The Sky So Heavy,

Claire Zorn

The Sky So Heavy,
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The Sky So Heavy,

Claire Zorn

For Fin, it’s just like any other day - racing for the school bus, bluffing his way through class and trying to remain cool in front of the most sophisticated girl in his universe. Only it’s not like any other day because, on the other side of the world, nuclear missiles are being detonated.

When Fin wakes up the next morning, it’s dark, bitterly cold and snow is falling. There’s no internet, no phone, no TV, no power and no parents. Nothing Fin’s learnt in school could have prepared him for this.

With his parents missing and dwindling food and water supplies, Fin and his younger brother, Max, must find a way to survive in a nuclear winter…all on their own. When things are at their most desperate, where can you go for help?


Certain books we read as adolescents stay with us. For Claire Zorn, Louise Lawrence’s Children of the Dust planted the seed in her mind that would eventually become her debut novel about a nuclear winter. For this reader, another haunting post-apocalyptic story, Robert C. O'Brien’s Z is for Zachariah, came to mind. Other comparisons will be made but The Sky So Heavy can hold its own; Zorn’s version of events seems even closer to home, literally and figuratively.

Set in the Blue Mountains of Sydney, the story allows us to get to know Fin, his family and his high school crush, Lucy, before throwing the whole lot into chaos when a nuclear threat becomes reality. Fin and his younger brother Max are abandoned, surrounded by radioactive snow. Food supplies are diminishing and hunger is turning neighbours into enemies. The action ramps up further when Fin and Max are reunited with Lucy and join forces with an unlikely companion for a dangerous mission to the city.

Fin is a great character – bright and responsible but not too perfect – and Zorn’s tone is spot-on. The relationship between the brothers is a stand-out. Highly recommended for teens.

Emily Gale is a Children’s & YA Specialist at Readings Carlton, and a Children’s & YA writer the rest of the time.

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