The Falling Sky by Pippa Goldschmidt

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A blackly comic campus satire combined with a heart-breaking family mystery, The Falling Sky brilliantly mixes fiction and astronomy into a fascinating, compelling, and moving narrative.

Jeanette is a young, solitary post-doctoral researcher who has dedicated her life to studying astronomy. Struggling to compete in a prestigious university department dominated by egos and incompetents, and caught in a cycle of brief and unsatisfying affairs, she travels to a mountaintop observatory in Chile to focus on her research. There Jeanette stumbles upon evidence that will challenge the fundamentals of the universe, drawing her into conflict with her colleagues and the scientific establishment, but also casting her back to the tragic loss that defined her childhood.

As the implications of her discovery gather momentum, and her relationships spiral out of control, Jeanette's own grip on reality is threatened, finally forcing her to confront the hidden past. This bittersweet debut novel blends black comedy, heartbreaking tragedy, and fascinatingly accessible science, in an intricate and beautiful examination of one woman's disintegration and journey to redemption.


The Falling Sky was...blah. I am finding it hard to have any feelings towards this book. It was just there. I read words, but it wasn't anything. This is the story of Jeanette and she is so...missing. It is like she is not even in the story even though it is about her. She just seems to be floating along not doing much, not being able to connect with other people, just in this strange world. She was so odd. 

I did like the "then" chapters at first. Jeanette's sister died when she was young and those chapters at first were really interesting. I loved the way she described her world, how her parents were kind of shut down, how she made up stories for where her sister was and all of that. It was really interesting to read, but the "now" chapters were...she is still detached from like everything. She has relationships with people, but I don't even know if she really has them or not. They are non existent in her world so much so that it was just like she is in a fog and I am trying to figure out the story without being able to see everything. I did not enjoy it, but it also just left me feeling ambivalent towards Jeanette. It's hard to even put into word my thoughts since I am just like "meh" when I think of the story. She was kind of like mist - there, but not a substantial thing.

The one thing I will say that I didn't like is all the astronomy in the story. I don't know enough about it to know why her findings would be a big deal and why they would contradict a well known theory. The book does say well this is what it is, this is what it should be, so that means this theory might be wrong, but I don't know enough to make that jump myself. I don't even know what redshifts are so...The book tells you what things mean in the general context, but not what they actually are so if you are like me and know basically nothing about astronomy you won't get it. The first half of the book was especially astronomy heavy and I just skimmed through a lot since I don't know what they were talking about really. Maybe if I could have connected with Jeanette I wouldn't have minded not knowing all of the astronomy, but since I didn't I wanted something to fill that void. 

So yeah. This book is just blah. It is odd as normally I have some feelings towards the story, but this one I just don't. It just is. It exists. It is nothing. Odd. 

Rating: ★ ★


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