The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Yesterday, searching for something "light" to read, I picked up The Sky Is Everywhere. Funny how I needed to relax and ended up not being able to put it down until I finished the last page, at 2am.
Lennie Walker is a teenage clarinetist whose beloved sister, Bailey, suddenly dies of a heart failure. This is the story of her journey through grief and loss, through teenage hormones and love, through family and friendship, in the quest to eventually find her true self and survive her sister's death.
I loved this book on so many levels I need to organize my thoughts on a list. So I am going to give a star to every thing I liked about it:
1 star goes to the book itself because it is gorgeous.
My edition came in the style of a diary, with the little elastic band lengthwise to keep it closed, a rough cover, a used look. Not to talk about the whole book being printed in blue ink. I fell in love instantly.
1 star goes to the writing style.
This author, this woman, is a published poet. I felt bad for so many other authors whose books I've read lately and don't stand a chance when compared to this. Her writing style is musical, evocative, colorful, humorous, snarky, visual.... just the way I like it. And let's always remember that we're talking about YA lit here. Her descriptions are so intelligent and to the point I couldn't help but note them down. One for all, when Lennie describes Joe Fontaine's cheerful character:
the guy's life-drunk, I think, makes Candide looks like a sourpuss. Does he even know that death exists?
It struck me so, because I thought about myself and realized how until a few years ago, I thought I was immortal or close to it. Then you have children and all you can think is that you'll die soon.
But apart from this, there are so many great passages in the book, you just need to pick it up and read it.
1 star goes to the notes inserted in the book.
Lennie, after her sister dies, starts to write little notes and poems to Bailey and about Bailey, snapshots of their life together. She writes them on anything she can find, candy wrappers, abandoned coffee cups, toilet walls, tree barks and then she just leaves them there for everybody -or nobody- to find. All these handwritten notes are printed out at the beginning of each new chapter throughout all the book, with a note on where they were found but not by whom. It's like they're a little book within the book and their purpose comes clear at the end.
1 star goes to the plot.
This book is not about flawless characters - even though, end in end, it seems to be about flawless love and that's the part I liked least - because Lennie does many stupid things in the story. She is part of a family of weirdos, where her uncle is a giant, a pothead and about to get married for the 5th time, where her mother abandoned her and her sister at birth never to be seen again and where her grandmother is a miracle gardener/painter/hippie whose roses are known to have aphrodisiac powers on people. This would all be extremely hilarious if not for the fact that the family is totally submerged in grief for Bailey's death and does not have a clue how to cope. Lennie's response is shocking: she starts a relationship with Bailey's boyfriend while falling in love with Joe. And she makes a total mess out of it, of course.
Note: even devoid of one single sex scene, this book is way steamier than others where sex is explicit - I'd say my imagination works rather well at least.
My last star goes to the way death is treated in this book.
I thought it was true, realistic and very honest. Her descriptions of how she felt left behind, of all her grief, of the unjustness of a broken life and of her guilt and loneliness at being the one who survived, really touched my heart. Lennie writes on a note:
I wouldn't know how to express loneliness in a better way.
View all my reviews