Tara Krishnan’s junior year of high school isn’t off to a great start: her best friend is spending the year studying abroad, meaning that Tara will be left alone to navigate the clique-filled halls of Brierly, where she’s never quite felt she fit in with her wealthy, mostly white classmates. To make things more interesting, NASA has just intercepted a message from outer space confirming that there’s life on other planets. In fact, the world soon realizes that Terra Nova, as it’s called, may be almost exactly like Earth – even down to the people that inhabit it.
Don’t let the presence of an alien planet fool you – Mirror in the Sky is more teen drama than sci-fi extravaganza, and there’s nothing wrong with that! Author Aditi Khorana’s decision to set her chronicle of high school social travails against the backdrop of a world-changing news story is an artful stroke that allows Tara (and the reader) to weigh the significance of events in our day-to-day lives against what might be happening up in the cosmos. The discovery of Terra Nova has real-life effects on Tara’s life, as her mother becomes obsessed with the idea that there could be an alternate timeline on Terra Nova in which her own parents didn’t die, creating no end of strife for Tara and her father.
In the other arc of the novel, Tara begins to find that she’s not as lost without her best friend Meg as she thought. Almost without understanding how it’s happening, she finds herself becoming one of the “It” kids of Brierly Academy, close with pretty/popular/smart/nice/somehow-still-threatening Halle and her friends, including Nick, who Tara has had a crush on…forever. Tara’s newfound social status is as disorienting, if not more, than the discovery of life on Terra Nova, and she soon finds herself caught up in a world of friendship, lies, and romance that she never realized teemed beneath the surface of Brierly.
Mirror in the Sky was such a fun book to read! I think, for me, the strongest part of the book was the compelling way in which Khorana painted her characters. Halle and her friends aren’t “mean girl” tropes – they’re young, smart, attractive women learning how to control the particular kind of power they have in the world. They make mistakes and, yes, can be cruel to each other, but their friendship remains steadfast despite it all. Watching Tara delve into that world (and watching the drama unfold as she and Nick struggle to resist their attraction to each other) was fascinating. Terra Nova’s discovery and her mother’s obsession add some risk and weight to the story that had me eager to find out what happened next. Definitely put this one on your summer to-read list!
This book was provided by the publisher for review.