- Maryellen Larkin
- Stan Larkin
- Kay Larkin
- Carolyn Larkin
- Beverly Larkin
- Tom Larkin
- Mikey Larkin
- Joan Larkin
- Jerry Ross
- Grandpop and Grandmom
- Angela Terlizzi
- Karen Stohlman
- Karen King
- Wayne Philpott
Only in The Sky's the Limit
- Sophie: The named protagonist who travels to the past with a vintage watch containing a stopwatch function, the prize of a skiing competition. She wears eyeglasses. She resides in Cedar Top, North Carolina. Sophie's more passive than Emma and is talked into joining the ski team, as she wanted to make Emma happy, which she usually does when Emma sets her heart on something.
- Emma: Sophie's twin sister and best friend. She's more competitive than Sophie and has persuaded her to join the ski team.
- Gran: Sophie and Emma's grandmother. She used to live on her own and is now living with Sophie's family, moving into Sophie's room. Before retiring, she was an archeology professor and had traveled around the world. Her first name is Nancy, as revealed in one of the story endings.
- Coach Stanislav: Sophie and Emma's ski coach.
- Daria: The daughter of one of Gran's friends. She once entered Emma's room and damaged her laptop, infuriating Emma and Sophie.
Opening and Potential Plot Events
Sophie describes how it feels to be skiing, comparing it to flying. She reminds herself that she's in a skiing competition, which enables her from choosing her own trials instead of following a planned race route and making sure she follows it exactly as it’s marked. The main reason Sophie is racing is because she was persuaded by her twin sister, Emma, to join the ski team, as Emma wanted them to be on the team together. As the trail breaks into two branches, Sophie is blinded by the sun as it reflects off the snow that swirls around her. Unable to see any route markers (and assuming she’d seen someone waving at her) Sophie takes the left branch, finding herself in dense woods and later airborne. She continued down the mountain and reaches the finish line first, winning the race. As she makes her way to the awards platform, Sophie looks for Emma and is congratulated by her team mates. The judge awards her a prize: a vintage watch with a stopwatch function.
Just as Sophie straps the watch on her wrist, Emma approaches her and accuses her of cheating, stating she won because she had taken a shortcut. Sophie feels humiliated and questions why Emma would claim she cheated, wondering if the tension between them is the reason, or if she lied because she’s angry. Sophie attempts to defend herself but is interrupted by Coach Stanislav, who insists she should be honest if she cheated. Sophie defends herself again and the judge, after explaining to Coach Stanislav she’ll look into the situation, holds her hand out for the watch.
As she removes the wrist strap off, Sophie accidentally presses the stopwatch button. After a second, she finds herself at the Larkins’ house, standing on the driveway in her snowsuit. She observes the warm weather and the palm trees, flowers and lemon bushes bordering the driveway. Looking at her watch again, she questions of it had not only transported her, but if it could also transport her back to the moment before she decided to take the left breach on the trail. She pushes the stopwatch button again and finds herself at the awards platform, at the exact moment she left. Sophie yearns to explain her mistake, but feels hopeless and overwhelmed. Not wanting to remain at the ski slope, she presses the stopwatch button and finds herself on the Larkins' driveway again. As she admires the Airstream trailer, Maryellen (whom she doesn't know yet) exits through the side door with Beverly, Tom, Mikey and Scooter (again, whom she doesn't know yet). Maryellen introduces herself and her siblings, and Mikey runs over to Sophie, flinging his arms around her legs.
After this opening, events vary according to choices made.
- As Betty's niece, Sophie accompanies the Larkins on a road trip to Washington D.C., first stopping in Georgia. At Grandpop and Grandmom's cabin, she and Maryellen can either go ice skating or downhill skiing.
- As Betty's niece, Sophie bikes around Cedar Top, North Carolina with Maryellen. The girls visit the house Sophie's grandmother occupied and meet Nancy, an aspiring archaeologist.
- As Betty's niece, Sophie tours Washington D.C. with the Larkins, visiting the landmarks and then exploring an art museum with Maryellen and Carolyn.
- As Betty's niece, Sophie and the Larkins visit the Naval Observatory and witness a lunar eclipse.
- As a new girl in the neighborhood, Sophie accompanies Maryellen, Beverly, Tom and Mikey to the beach. She resists wading in the water at first, and later attempts to conquers her fear on a second trip.
- As a new girl in the neighborhood, Sophie helps Maryellen with a school presentation, to help ease her fear of public speaking. She attends school the following day, meeting Angela, Wayne and the Karens, and watches Maryellen's presentation.
- As a new girl in the neighborhood, Sophie helps Maryellen with an entry for a contest at a new plant store; Maryellen wins and received a twenty five dollar cash prize. Online endings include preparing for Thanksgiving dinner or visiting Cypress Gardens and participating in a water-skiing lesson.
Regardless of the ending that is arrived at, Sophie eventually returns to her own time using the watch, and returns at the exact moment she left. She makes proper goodbyes to Maryellen and often others she has encountered, and generally says she has to go back to her family (her family being either in Washington D.C. or moving to Cedar Top, North Carolina, depending on which identity Sophie assumed). Sophie returns with a new-found perspective of her life. This often includes gaining self-confidence and learning how to stand up for oneself, being able to follow one's own decisions, and learning not to judge others over assumptions.
Discusses the role of women during the 1950s. Topics covered:
- Children being able to travel freely around their neighborhood and to parks, beaches and stores without parental supervision.
- The ideal goal for girls and women being to stay at home and raise a family, and the portrayal of idea families in television shows.
- Difficulties women had with maintaining their careers due to the expectation of women having to leave their jobs following marriage.
- The popularity of jingles in the 1950s, leading some businesses to hold contests and invite customers to make up slogans or jingles for their products.
- The lack of opportunities for women to pursue careers in profession that were traditionally limited to men, such as doctors, lawyers, scientists and professors.
- Barbara McClintock, a botanist and genetics pioneer who won the Nobel Prize in 1983 because of her discovery that genes control physical characteristics.
- Other leading scientists of the time, including as Dian Fossey, Rachel Carlson and Vera Rubin, and their discoveries.
- Because the branch where Sophie meets her grandmother Nancy as a child creates a stable time loop and follows through on the book's foreshadowing of an important astronomical event, it would normally be considered the closest thing to a true ending; however, Maryellen's bicycle is destroyed in this story path and she is seen riding it just fine in The Finders-Keepers Rule. This is the clearest indication that the Journey books are not canon to the main series (as many previous books could simply fit into the canon with any story path and do not contradict it).
- Page 164: I get that familiar funny feeling when I read it: Tuesday, November 29, 1955.
- Pg 19: Beverly trots off, and Maryellen explains, "...And we have another older sister, too. Her name is Joan and she's married to Jerry and goes to college..." Joan and Jerry were married in Taking Off.
- Pg. 9:
Tom, the boy in the fireman hat, asks, "What's your name?"
"Sophie," I manage to choke out.
- Pg. 9: The littlest boy, Mikey, runs forward and flings his arms around my legs, practically knocking my eyeglasses off in the exuberance of his welcome.