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Things that Fall from the Sky by Selja Ahava
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Things that Fall from the Sky

by Selja Ahava

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4414421,002 (3.75)11
One quirk of fate can send life spiralling in the most unexpected direction... Things that Fall from the Sky is a stunning narrative that explores the unexpected and inexplicable nature of reality. Three lives are changed forever by a series of random events: a young girl loses her mother when a block of ice falls from the sky; a woman wins the jackpot twice; and a man is struck by lightning four times. Selja Ahava weaves together these unique stories in a charming, one-of-a-kind tale about just how far people will go to force life into a logical pattern they can make sense of. Things that Fall from the Sky is a story of everyday life. But it is also a meditation on the passing of time, the endurance of love and the pain of loss. This prize-winning novel by one of Finland's best-loved writers is now touching readers' hearts all over the world, painting an unforgettable picture of the unforeseen twists and turns that can define a lifetime.… (more)

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» See also 11 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Ahava won the EU Prize for Literature for Things that Fall from the Sky, a story about three people whose lives are changed forever by random events – a block of ice falling out of the sky, winning the lottery, and lightning. The narrator is a little girl whose mother was killed by the falling block of ice, but although her observations and thoughts are childlike, they are not childish. The story of how people grieve and love is beautiful. ( )
  RoseCityReader | Jul 31, 2019 |
‘The world goes on. Nothing becomes clear, but time heals and people forget. The ghost’s batteries run out. Things happen. Overlapping, at the wrong time, at different times, in the wrong places. The angels aren’t in control.’

This (relatively) short novel from Finnish writer Selja Ahava tells the story of Saara, a young girl who lives with her parents, across the road from her Aunt Annu who now lives in a large house after wining the lottery. Then Saara’s world falls apart when her mother is killed in a freak accident in the garden when a block of ice drops from a passing plane and kills her. How she, her father and her aunt make sense of this and other strange events is played out in a novel that is moving, sympathetic yet realistic as well.

The opening section is narrated by Saara, and is full of childish observations and interests, as she tries to cling on to her memories of her mother. Much is made throughout the novel of stories and nice, neat endings: the family were fond of sitting down to watch TV episodes of Agatha Christie’s Poirot where everything is revealed at the end, and the book is littered with references to stories Saara’s mother would tell her at bedtime, or to fairy tales with their happy-ever-after endings. But real life is not like that, so how do we deal with that? Towards the end Saara observes: ‘If there’s no ending, there’s no story.’

Other sections of the novel include an exchange of letters between Aunt Annu, who has now, against all the odds, won the lottery for a second time, and a man called Hamish Mackay on the isle of Lewis who has survived being struck by lightening four times. Together with the freakish nature of Saara’s mother’s death, the novel is an extended meditation on chance and what we do with the cards with which life deals us: ‘You ask for an explanation but you’ll have to find one yourself, I’m afraid, because in my experience, what others say won’t help.’ As time moves on, the final section comes from the point of view of Krista, the new wife (presumably) of Saara’s father Pekka, undergoing a hard pregnancy. And that, pretty much, is where the novel ends – having warned us in the last few pages that there are no tidy resolutions to be had.

Not much happens, so if it’s a rip-roaring page-turner you are after then this is definitely not the book for you. It is a thoughtful, often moving account of just how we drag ourselves out of bed everyday and deal with all the crap out there. It is a book about memories and letting go and how life just carries on. Sometimes, especially in the first part of the book, Saara’s observations and reflections are a perhaps a little too mature for her age, occasionally clashing with some of her other, more childlike comments. And – I suppose deliberately – there is no background to the arrival of Krista into the family, nor is her relationship with Saara fully explored (Krista has a habit of calling Saara ‘that girl’ or ‘her’ rather than use her given name.) But overall this is a nicely written novel, which deliberately avoids the temptation of a happy ending. A definite recommended read, 3.5 stars. ( )
  Alan.M | Jun 11, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this through the Early Reviewers program and it's a little gem although I can't explain why very well. The first half of the book is told from the point of view of the daughter about her life, her recollections of her mother, and what her life has been like since her mother passed away in a very improbable way. Then there is a little section about Hamish MacKay and what he is famous for and how the daughter's aunt writes to him. The next little chapter is told from the point of view of the woman who comes to live with the daughter and her father, and finally the last chapter is told from the point of view of the daughter again. The imagery is beautiful. The book is full of grief, longing, hope and wistfulness. A lot of musing about time. It's a lovely book. ( )
  LisaMorr | May 20, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Some people are going to love this book. There are many brief scenes of exquisite and particular wonder, and the characters are deeply lovable. There is a scene involving felt-making, for instance, that is one of the best things I've read this millennium.

Where the novel fails for me is in its absolute and relentless dependence on far-fetched coincidence to drive the story.

Fiction is strangely immune to an "it could happen in real life" argument. Even though by definition a made-up thing, good fiction actually has a higher standard for consistency, and for cause-and-effect, than real life has. For coincidence to work in fiction, the coincidental event needs to happen once, preferably at the beginning of the story. Even then the author is left with a big challenge to make a fictional story work when it depends on coincidence.

Ahava here seems determined to be the exception to the good-fiction rule and to make coincidence-upon-coincidence work as a plot device. It didn't completely work for me. ( )
  poingu | May 7, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Cloying, simplistic. So many books take on these themes with so much more depth and infinitely better writing. How many more words until I get to the minimum for Early Reviewer credit? I mean, really, I have nothing to say about this lump of mediocrity. ( )
  susanbooks | May 6, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Selja Ahavaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Jeremiah, EmilyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jeremiah, FleurTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moster, StefanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
A BEGINNING is something that does not itself follow
from something else, but after which another event
or process naturally occurs.

A MIDDLE both follows a preceding event and itself
has further consequences.

AN END, by contrast, is that which naturally occurs,
whether necessarily or usually, after a preceding event,
but need not be followed by anything else.
Aristotle, The Poetics
Dedication
First words
'What's on your mind back there?' Dad asks, glancing in the rear-view mirror.
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Things that Fall from the Sky is a stunning narrative that explores the unexpected and in explicable nature of reality.

Three lives are changed forever by a series of random events: a young girl loses her mother when a block of ice falls from the sky; a woman wins the jackpot twice; and a man is struck by lightning four times. Selja Ahava weaves together these unique stories in a charming, one-of-a-kind tale about just how far people will go to force life into a logical pattern they can make sense of. Amazon
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