Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Title: The Sky is Everywhere
Author: Jandy Nelson
Publisher: Dial
Hardcover, 277 pages
Date Published: March 9, 2010

Description (Taken from Goodreads)
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.

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. 

When Lennie’s sister Bailey dies, she doesn’t know how to go on. How do you live when someone so important to you is gone? Nelson took the difficult subject of grief and all the emotion that accompanies it and turned it into a story that will leave you reeling. Grief can be a difficult subject for any author to tackle, but Nelson takes the feeling of isolation, of sheer loneliness and despair and makes it palpable.
Telepathically, I tell her I’m sorry. I tell her I just can’t confide in her right now, tell her the three feet between us feels like three light-years to me and I don’t know how to bridge it.
 Telepathically, she tells me back that I’m breaking her broken heart.
The honesty of each and every character explodes off the page and the heartbreak will tear you in two.

The grief instantly pulled me in. That’s the thing that held me to Lennie, to Gram, to Big, and to Toby. It was the grief that hung over each of them like a cloud. Nelson takes this tortuous grief and transforms it into a despairing, realistic, and breathtaking story that will charm your soul and leave a mark on your heart.
To my astonishment, time didn’t stop with her heart…For days and days, the rain beat its fists on the roof of our house – evidence of the terrible mistake God had made.
I was instantly attached to each of the characters and mourned Bailey as if she were my own sister/granddaughter/niece/girlfriend. Even without ever truly experiencing the Bailey that Lennie remembers, I felt her in each and every sentence, in each and every moment. The love story that just happens to unfold among the grief will have you clinging to life, to the life that Lennie wants, but feels she doesn’t deserve.
I don’t believe time heals. I don’t want it to. If I heal, doesn’t that mean I’ve accepted the world without her?
Toby, Bailey’s boyfriend, broke my heart again and again. I wanted to reach through the pages and hold him and I understood the connection that Lennie develops with him. It’s almost natural. Their love for the same girl pushes them together. On the flip side, Joe, the soulful, charming, and always smiling new boy, will make you yearn for the happiness and joy he radiates. Without ever knowing Bailey, he anchors Lennie to the world she lives in now. He is the sun on a cloudy day and his smile will warm you from the inside out.

Somehow, Nelson takes a story of infinite, unending grief, and transforms it into a story of living, loving, and remembering. I read it into the wee hours of the morning and forced myself to put it down to sleep. It is absolutely addicting and unforgettable. The hilarity surprised me, yet seemed right. The notes that don the beginning of many chapters are a quirk that feels just so Lennie. My favorite being one that begins:
Grief is a house 
where the chairs 
have forgotten how to hold us 
the mirrors how to reflect us 
the walls how to contain us...
There are no negative thoughts that come to mind with this story and I couldn’t imagine it any other way. The Sky is Everywhere is imbued with love and loss and will make you roll with laughter, cry out with despair, and smile so much it hurts.

Opening line: Gram is worried about me.

Favorite line(s): My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn’t go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath.

This book is perfection and I do not say that lightly.
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.


BrittLit said...

Great review. I agree with you about the grief, it totally sucks you in until you're mourning Bailey right along with the rest of the family.

D Swizzle said...


Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) said...

This may honestly be the best book I've read this year. Everything about it just completely blew me away. I'm happy to see that you both agree :D

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