Monday, September 7, 2009

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Plot Summary: 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.

(summary credited to

I read the galley of The Sky Is Everywhere a few months ago and was, to sum it all up, simply blown away. When I first read the summary on the back of the book, I was worried that Sky would turn out to be one of those crappy books about a promiscuous girl who is trying to balance her tangled love life, and that the extremely difficult topic of death would be something thrown in to try and make the book serious. This book immediately trumped my worries. The book touched upon death beautifully, accurately, and painfully. Sky was as much a book about the journey to a healthy way to grief as it was about finding your way in love and in life.

The Sky Is Everywhere is the the only book that I have ever read where the emotions of the protagonist are as real to me as if I were going through them. Throughout the story, I felt every single stab of pain, longing, and happiness that Lennie went through. That being said, it was an extremely painful book to get through, but the way that the topics were crafted and handled were so beautiful, it made the read as satisfying as it was painful.

Another unusual quality of The Sky Is Everywhere was that it wasn't fake in any way, shape, or form. It really is difficult to pull off a good piece of literature that involves a teenage girl being intimate with two boys, but every single action that Lennie carried out made so much sense, especially since it was connected to her grief (which in itself was astonishingly well expressed as well), that Sky really wasn't a stupid chick lit book at all.

Reading this book is also a great way for teenagers to learn about grief, and what really is the healthiest way to grieve. Every thought that Lennie has is clearly, and heartbreakingly articulated, and you really get to see what it is like to lose a sister, fall in love, and try to find yourself all at the same time.

The Sky Is Everywhere is an amazing book that I hope will get the embrace, and response it deserves. Look for it March 2010!

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