Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Sky is Everywhere

The Sky is Everywhere
Jandy Nelson
Dial, 2010  275 pgs
Grades 9-Up
Realistic Fiction, Romance

Seventeen-year-old Lennie's life has bottomed out.  Her beloved older sister died of a freak brain aneurysm months before and she is lost in an abyss of despair.  A gifted clarinet player, Lennie has given up on lessons and has lost interest in the instrument.  Enter cute new student, Joe.  Joe is a brilliant musician and he and Lennie instantly feel a connection.  As this friendship develops, Lennie finds herself inexplicable attracted to her late sister's boyfriend Toby.  They are both grieving and feel that only the other understands what they are going through.  Even though they know its wrong, they enter into a physical relationship.  Meanwhile, Lennie's mother left both girls when they were very young with Lennie's Grandmother, with whom she now lives, and Lennie is also struggling with feelings of abandonment by her mother.  Friendship with Joe turns to romance as Lennie and Toby continue to have clandestine encounters.  Eventually, Joe catches them at the worst possible moment and ends the relationship.  Lennie must now pick up the pieces of her grieving for her mother, sister, and lost love.  She learns to reconnect with the relationships she that remain and starts to finally put her sister to rest.

The Sky is Everywhere is an amazing book.  It became very hard to read in some places and I had to take a break from it a few times.  Lennie's life is so sad and Nelson writes it so believably, that I had to put it down.  Nelson captures the voice of a seventeen-year-old perfectly.  The book was honest, beautiful, and realistic.  Sprinkled throughout at the beginning and endings of chapters are poems that Lenny has written on random things and left in random places.  Its the poems that bring her and Joe back together.  Lennie tries many false tactics to win back Joe, but only when she strips her soul bare and presents her genuine self does she manage to break through.  I love the relationship between Lennie and Gram.  Lennie's grandmother is an interesting character, an artist who is able to grow magical roses that make people fall in love, and her unending patience and understanding of Lennie is what brings her through.  This book celebrates the power of music, of poetry, of forgiveness and healing.  It will appeal to girls more than boys.  Even though its romantic in nature, there is much more to the novel than meets the eye.  I have read so much "dead girl fiction" in the past couple of years and put off reading this one, but, honestly, I think it's the best of the bunch and well worth the time spent.  I now have to read the author's 2014 novel I'll Give You the Sun, which is generating a lot of buzz.

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