I’ve had my copy of The Sky is Everywhere since March because a good friend gave it as a gift for my birthday. I’ve heard good things about it but I haven’t had a chance to read it until last week. This was chosen as the monthly read for August in one of my Goodreads’ groups so I had to bump it up my TBR.
Here’s the summary from Jandy Nelson’s website:
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 sister Bailey. But when Bailey dies suddenly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life — and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, 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.
When Lennie goes back to school after her sister Bailey passed away, she knows that nothing will ever be the same and she feels like no one understands what she’s going through except for Bailey’s boyfriend, Toby. She’s bowled over when she meets the new student at band practice, Joe Fontaine of the incredible eyelashes and grin the size of continental United States. She doesn’t understand why she’s so affected by this stranger and why he occupies her thoughts when she should be thinking about Bailey.
It was easy for me to empathize with Lennie, having experienced the loss of a loved one a couple of years ago. I love how this book tackles grief and how Lennie handles hers in ways that even she doesn’t understand. The Sky is Everywhere is so much more than a story with a love triangle as the summary implies. Even if the story occurs after Bailey passed away, you still feel like you get to know Bailey through Lennie’s memories of her. I like how the book deals with loss, but balanced with that unhappiness is the sense of wonder and giddiness that comes with falling in love. Lennie struggles to cope with her sorrow and learns to accept that life goes on even without her sister.
There are a lot of quotable lines from this book but here’s one that I especially liked:
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. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That’s just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don’t get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.
I highly recommend this book because I have a feeling a lot of people will be able to relate with Lennie and everything she’s going through. I enjoyed reading about the quirky secondary characters – it seemed like every character in this book has a very original personality. I also liked the poems scattered all throughout the book, poems about Bailey that Lennie writes in every surface that she can find. In the UK paperback edition, I’ve seen that the text is blue and it looks like handwriting in a journal and that the poems come in colored pictures that make the whole thing look like a scrapbook. I have the US hardcover edition, where everything’s in black ink. All in all, a very strong debut for Jandy Nelson and I will watch out for any other book that she writes.