The Sky Above Us

Philomel. Nov. 2020. 384p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780525518037.
Gr 8 Up–A prop plane nosedives into the water as high schoolers on the beach watch in shock. The three boys in the plane, Shane, Israel, and Nate, were partying on the beach just hours before. Now they are dead, and no one knows why they were flying the plane. They leave behind three girls grappling with the aftermath. Izzy, Israel’s twin, is convinced that her brother isn’t dead, as she would surely feel the pain of his loss. Cass, Shane’s ex-girlfriend, struggles to forgive herself for cheating on him and causing their breakup. Janie, Nate’s next-door neighbor/friend/more, knew he was depressed after a soccer injury ended his future career, and regrets not pushing him to get help. The three girls work together to investigate the boys’ secrets, particularly Israel’s recurring nightmares of his death in a past life. All six major characters, and some minor ones as well, are strongly envisioned. Lund starts with present day, but moves back and forth with ease between the past and the present to help explain the boys’ motives and intentions. While the ending doesn’t neatly tie up the story, it does bring a realistic sense of closure for the reader. Izzy and Israel are Latinx, and while the other characters’ backgrounds are not mentioned in the book, Janie and Cass are described as “brassy-haired” and “blonde,” respectively.
VERDICT A compelling, well-voiced look at how teenagers deal with tragedy.

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