When the Sky Fell on Splendor
By Emily Henry
Published March 12, 2019 by Razorbill
A Million Junes by Emily Henry was one of my favorite books of 2017, so I was really excited for her latest release, When the Sky Fell on Splendor. Splendor is a very different book on the surface. It’s ostensibly a science fiction story, with things falling out of the sky, conspiracy theories, and government agents in pursuit, but this is really a book about broken families, the bonds of friendship, and healing from trauma.
Five years ago, there was an explosion at the Splendor steel mill that killed or injured many people. Frannie’s brother Mark has been in a coma since the explosion, and her mother left the family a few months later. She and her other brother Arthur are part of a tight-knit group of friends, all of whom were affected by the explosion. Frannie, Arthur, Remy, Nick, Levi, and Sofia call themselves the Ordinary, and they make movies they post on YouTube. One late summer night, they’re working on their latest film when something comes out of the sky, hitting a power station and knocking the friends out for six hours. When they wake up, they all have strange scars and something more, each of them gaining some sort of power or change from whatever fell from the sky.
The story goes into science fiction territory at this point, with mysterious things caught on video, conspiracy theories, and government agents in pursuit. But this is really about Frannie and her relationships. All of the friends lost something after the explosion, especially Frannie who blames herself for her mother leaving, thinking that she expected too much of her mother. In the wake of the event, the group splinters. Arthur is obsessed with using the event for fame. Nick drops out of the group completely. Frannie is terrified by what’s happening to her and withdraws from her friends.
This is ultimately a book about a found family. This is a group of kids who came together in the wake of a tragedy, and their bonds are so beautiful. It really captures the feeling of being young and having a crew that you can depend on for anything, but also the very real fears associated with high school ending, friends leaving for college, and lives changing. It’s a really lovely book.
I received an ARC from a trade with another reviewer.