Thursday, September 27, 2012
THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by JANDY NELSON (Goodreads)
Source: Borrowed from the library
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.
The Sky is Everywhere is a beautifully written novel, and Jandy Nelson did a great job telling this story of how Lennie deals with her grief about losing her older sister Bailey. I haven't experienced losing someone in my immediate family, but this book certainly managed to draw on emotions that can be recognized universally by anyone who has experienced grief.
The best thing about this book, to me, is the fact that the characters are well-written. I loved each of them for very different reasons, and I do feel like the story was certainly driven by each of them, Lennie and Bailey especially.
Lennon, otherwise called Lennie, is an interesting character to me. This book is mostly about her journey - both the one she takes as she learns to deal with her sister's death and absence, and the one she goes on to discover things that she didn't know about herself. Because she was written so authentically, I found it was easy to relate to her and to root for her along the way. I particularly love that she expressed herself through her music (which I feel must sound amazing from the way it's described) and her poetry (which is pretty darn awesome, no lie).
I think I may have said it more than once as I was reading but I think everyone needs a Joe Fontaine in their lives. He's not only incredibly sweet or insanely talented; he's got the most incredible levels of positivity and passion. I would love to have that kind of positive
person force in my life, as I would find it incredibly inspiring and it would definitely bring me a lot of hope.
I can't write this review without mentioning Lennie and Bailey's unconventional family. It's always interesting to meet families that are atypical of the mold, and in this case, it means that family consists of Lennie, Bailey (before she passed), Gram and Uncle Big. I think it's a nice touch that each member of the family has their passion - Bailey loves acting and performing, Lennie loves music and writing, Gram loves her flowers and painting, and Uncle Big is an arborist and a pothead. It makes each character distinct and unique and incredibly different - and despite the differences between them, I honestly couldn't imagine their family being any other way after finishing The Sky is Everywhere.
And of course, there's Bailey. I actually really want to say that Jandy Nelson did an incredible job of making her, of course, a significant part of the entire book even if she had already passed away before it began. Her death was certainly a monumental turning point for the characters, but somehow, she still felt alive, thanks to the memories that Lennie ruminated over in the book. I really felt like I got to know her, and I actually really liked that.
Grief makes people do funny things sometimes. It’s not an excuse, but it can explain why someone acts a certain way. It definitely comes across that way in The Sky is Everywhere. Grief leaves you in an endlessly hollow state where you cling to everything that reminds you of the person you’ve lost just to keep them alive. It requires time to adjust to the "new normal" and I like how the book shows how Lennie took that time for herself, until she could finally find peace. Jandy Nelson wrote an incredibly lovely story, and I certainly think The Sky is Everywhere is worth a read.