I was lucky enough to be sent an ARC of The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. And oh, it was amazing. I thought I'd heard about it in the blogophere before, but when the book was actually in front of me, I realised that I probably hadn't. There is a lot to like with The Sky Is Everywhere. The kooky characters, the music, the poetry, the romantic interest. But what I loved the most is Lennie's emotional journey.
"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. This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable."
I don't normally rely on the publisher's summary, but I was unable to write my own. There's just so much going on in this book. One of my favourite aspects of the book are Lennie's sorrow-filled poems that she writes, on anything she can find, paper cups and scraps of paper that are buried or hidden or left to fly in the wind. I like that idea. The thought of someone randomly finding such a poem, letting my thoughts and emotion be spread out like that.
I also liked how music and literature play a part in Lennie's life. I'm not sure what a clarinet actually sounds like, but I imagine it to be a little haunting, but in a beautiful way. And I can just imagine Lennie's battered old copy of Wuthering Heights. It's a very artsy family, Lennie's. With the clarinet and the book-nerdiness. The poetry, the grandmother's green-lady paintings. I could just see everything so well. The picture of Lennie's family, and her grief is portrayed so realistically that when I finished reading this book, I found it hard to adjust. This characters became so real to me.
And while I thought the relationship between Lennie and Toby was a little icky, I could still understand it. Lennie being so messed up and holding onto the things closest to Bailey, sitting in Bailey's closet and not touching her things. Not moving on. Until Joe Fontaine. Now, really. If there was ever a boy to have a crush on in a YA book, it's Joe Fontaine. Just the thought of him puts a smile on my face.
So many themes running through this book, grief and loss. Secrets and lies. First love. There's something for everyone here. It's one of my favourite books to have read this year. I keep comparing other YA books I've been reading to this one and finding other books to be lacking. I hope if you haven't already, that you pick up this book and read it. Fall in love with it like I did.