Author: Jandy Nelson
Published: March 9, 2010
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“The sky is everywhere, it begins at your feet.”
― Jandy Nelson, The Sky Is Everywhere
Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life - and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey's boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie's own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they're the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can't collide without the whole wide world exploding. (Goodreads)
Wow. Just wow. My heart is still aching. This book was so beautifully written, in such a poetic style. Maybe the poet in me couldn't help but love it. Reading The Sky Is Everywhere was either like drinking a cup of sunshine or swallowing shards of glass, depending on the scene, because it was both lovely and painful. What can you expect about a book focused around grieving and coming to terms with a loved one's death? I simply could not stop reading, as if I had no power over my eyes, and I finished this in a few hours last night. I can't believe how crushed I was when I finished, wishing I could start all over again fresh.
The Sky Is Everywhere intermixed literature and poetry so well, the author made it look easy. As a Bronte fan, I loved how Lennie was obsessed with Wuthering Heights and read it again and again. All the classic literature, the music, and the scattered poetry added something so powerful to the story. I love when characters have a passion, whether it be writing or music or anything, because it makes them more 3-dimensional. And so many characters in The Sky Is Everywhere had passions, from music to writing to gardening to arboriculture to painting. I loved the addition of Lennie's poems between each chapter, written on to-go cups, napkins, or anything she could find. These poems were her way of exploring her sister's death. Then there was Gram, with her beautiful paintings all in green. And Uncle Big with his pyramids and exploding cakes. Toby with his horses and animals and Joe with his instruments. It was lovely how different people had different comforts.
The Walker family was wonderfully strange. Their quirks, beliefs, and secret rituals made them endlessly entertaining. I loved how the garden kept coming up, with its flowers and their supposedly secret influences. And it was touching to see how much her family loved Lennie, trying to protect her from her mother's absence. Even Bailey, absent from the book obviously, had secrets to reveal and a significant place in Lennie's memories. She was always present in someone's thoughts. I loved all the characters, from Gram to Uncle Big to Sarah, the goth-grunge-punk-hippie-rocker-emo-core-metal-freak-fashionista-brain-geek-boycrazy-hiphop-rastagirl, who was an awesome friend to Lennie. I love seeing close, meaningful friendships in books because usually the romance is only focused on. Then there was Toby and Joe who were complex, Toby such a shattered person and Joe such a wonderful but vulnerable guy.
I will be honest and say that I didn't always love Lennie. I sympathized with her pain and her grieving, but I didn't necessarily like how she mourned her sister. Some people might take drugs or participate in reckless behavior, but Lennie mourned by exploring her sexuality with two different guys. Hard-ons came up a lot in this book. And I don't mean came up as in conversation because they literally came up. Joe and Toby had to hide their hard-ons frequently. It was amusing. But while I hated how Lennie couldn't decide between the two gorgeous guys, I tried to understand how she was stuck between two choices. One guy was sharing her grief and was a memory of the past and Bailey, while the other was a chance for true love and happiness and a way to move on from Bailey. It was painful at times to read this book, but while I didn't agree with some of Lennie's decisions, I loved how the book came together and the story was devastatingly beautiful. Plus, the romance was too sweet.
So, I am finally finished gushing about this book. I requested it from the library, but I can see myself eventually buying the book because I loved it that much! A new favorite! It had so many great quotes. Here's one:
All her knowledge is gone now. Everything she ever learned, or heard, or saw. Her particular way of looking at Hamlet or daisies or thinking about love, all her private intricate thoughts, her inconsequential secret musings – they’re gone too. I heard this expression once: Each time someone dies, a library burns. I’m watching it burn right to the ground.
To make a long story short, read The Sky Is Everywhere.