I’m Liberty Johansen and I’m going to change the way people look at the night sky. I’m going to free them of old-constellation rules and teach them to draw their own maps because the sky is trying to tell them something…

The Year We Fell From Space is Amy Sarig King’s second middle-grade novel. The world falls apart when Liberty Johansen’s parents sit her and her sister down to tell them her dad is moving out.

But Liberty’s dad is the person who the budding-astronomer shared her star gazing with, he was her “guiding star”. Everything changes the day Liberty’s dad leaves, it was like Liberty fell from space.

What really struck me about this book was the way King (no relation to me) portrayed Liberty’s internal speech. As adults, it’s easy to forget how acutely sensitive children are to family breakdowns, everything really does change for them and children have to learn how to navigate their feelings, the changing relationships within the family, and still function at school and outside the home.

The depiction of Liberty is openly honest. I could totally relate to her mixed-up feelings of anger and frustration. Add to that, the social terrain of Liberty’s school life (with its own set of problems) and it’s a wonder that any children survive their parents’ separation and divorce. King has captured Liberty’s interior angst perfectly. But the crux of this book is the portrayal of Liberty’s dad and his struggles with depression and anxiety, and how it affects the whole family. King sensitively depicts depression and gently points to ways to seek help.

I loved this book. I’ve been a fan of King’s work for years, she tells a cracking story while also tackling societal issues in unobtrusive and non-didactic ways.

Bravo, King on this tender sensitively told story about a young girl reaching for the stars.

My thanks to the team at Text Publishing for this advance copy.

Publisher’s blurb:

Liberty Johansen is going to change the way we look at the night sky. Most people see the old constellations, the things they’ve been told to see. But Liberty sees new patterns, pictures and possibilities. She’s an exception.

Some other exceptions:

Her dad, who gave her the stars. Who moved out months ago and hasn’t talked to her since.

Her mom, who’s happier since he left, even though everyone thinks she should be sad and lonely.

And her sister, who won’t leave their house.

Liberty feels like her whole world is falling from space. Can she map a new life for herself and her family before they spin too far out of reach?