Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “And Then the Sky Exploded” as Want to Read:
And Then the Sky Exploded
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

And Then the Sky Exploded

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  253 ratings  ·  80 reviews
2018 Red Maple Award — Shortlisted • High Plains Book Award — Shortlisted, Young Adult category
When Christian learns his great-grandfather helped build the A-bombs dropped on Japan, he wants to make amends … somehow.

While attending the funeral of his great-grandfather, ninth-grader Christian Larkin learns that the man he loved and respected was a member of the Manhattan Pr
ebook, 208 pages
Published October 22nd 2016 by Dundurn
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about And Then the Sky Exploded, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Tweety Bird does that Really happen?

does that Really happen?

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  253 ratings  ·  80 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of And Then the Sky Exploded
Jul 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-english, 2016
At that exact instant a blinding flash - the light of a thousand thousand suns - tore apart the sky above the city.
And Yuko's world would never be the same.

I was little bit worried, because the main theme is the event in Hiroshima in WWII and this genre is usually not easy to read if you are not good familiarized with the topic. But this is not that kind of book. Author's style of writing is easy and the story is dynamic, entertaining and author found a place for light education. And Then t
Aug 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book seems to have a little bit of an identity crisis. While much of the narration style is very consistent with that of a middle grade novel, the addition of the curse words make it inappropriate to fairly call it a middle grade novel. That being said, it reads a bit too young to be a young adult novel as well. It seems to fall somewhere in between the two. Additionally, while rare, the narrator actually has the voice down
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
NetGalley Copy in exchange of an honest review.

Chris is 14 when his great grandfather passes away. But with his death, the mystery of his life unravels, and soon Chris discovers that that man, whom he looked up to, worked on the Manhattan Project. The very project that led to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I really loved this book. I feel like the plot in itself is very attractive, because it is very different from what we usually read these days, even in the whole WWII novels genre.

When Christian discovers that his great-grandfather helped to build the A-bombs that were dropped on Japan, he wants to somehow make emends. On a school trip to Japan, Christian meets 81 year old Yuko, who was 11 when the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, which injured her horribly. Christian is determined to do something but what can one teenager possibly do? His friends tell him it's a stupid idea, but maybe they are wrong?

I enjoyed this book and thought it was well written and a topic that
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The premise of this novel is what caught my eye, about a teen who discovers that his beloved great-grandfather had been involved in making the bomb that that was used on Hiroshima. He decides that he must go to Hiroshima and somehow make amends. That's a tall order for a novel plot and a tall order for a 14 year old.

Poulsen nails the voice of Christian, that 14 year old boy. He also nails the voice of Yuko, the young girl whose live was devastated at Hiroshima. Poulsen alternates between the two
3.5. For the most part, this was a pleasant surprise. It didn't go too deeply into the debate of whether the atomic bomb was necessary, but what it did cover, it handled maturely. I liked Christian as a narrator (especially since Poulsen recognizes that 14-year-olds do actually swear), but the way the main conflict was wrapped up felt a little half-assed, and there were moments that were unrealistic:

1) The whole ending scene. Read it and you'll know the one I'm talking about.
2) International sc
Jul 25, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to NetGalley

Although the background to this story was compelling, I never felt truly connected with the characters - I really wanted to know more about the backstories to the grandfather, for example, or more about the families; but it was almost like a teen coming of age book which hung loosely around Hiroshima, rather than this being a more important part of the story
I would like to thank Netgalley and Dundurn for giving me this book to read. This book was a quick easy read. Only took me 3.5 hours to read.
I felt like the main character was having more of an identity crisis rather than really trying to "right" his Great Grand-Father's "Wrong." While there was some mild language, this book was age appropriate.
Nicole Overmoyer
I received a copy of And Then the Sky Exploded from Dundurn via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and original review. All thoughts are my own.

This book... this book is something unique and good and important.

I don't have much in common with Christian Larkin, it's true. I'm not a teenage boy born in Canada and moved to America, lucky enough to go on high school trips to Japan. And despite this utter lack of similar, shared experiences, I feel some connection to Christian.

I suppose it's about g
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
And then the sky exploded by David.A Poulsen
This book is about what happened in Japan on August 6, 1945 in the city of Hiroshima when a bomb dropped during world war 2.Ninth graded boy named Christian finds out that his great-grandfather was one of the scientist involved in making the atomic bomb that killed thousands of people. Wanting to do something to make-up for what his great-grandfather he meets 81 year old Yuko who was 11 years old when the first bomb exploded during his school trip to J
Sylvia McNicoll
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hiroshima--who understands what happened there--why humanity would unleash an atomic weapon against itself?

And Then the Sky Exploded gives this act of war some context and a personal face to the suffering.
But it also gives a sense of redemption and hope the way a young adult novel should.

Plus there is dating, football and Japanese tourist information that lightens what could be a tale of misery.

A wonderful warm story that ultimately underscores a message for peace in the world.
Sep 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. A quick, thought provoking read.
TT Turner
Aug 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley, in exchange for a fair and honest review*

David A. Poulsen penned And Then the Sky Exploded penned with consideration and subtlety, and provided a modern outlook on the atrocity faced in Japan on August 6th 1945. We join Yuko, an 82 year-old (by my calculations) "Hibokusha" (a surviving victim of the atomic bombing at Hiroshima and Nagasaki), and Christian Larkin, a 14 year-old boy suffering with the knowledge that his beloved great-grandad play
Anna W.
And Then The Sky Exploded Book Review

Our genealogy makes us who we are, why we have our beliefs and practices and it also tells us why we are here today. According to, only 50% of American families have ever researched their family roots. In David Poulsen’s historical fiction book, And Then The Sky Exploded, Christian Larken is part of that 50% who does not know anything about his family history until a series of troublesome events lead Christian to discover the grim secrets of his
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I picked up And Then The Sky Exploded by David Poulsen from NetGalley, I must have missed this is a book designed for middle school aged readers, so I am going to review this on a curve. I am going to think back to younger me and ask- would I have enjoyed this book?

The story begins Chris at his great-grandfather's funeral. As the family is traveling to the gravesite, Chris sees protesters off to the side calling his "GG" a killer and a murderer. Chris researches why the protesters would do
I liked the concept of this book and enjoyed the meeting of the child with the elderly lady.

The scene with the skinheads didn’t fit and the football game scene didn’t move the story forward.

I enjoyed learning about the peace center.
Michelle Kidwell

And Then the Sky Exploded

by David A. Poulsen


Children's Fiction, Teens & YA

Pub Date 15 Oct 2016

I was given a copy of And Then the Sky Exploded through the publisher and their partnership with Netgalley in exchange for my honest review which is as follows:

And then The Sky Exploded is the story of a generation old family secret coming to light. It's a story that spans time and place.


Yuko's eleventh birthday and her entire world will never be the same.

On October 06,2015 Christi
Sep 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Imagine loving and admiring your great grandfather more than anyone else in your life, only to find out after this great man's death that he was integrally involved in the Manhattan Project-the effort to create the world's first nuclear weapon. This is exactly the situation Christian Larkin finds himself in. With this new knowledge, Christian feels overwhelming guilt and confusion. How can the man who played street hockey with him have also been partially responsible for one of the deadliest mom ...more
Helen Marquis
An interesting take on the event that precipitated the end of WWII, Poulsen's novel centers around teenager Christian, who attends his beloved great-grandfather's funeral, and wonders why there are protesters outside it, seemingly celebrating his passing. He is stunned to learn that he was part of the team of eminent scientists who designed the atomic bomb, named the Manhattan Project.
His tale is interwoven with that of Yuko, who was an eleven-year-old girl when the bomb exploded over Hiroshima,
Nov 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
14-year-old Chris is at his great-grandfather's funeral when a small group of protesters show up, calling his GG a mass murderer... naturally Chris is a bit wtf and his parents are tight-lipped, but eventually he finds out that his GG was one in the team of scientists who worked on the atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan in 1945. Chris gets all into researching Japan, and then gets to visist there when he suggests it for his school's travel club and it wins the vote.

We also get to read the s
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not usually a big reader of YA fiction but the subject of this book really intrigued me. A young teen, Christian, is the great grandson of one of the scientists who helped create the atomic bomb that was dropped over Hiroshima at the end of WWII. Christian recently learned of his grandfather's participation in the Manhattan project and since that time he has struggled with feelings of guilt for the victims in Japan. Yuko was 11 years old when the bomb fell and killed thousands of people, in ...more
Aug 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

It was at the funeral that Christian first realized there was something important he didn't know about his grandfather. His quest led him to a point of change: to admit the past, or to discard it.

Written for teenagers but not dumbed down, Poulson uses Christian's thoughts to work through concepts few adults will admit to, including the sense that an immense tragedy is too difficult to comprehend. The parallel story, of Christian's journey and Yuko's own personal experience of Hiroshima,
The cover alone was one of the main reasons that I asked to read this book before its release through NetGalley, and boy am I pleased I had the opportunity to! What a neatly written story about a young boy that found out that his great-grandfather was part of the creation of the bomb that we (the United States) attacked Japan (Hiroshima) with. Having that knowledge led this boy down a path of trying to find a way to make up for what we did, even if it was a small thing.

I loved the characters of
Jan 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like the book more than I did but I warm up to it by the end. It follows the story of a young teen who finds out his grandfather helped build the atomic bomb. The protagonist takes a school trip to Japan and during the trip tries to make amends for his grandfather's involvement with the Hiroshima bombing.

Overall, I wanted more background and motivation for the characters. I wanted more about the protagonist's family and grandpa but less of of the interactions with the school friends
Margaret Bryant
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A compelling look at the horror of war through the eyes of those who lived it and those who haven’t
Gabriela Eto
In “And Then The Sky Exploded”, a young teenager, Christian Larkin, soon finds out that after his great-grandpa Will dies, he was apart of a project that helped hill thousands of people. Along with a bunch of other scientists from all over the world, they all helped build a bomb to drop on Japan. Christian then feels like it’s up to him to make up for what his grandpa did and does everything in his power to make that happen.

Christian lived a usual life as you’d expect, but as Christian leaves h
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hi, I just have finished reading one of the best books in the world, ''And Then The Sky Exploded'' written by David A.poulsen. This book was mindblowing. I would give this author 5/5. This book is about a ninth grader named Christian. During his journey, his great-grandfather died. During his great grandfather's funeral, many protesters showed up and yelled out mean stuff like “murder” killer of a thousand. After the funeral Christian asked his parent why protesters were yelling those stuff abou ...more
Jason Farrell
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"And Then the Sky Exploded" by David A. Poulsen was one of the best books I have ever read. It touched on many different topics such as war, love, friendship, family, and rivalries. (SOME SPOILERS AHEAD NOT MAJOR PARTS OF THE STORY BUT STILL SPOILERS) The story followed a high school boy named Chris and the relationship with his great grandfather and the Manhattan Project. His great grandfather (GG Will) was one of the scientists who crafted the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima in World War ...more
Isabelle Li
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I read the synopsis of And Then the Sky Exploded by David A. Poulsen, I had high hopes for this to be an intriguing and exciting read. This book fell short of the criteria. In my opinion, one of the main reasons why is because the author tried to make the story as realistic as possible. Yes, he succeeded, but doing so cost most of this book’s action. In addition to this, in my opinion, the amount of detail and words Poulsen included in the text was way too excessive and unnecessary. The nar ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Laura Monster Crusher
  • The Winnowing
  • Run
  • Hawk
  • Bent not Broken: Madeline and Justin
  • Saint Anything
  • Secret Path
  • Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All
  • Strands of Bronze and Gold
  • With Malice
  • The Way Back Home
  • Front Lines (Front Lines, #1)
  • I Know You Know
  • Our Darkest Night
  • Saving Red
  • Short for Chameleon
  • The Last Namsara (Iskari, #1)
  • Pet
See similar books…
David A. Poulsen has been a rodeo competitor and rodeo clown, rock singer, high school football coach, stage and film actor, documentary television writer and host, and college English instructor. Since retiring from rodeo competition - he admits to being a not-very-good bareback rider and later an accident-prone rodeo clown, David Poulsen has taken up residence in announcer's stands across North ...more

Related Articles

If you're a fan of the mystery and thriller genre and young adult books, recent months have brought a bevy of great reads to your shelves! We...
116 likes · 18 comments
“At that exact instant a blinding flash - the light of a thousand thousand suns - tore apart the sky above the city.
And Yuko's world would never be the same.”
“I turned on the jets. I'm pretty fast when I'm either scared or I think I might score the first touchdown of my football career. When you put the two together I'm regular Usain Bolt.” 1 likes
More quotes…