Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

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 olde
r 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.
With The Sky is Everywhere, debut author Jandy Nelson has penned an honest, heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting, and, at times, surprisingly humorous, novel about the complex nature of grief.

Lennie, having lost her sister, has to navigate, often stumbling and falling flat on her face, through this new reality; this world without her be-loved sister. This paradigm shift has an effect on all her relationships: with Toby, her sister's boyfriend, Sarah, Lennie's best friend, Gram, and her Uncle. She has to redefine who she is without Baily and in the context of each of these relationships. Then there's the new guy, Joe. The guy who never knew Bailey. The guy, whose infectious smile can, for brief periods of time, make her forget her all encompassing grief.
Halfway through this book, I thought "there is NO way someone couldn't like this book."

No. Way.

So, I hopped on Goodreads to see the kind of ratings the book was getting. I was delighted to see it was mostly four and five stars. Then I saw a two star. I had to see what this person didn't like about this book. This book that so accurately and honestly portrays the sadness, anger, frustration, guilt, and confusion that accompanies losing a loved one.

Much to my chagrin this particular review compared it to.....Twi-fucking-light. Why, oh why does everyone seem to compare every YA book where a girl has a choice between two guys to Twilight?! I was actually pretty taken a back. Aside from the two possible love interests, this book has nothing in common with the popular vamp novel. I really felt that particular reivewer was grasping at straws on that one! And as much as I was entertained by Twilight it is a far cry from being as well written and deeply emotional as The Sky is Everywhere.
The reviewer also mentions how selfish Lennie is and yes while I agree, to an extent, I also think Lennie deserves a break. Grief sucks. It makes you do irrational things. Things like kissing your dead sister's boyfriend to drown both your sorrows even when you know it's wrong. Things like shutting out those closest to you when you really need them most. Grief isn't rational. It can make you a little selfish, a little bitter, a little angry.

In the story, Lennie, her Grandmother, and her Uncle are all grieving the loss of Bailey. It isn't until near the end of the novel that Lennie realizes she's been pushing her family away, not considering the fact that their attempts engage with her were not only to comfort her but that they too were seeking comfort for their own loss. She realizes how thoughtless she's been. She has that "a ha!" moment where she realizes just how hard it is for everyone else. So yea, it took her awhile to come up for air and realize, "damn, everyone else has been drowning here too". But she does, and I think she deserves credit for that.

Something else I loved about the book were the poems Lennie wrote. The poems were at the beginning of every chapter and give readers additional glimpses into Lennie and Bailey's relationship and is another avenue for Lennie to express her grief. They really add to the story.

I really wish I could do a better job of expressing how wonderful this novel is. As long as you don't mind a more serious read, I have no doubt you'll enjoy The Sky is Everywhere!


Disclosure: I checked this book out from the library. I did not receive any compensation for this review.


  1. Sounds good... but do you notice how often stories in YA are dark? I just don't think this will be for me - hate love triangle... but glad you enjoyed it :D

    Hopefully, this author's next release will be a bit more cheerful and to my taste :P

  2. Good point Nath. I think the adolesent years are pretty dark anyway...I certainly recall thinking EVERYTHING was life or death, even if it wasn't I can't imagine actually having to deal w/ the death of a sister at that age.

    It really wasn't much of a love triangle. I don't ever think Toby was a real option, at least in my mind. It was Toby and Lennie's bizarre way of dealing with Bailey's death.

    It was definitely not a light read. But I thought it was a really powerful story!

  3. Mollie, you are becoming my go-to person for YA books! I've requested this one from the library, hopefully I get it soon! Good review. :P

  4. Thanks Ames! I really liked this one. Again, I didn't think there was much NOT to like-- as long as you can handle a little more serious stuff in your YA books! I think you'll enjoy it!


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