Fire from the Sky

By Moa Backe Åstot
Translated from the Swedish by Eva Apelqvist
Levine Querido, 2023

205 pages

Fire from the Sky cover
Fire from the Sky by Moa Backe Åstot. Translated by Eva Apelqvist


Age 14 and older

Teenage Ánte loves his life in a small northern Swedish town. His Sámi family herds reindeer, although they’re no longer nomadic. Indeed, he’s living a settled, 21st-century life, going to high school, texting with friends, engaging (or not) on social media. Ánte has no desire to go anywhere but wonders if he’ll be able to stay: He doesn’t know anyone else who is gay. Are there gay reindeer herders? Ánte isn’t out; he’s also in love with his best friend, Erik. Struggling with a looming sense of loss at someday having to leave, Ánte slowly finds hope. It begins with support close to home when his teenage cousin Ida makes clear she understands him. His grandmother is less direct but no less full of acceptance and love. Ánte also sees signs that his attraction to Erik may not be one sided, although the fact that Erik has a girlfriend confounds him. This standout translated novel includes a subplot about the disturbing work of a Swedish researcher in the early 20th century who sought to prove the inferiority of the Sámi because of “racial differences” between them and Swedes, an echo of racist eugenics research in the United States and oppression against North American Indigenous peoples. From tender descriptions of imagined first love to energetic conversations among Ánte and his friends, this finely told story shines. ©2023 Cooperative Children’s Book Center