YA Book Review: It Came From the Sky by Chelsea Sedoti – 4 stars

As many of you who follow my blog regularly already know, I read a lot with my 12-year-old son. He’s a very advanced reader and we’ve been reading together since he was a baby. These days, he’s usually reading something on his own, something for school and something out loud with me. It Came From the Sky is a book that he chose from my ARC collection (Thank you, Sourcebooks!) to read as his ‘choice’ book for 8th Grade Enriched English. I usually try to read along (seperately) so we can discuss the book together and so that I can spot any tricky topics or confusing bits that I might need to help clarify. Most of the time, I must admit, I enjoy the books he chooses. Occasionally, I don’t enjoy the school-assigned books (I’m thinking Call of the Wild and Treasure Island here…call me a philistine!) but between the great characters and the emotional content in the Middle Grade and YA selections he makes, I’m generally pretty pleased to read along with him.

It Came From the Sky did not disappoint. I had previously read Chelsea Sedoti’s As You Wish on my own and found myself charmed and intrigued by her work. I wasn’t surprised to find the It Came From the Sky was similarly intriguing and contained lots of lovable characters and surprising plot points.

In general, It Came From the Sky focuses on two brothers, Ishmael and Gideon, who find themselves the masterminds of biggest hoax ever played on their town. Their family, Mom, Dad and sister, Maggie, are all portrayed as part of the story in different ways and each has a unique story trajectory that both contributed to the overall plot and stood alone in keeping me interested in this amusing book.

A few of my favorite things about this YA novel:

  1. Gideon is portrayed as a gay, science-minded junior in high school who probably registers somewhere on the autism spectrum. The great part about his character, however, is that neither his sexual preference nor his neuro-atypicality, while germain to the story, are treated as particularly noteworthy. That’s just who Gideon is. The fact that he has a boyfriend was actually so minimally highlighted at the beginning of the book that my son (who had never heard the name Gideon before) assumed heterosexuality and thought he was a girl for a couple of chapters.
  2. The Hofstadt family feels real. Mom and Dad have inherited some money and a family farm and aren’t pressed to have careers outside of the home so Dad stays home with the kids while Mom is incredibly involved in a multi-level marketing business/scheme. The dynamic that occurs between them and between them and their children is believable, heartwarming and amusing. It didn’t surprise me at all that, in the midst of this major hoax, Mom and Dad are aware that Gideon and Ishmael are in over their heads but refuse to acknowledge the situation to ‘teach them a lesson.’ I could relate to that kind of parenting and loved Sedoti made that editorial choice.
  3. This is primarily a story about two brothers but the women are not afterthoughts in this story. Sister Maggie has her own basket of cats that she is wrangling throughout the story (much to her brothers’ surprise) and Gideon’s closest friends Cassie and Arden are strong, determined young women who are very different in their approaches to life. Their relationships with Gideon as well as their ‘stories’ outside of his hoax are integral to the plot and to the ultimate resolution of Gideon and Ishmael’s big mess!
  4. This story is told in an interesting format: journal notes, online stories, blog comments, etc. make the story move along quickly and kept me intrigued and entertained by the whole cast of characters.
  5. There’s a little folk tale that runs underneath that main plot and ties the whole thing together. It never took my attention away from the story of Gideon and Ishmael but it left me smiling at the end when I saw was Sedoti was able to do!

The book is 452 pages start to finish but I was flabbergasted when I actually went back to look up that number. It reads so quickly – very short chapters punctuated by interviews, text messages, etc. keep it moving and the plot thickens with every page you turn.

While it may never qualify as ‘serious literary fiction,’ there’s something to be said for an interesting, amusing story told in such a way that you come to care about the characters and the story’s outcome. I highly recommend this book for young men and women who are looking for a fun romp of a read that will leave them amused, educated and feeling satisfied at the end of the book! And, if you happen to be the parent of one of those young men or women, by all means, read along! You won’t regret it!

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