I'm looking for a book I read some 15 years ago, at my middle-school library. I'm sure it was before 2005.

The story is set in a tower above the clouds, so they don't see the floor, and every so often, they all have to migrate one floor upper, but I don't remember why. I think the community has to build the tower higher and higher. It is forbidden to go to the lower floors, and a teenage girl is aching to go lower instead of upper, and violates the law.

It might be the same as this question, but I don't remember the tower to be a 1,000-floor buildings, and I thought it was a more recent book (but I might be wrong).

I think in the end,

she discovers there is no bottom of the tower (it floats or something like that).

But I'm not 100% sure, as I don't remember much of the book, just the atmosphere.


Ok, so months after asking, I found out the answer, because a friend I had told the synopsis to found out what the book was, and gave it to me.

It is a French book, which was published in 1991, and the title is La citadelle du vertige, by Alain Grousset. It won an award too.

So I guess it wouldn't have had a chance to be found here (English speaking community), so I'm glad my friend found out.

Front cover of La Citadelle du Vertige

Symon est tailleur de pierres. Il vit au sommet de la cathédrale mais rêve de voir le monde "d'en bas", d'aller toucher le sol. Le jour où son père meurt dans d'étranges circonstances, il décide d'emprunter l'escalier interdit...

English translation:

Symon is a stonemason. He lives at the top of the cathedral but dreams of seeing the world "below", of touching the ground. The day his father dies in strange circumstances, he decides to take the forbidden staircase ...

The differences with my memories are:

  • The main character is actually a boy, not a girl
  • The tower they are building is a cathedral, built in order for the humans to join God
  • Did all the details match your memory? And did you read it in French?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Nov 20 '20 at 18:04
  • 1
    @FuzzyBoots I read it in French, yes, and for now, the only different thing is that the main character is a boy, not a girl. The tower they are building is a cathedral.
    – OroshiX
    Nov 23 '20 at 10:33
  • Glad you found your book! Can you provide explanation of the matching details (and maybe the parts that don't match) in your answer? It provides hooks for others who might be searching. :) We do find foreign language books on occasion, a combination of some of us being bilingual and clever use of Google Translate, but yeah, it's largely an English site.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Nov 23 '20 at 11:48
  • I added the differences with my memories in this answer (the rest of the details matched)
    – OroshiX
    Nov 23 '20 at 14:58
  • This is the inverse of Schuiten/Peeter's "The Tower" where the protagonist is an stoneworker/upkeeper left behind and he decides to go to the top to find the "pioneers" who are building the tower up (to reach God? maybe!) Nov 23 '20 at 17:13

This sounds like Updraft by Fran Wilde.

In a city of living bone rising high above the clouds, where danger hides in the wind and the ground is lost to legend, a young woman must expose a dangerous secret to save everyone she loves.

Welcome to a world of wind and bone, songs and silence, betrayal and courage.

This was 2015, however. It is the first book of a trilogy (Bone Universe). Cloudbound and Horizon are the sequels.

Also, flying (gliding) and flying 'monsters' are key features of the book - not mentioned in your question.

The inhabitants of this tower do need to move up one floor and abandon the lower ones as the towers are slowly growing.

  • This was what I thought of too, note my comment on the question, but it seems wildly too recent to be what the OP was thinking off unless they were a decade off.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jan 29 '20 at 12:39
  • Agreed. Should I move the "answer" to a comment? The additional information provided in the question edit further moves away from this as a possibility.
    – Edgewood
    Jan 29 '20 at 16:52
  • No its fine as is and as far as I can tell there has been no edit to the question.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jan 29 '20 at 16:55
  • 1
    Thanks, but, I'm sure it was at the latest in 2005, but more probably in 2003. I will probably read this one, though, seems like a nice book.
    – OroshiX
    Jan 31 '20 at 13:32

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