Lennie plays second clarinet in the school orchestra and has always happily been second fiddle to her charismatic older sister, Bailey. Then Bailey dies suddenly, and Lennie is left at sea without her anchor. Overcome by emotion, Lennie soon finds herself torn between two boys: Bailey’s boyfriend, Toby, and Joe, the charming and musically gifted new boy in town. While Toby can’t see her without seeing Bailey and Joe sees her only for herself, each offers Lennie something she desperately needs. But ultimately, it’s up to Lennie to find her own way toward what she really needs-without Bailey. A remarkable debut novel perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block.
I know, I know you should never judge a book by its cover but, I’m telling you, The Sky is Everywhere is the rare exception. This one perfectly captures the essence of the story–beautiful and uplifting and I can’t help but stare and marvel at it now that I’ve finished.
Jandy Nelson’s novel tells the story of Lennie Walker, a high school junior, her grandmother who goes by “Gram”, and her Uncle Big who are all dealing with the aftermath of Lennie’s sister‘s death, Bailey. Each one of them grieves in their own, kooky way. Gram spends endless hours painting and excessively fussing over her garden. Big pretty much talks to trees and tries to resurrect lifeless bugs. And Lennie plays the clarinet and scribbles poems on anything she can get her hands on. And then she tucks them away in various places in the small town of California they live in.
First off, I would highly suggest reading the UK version because the illustrations are amazing and add so much to the story. One of my favorite parts about this book are the images of poems in between each chapter. By the last poem, I felt as if I had a nuanced understanding of Lennie and even of her sister Bailey; I felt like these sisters were a part of my own life.
Before Bailey’s death, Lennie’s life was as simplistic as her job making lasagna. But then some unknown ingredients are mixed in and, suddenly, Lennie is torn between two boys, is unable to steal a guiltless moment of happiness, and, unconsciously, hurts the closest people in her life. After a while, she doesn’t even recognize herself anymore. But then she does something profoundly brave, she becomes the author of her own story and makes the change she reads about, happen in her own life.
I really enjoyed The Sky is Everywhere for so many reasons but mainly because Lennie’s character is achingly honest. She broke my heart and made me fall in love. And even in the midst of a tragedy, she remains true to her witty and underrated humorous nature. However, be advised, this book is a tear-jerker so you may want to avoid reading it in public, as tempting as it is.
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