The Sky Is Everywhere
This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie's struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.
Nelson's writing has its own cadence, a rhythm. This book reads like poetry to me, more so than do most poems I've read. Her writing both held me captive and frustrated me. Part of her style includes the use of poetic license with regards to sentence structure that make seriously not poetic me crazy. However, the writing fit Lennie's character so completely perfectly that I do not think this book could have been powerful any other way.
Speaking of Lennie, I am really torn on her. On the one hand, I totally identify with characters who feel boring and lovable, and spend their lives comparing themselves unfavorably to others. If there's something that captured the feelings of my teenager years, that's definitely it. Plus, my heart ached for Lennie's grief over her sister Bailey's death. I really felt her pain and could sense how much was missing. This came through especially powerfully in her little notes that she left everywhere, which, I think, were a good portion of why I liked her so much.
On the other hand, though, Lennie does some unforgivable things, and, much as I want to forgive her because grief can do a number on a person, I don't think I can. Yes, I could see how she made the decisions she did, but I feel like lots of people can get through their grief without doing that stuff. She cheats and she lies, and I really don't feel like she deserves her happy ending, even though I sort of wanted it to come. Basically, I'm conflicted. I really just wish the plot hadn't had to revolve so much around infidelity.
What I loved most about this book was seeing Lennie come alive, even though she did so many idiotic, awful things. Only through her sister's death has she been able to flourish, too content with following along in her sister's shadow until forced into independence. Bailey's death wrought a strange change in Lennie, taking her from a girl with little interest in boys to a hormonal, horny mess of a girl. I really loved this, because it is so rare to read novels about girls with healthy sexual appetites. Usually, they're so virginal and pure, so that made such a refreshing change.
The other characters really stole the show, though: Gram, Big, Joe, Gram's garden. Gram and her garden reminded me a bit of Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, with the sort of magical realism to her garden. Gram is completely quirky and sassy and loving, and just the best guardian ever; Lennie and Bailey's mom may have run off, but she still has a very present family in Gram and Big.
Oh, Joe. He's so incredibly, marvelously, wonderfully himself. Unlike the usual YA guys, he does not aim for mysteriousness or brooding. He's endlessly optimistic and smiling, always happy to help in any sort of crazy scheme. Joe treats everyone with kindness and is incredibly open about his feelings. Plus, he's a complete and total band geek. Quel swoony, right?
For now, this book wasn't perfect for me, but I will be holding on to my copy and revisiting Lennie's story some time in the future, because this might be one of those books I need a second reading to truly appreciate.
While this is primarily a book about grief, relationships, both familial and romantic, play a very important role. Lennie’s eccentric grandmother who believes that Lennie’s life force is tied to a plant; her Uncle Big who is known around town as a womanizer; her mother, who had the “restless gene” and left, resulting in an unconventional upbringing; Toby, Bailey’s fiance, who understands her grief more than anyone; Joe, the new boy in town, who shows Lennie that it’s possible to find love after loss – all of these relationships help Lennie to find herself and come to terms with the loss of her sister.
Jandy Nelson’s writing is incredibly beautiful and evocative. Poems and notes that Lennie has written on whatever she can find at the time of inspiration (coffee cups, trees, candy wrappers) are interspersed within the narrative. These are filled with conversations between her sister and herself, memories of the two of them, dreams, and questions, which give us an honest glimpse into the depth of her grief and make her feelings seem even more real.
I’m so glad that I had the experience of reading The Sky Is Everywhere, and I know that it will stay with me for a very long time.
-the poems were a nice touch
- I loved how Lennie really molded and changed