Where the Sky Doesn’t End by Ron Nichols


      This novel tells the poignant story of three people who seemed to have nothing in common - yet when their lives fatefully intersect in Where the Sky Doesn't End, the characters ultimately help inspire each other to realize their own potential and to reach their desired dreams.  

     The youngest, Aria, is a daring, fiery redhead.  Though small in stature, Aria had monumental-sized bravery and spirit.   Aria's need for recognition and adventure made her feel like she never fit into the world she was born into  -  too different from the other girls and no longer accepted as "one of the boys."  Though Aria had two loving parents, they never understood her restlessness and her deep-rooted need for independence.

     Brendan, also somewhat of a misfit, just wanted to protect his mother, go through life "unnoticed" and be left alone to live in the preferred world of his daydreams.   Brendan could not stop thinking about the wonders of aviation, following in his deceased father's footsteps, and living his dream of flying an airplane.

    Mr. Washington, the school janitor, was an humble, honest, unassuming man who lived his life with integrity.  Despite his positive outlook, Mr. Washington still woke up each day feeling burdened -  haunted by the heavy weight of a past unintentional mistake.  Though able to experience a great part of history as a former Tuskegee Airman mechanic, Mr. Washington is still unable to let go of what he perceives as his greatest failing - and his contribution to a close friend's dream never coming into fruition.   

     When Aria and Brendan both begin helping Mr. Washington after school as part of their punishment for misbehaviors, they begin slowly learning about each other's lives.  Eventually each character serves at some point in the novel as a mentor to the other as the close relationships the three develop will help inspire each to  change his/her current outlook and to realize the potential of turning dreams into a reality. 

    Brendan helps Mr. Washington let go of the mistake he made in his past in order to embrace pride and honor while remembering his remarkable achievements as an integral part of the African-American Tuskegee flight crew.  Aria, inspired by Brendan's passion for flight, eventually gains the notoriety and fame she craves, but it is the writing that will cleanse her and help her calm the fire within her soul.   Brendan is also well onto his way of making a reality his dream of becoming a pilot and leaving a life that is now devoid of any happiness- thanks to the hope and help given to him by both Aria and Mr. Washington.

All stories don't have happy endings, though, and this story (like life) is riddled with tragedy.  In Where the Sky Doesn't End, the reader can still perceive how the lives of each of character is enriched through their shared experiences and learned insights.  Though some mistakes can never be undone and all our wants may not be accomplished during our lifetime, it is the experience of living a full life - a life which embodies love, support, hope and dreams - where one's true happiness lies.