those eggs is a curious and clever 12-year-old girl named Vicky who just skipped her way into Skye’s life. Begrudgingly, Skye attempts to establish something like a relationship with Vicky. It’s unexpected, complicated, awkward...and all kinds of beautiful.
Speaking of awkward, Skye recently hit on a stranger at a record store who turns out to be Vicky’s aunt. Of course this happens. Skye is the Queen of Awkward. While the plot is unique and engaging, the character development was the real win for me. I will be thinking about Skye and hoping that in my imaginary world where she continues to exist, she is holding close to the people who want to be there to catch her when she falls." —@angieoverbooked
"Skye moves through her life solo, living out of a suitcase and avoiding all types relationships familial and romantic. That is until one day on one of her brief stints in her hometown of Philly, a 12-year-old girl comes up to Skye and tells her she’s her egg. Skye then decides maybe now is the time to build a meaningful relationship, but she quickly realizes things aren’t all that easy.
I really enjoyed this book, but it definitely had its pros and cons. On the plus side, this was a really unique story and I found Skye’s personality really shone through the narration. On the other hand, I feel like it took me a LONG time to warm up to her, so I definitely get why not everyone is loving it. Skye Falling deals with racism, biphobia, transphobia, abuse, neglect, and police violence, but also skillfully weaves in humor so not to make it too heavy. This was a delightful book about community and the importance of family, and I’m truly glad I gave it a chance." —@nycbookfriends
"What’s the last book that you read that made you smile throughout? For me, it is hands down Skye Falling by Mia McKenzie. The book follows 40ish Skye, a Philly native, who spends most of the year running her travel company, but every three months, she visits her hometown and stays at her friend's B&B. Skye has perfected being aloof, awkward, and generally she keeps everyone at arms-length. However, one day while back in Philadelphia, Vicky shows up and introduces herself as Skye’s egg—a.k.a. the egg Skye gave to her friend Cynthia so she could conceive a child; and to make matters more awkward, Skye has a crush on Vicky’s aunt/guardian.
I enjoyed reading this book a lot, although I may be biased, because I live in Philly and I love how the city is embraced in this book. If you are looking for a funny, quirky book that embraces being your authentic self then I recommend you read this book!
The Food: In the book, for Skye’s birthday dinner they have sausage with onions and peppers, corn, and sweet potatoes, which I recreated. I made sheet pan sausage and it is super simple.
1 small Vidalia onion (or ½ large one), sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Sweet and spicy peppers of your choice (I did sweet peppers, red chile peppers, and shishto), sliced
Italian Sausage links (I did 2 sweet Chicken Italian Sausages and 2 Hot Chicken Italian Sausages)
Preheat oven to 425°. On a sheet pan lined with foil, add onions and peppers and drizzle with olive oil and then season with salt and pepper.
Poke the sausage with the tip of a paring knife a couple of times. Place sausage on top of onions and peppers, cook for 25-30 minutes, flipping over half-way.
If your sausages have not browned fully, at the end of cooking broil for 3-5 minutes." —@book.to.bowl
"CW: death as a result of cancer, hospitalization, strained parental relationships, infidelity, traumatic brain injury, childhood trauma, police brutality.
Skye lives life on her own terms. Owning and operating a travel business for Black travelers called 'We Outchea,' she spends most of her time traveling, returning to Philly every few months before taking off again. At 38 and three quarters—"NOT almost f***ing 40"), she will have you know—she meets a 12-year-old girl named Vicky who tells her, "I used to be your egg." Throw in the facts that the woman Skye failed to pick up days earlier is the girl's aunt, and Skye's brother is trying to get in touch while her mother is being strangely kind, and you have a 'blender on high with the lid off' type of situation.
Skye is honest and hilarious, her friends support and challenge her, and this book will make you feel things—if nothing else, wildly entertained. This book is such a journey. It's hard to describe without giving things away, but it's 100 percent worth it." —@theocean.rose