Spoilers for Firefly Lane, both book and Netflix series. You probably knew that Firefly Lane, the Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke-helmed series climbing up the Netflix top ten, is based on a book by Kristin Hannah. But you may not have known that the book version of Firefly Lane has a sequel: Fly Away, which follows Kate, Tully, Johnny, and Marah...even though one of them (spoiler! alert!) has passed away. While a potential season two of the Netflix series is unlikely to follow the sequel too closely, given how far it deviated from the ending of book one—more on that in a second—we can learn a lot about the future of Firefly Lane the series based on Hannah's Fly Away.
Much of the Netflix series of Firefly Lane takes cues from the book version—with a few key differences. For example, Johnny and Kate are never on the cusp of getting divorced. We know exactly why Tully and Kate are feuding, and they ultimately reconcile. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Firefly Lane showrunner Maggie Friedman said: "I hope that people who are big fans of the book can watch the show and be like, 'Oh, my God, there's that moment I remember!' And also be like, 'Oh, I'm surprised by this, but it's cool because it's in the spirit of the book, but it's a different thing.'"
What is Fly Away about?
The biggest distinction between Firefly Lane book and series: In the book, Kate dies. Yes, you read that right. She and Tully fall out after Tully convinces Kate and Marah to appear on a Girlfriend Hour segment about mothers and daughters—which turns out to be a segment about how overbearing mothers damage their daughters. (This might be what happens in the series, too, even though Tully leaves Girlfriend Hour at the end of season one.) But then Kate is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and Tully drops everything to reconcile with her before her death. Ultimately, Kate passes away, having asked Tully to please take care of Johnny and her family after she's gone (in the book, Johnny and Kate have two more children).
The book's synopsis: "[Tully] wants to fulfill her promise to Kate—to be there for Kate’s children, but it’s a promise she has no idea how to carry out. What does brash, lonely, ambitious Tully know about being part of a family?"
What happens to Tully and Marah in Fly Away?
Four years after Kate's death, we check in with the remaining characters: Tully, Johnny, Marah, and Cloud. In particular, the book follows the three women—Tully, Marah, and Cloud—and traces their journey past and present. We learn far more about Cloud, in particular, and we also learn more about Tully's journey before and after Kate's death, and see Marah try to work through her grief over her mother.
Plot-wise, the book starts with Tully getting into a life-threatening accident. She spends most of the book hovering between life and death, and that's what brings together the other two characters: Cloud, Tully's mom, and Marah, Tully's goddaughter.
"I just had to know why Dorothy [a.k.a. Cloud] was the kind of person she was and how Tully and Marah would survive without Kate," Kristin Hannah said in an interview with Book Reporter. "Because I lost my own mother when I was much too young, I know intimately that one person can sometimes hold an entire family together, and the loss of that person is devastating. It can take you years to get back on your feet. That's really the theme of FLY AWAY—how to let go of someone you love and go on."
As for a third novel? Hannah said: "Writing a "sequel" was the hardest thing I've done, and I do not relish the idea of trying it again. That being said, I do wonder what happens to Marah..."