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When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry
Young adult

When the Sky Fell on Splendor

Repeat author

Emily Henry is back at Book of the Month – other BOTMs include A Million Junes and Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation.

by Emily Henry

Excellent choice

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Quick take

When a bright object crashes into a small Ohio town, a group of teen investigators are catapulted into an unusual spotlight.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FastRead

    Fast read

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Supernatural

    Supernatural

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Movieish

    Movieish

Synopsis

Almost everyone in the small town of Splendor, Ohio, was affected when the local steel mill exploded. If you weren’t a casualty of the accident yourself, chances are a loved one was. That’s the case for seventeen-year-old Franny, who, five years after the explosion, still has to stand by and do nothing as her brother lies in a coma.

In the wake of the tragedy, Franny found solace in a group of friends whose experiences mirrored her own. The group calls themselves The Ordinary, and they spend their free time investigating local ghost stories and legends, filming their exploits for their small following of YouTube fans. It’s silly, it’s fun, and it keeps them from dwelling on the sadness that surrounds them.

Until one evening, when the strange and dangerous thing they film isn’t fiction—it’s a bright light, something massive hurdling toward them from the sky. And when it crashes and the teens go to investigate ... everything changes.

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Check out a preview of When the Sky Fell on Splendor.
When the Sky Fell on Splendor

One

The night of the crash started like most had that summer: with the six of us, and one mouth-breathing border collie, crammed into Remy’s clunky Geo Metro, rumbling down Old Crow Station Lane.

The mist was so thick it swallowed the headlights before they could reach the wall of corn on our right or the woods leaning close on our left, and the moisture was hissing off the asphalt like oil in a pan.

Handsome Remy was driving—he was the only one with a car—and Levi rode shotgun, scribbling notes on the script in his lap.

Side by side, the two of them looked more like an oddball pairing from a John Hughes movie than cousins.

Levi was a six-foot-three online shopping addict and wannabe director with a style aesthetic we’d affectionately dubbed “Technicolor Beach Boy” and a coif of reddish hair. He was also brave enough to own a lot of hats.

Remy, meanwhile, was on the shorter side of average with dark, wavy hair and a slim build he kept outfitted in three (seasonal) variations of a Canadian Tuxedo he’d pieced together from thrift stores, then blown out skateboarding. Because the first colors of fall had sneaked into the leaves, he’d swapped out his basic denim jacket for the one with the wool collar, and as if to spite him, Splendor Township was hotter than it had been all summer.

“What does everyone think of the ghost fart joke?” Levi asked, looking up from the script.

Sofía leaned around me to answer. “I vote we cut it.”

“Oh, do you?” Nick teased from the far side of the back seat. “Do you vote that, Supreme Court Justice Perez?”

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Why I love it

To be very honest, I was initially drawn to When the Sky Fell on Splendor because it has a UFO on the cover. I like stories about people who find meaning in shooting stars and strange lights in the night sky—but I also love stories about found families, and it was the characters who brought this novel to life for me.

The book focuses on a teenager named Franny and her group of friends, all of whom are pushing at the seams of small-town life while dealing with the effects of an unthinkable tragedy that struck their town years before. They call themselves The Ordinary, and they play at being ghosthunters on YouTube to stay entertained. At the start of the book, they witness a bonafide supernatural event that sends them on a high-stakes search for answers, dealing with men in black and psychic powers—not to mention their summer jobs—as tensions rise among the friends.

While there’s a mystery that keeps you guessing and an action-packed climax, the heart of this novel is the people who make up The Ordinary, lonely teenagers drawn together by loss. Emily Henry expertly articulates what it means to live with grief: to survive a tragedy and deal with what comes next. This is a sci-fi novel that is as nuanced as it is exciting, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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Member ratings (783)

  • Sheila L.

    Chicago, IL

    First sci fi that I’ve really loved. Alien-esque mystery, grief, small town drama. Hard to keep the chs straight at first but they’re all incredible by the end. Can’t wait to read more of her books.

  • Victoria M.

    Grapevine, TX

    Paranormal experiences with friendship and loss, you grow to love the characters and want them to stay together forever even though some are heading off to college shortly— similar to Stranger Things.

  • Faith G.

    Arvada, CO

    If Blake Crouch & Steven King wrote a YA book and then let Orson Scott Card add a few touches, this would be what they came up with. And it would be awesome. Enjoyable, thought-provoking, and GOOD.

  • Michelle G.

    Los Angeles, CA

    massively underrated emily henry outing, WTSFOS has a special place in my heart because it was my first henry read. a must-read for lovers of found family stories. henry books are so cinematic, too!

  • Jordan B.

    Allen, TX

    I will forever read anything written by Emily Henry. She puts so much emotion into her works that her characters feel real, and despite the magic going on, the situations seem realistic as well.

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