276 pp. Dial Books (Penguin Group). 2010 ISBN: 978-0-8037-3495-1 (Hardcover)
(From the publisher) “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 need a moment to gush- I couldn’t get enough of this extraordinary novel!! Of course I want you to read my review, but seriously, just go buy this book. I’ll wait for you to get back, I promise The Sky is Everywhere is a drop what you’re reading right now and start reading this instead kind of book.
To start, I need to bring up Jandy Nelson’s writing style. Her bio on the back flap says she has a degree in poetry and it’s evident in her writing. The story is beautifully lyrical and easy to read. I especially enjoyed the poetry included that’s written by Lennie. It’s creative and honest; it’s a great representation of what a talented teenager might write. Imagery is always important in novels and the imagery Nelson creates is spectacular. “The flower is blooming again in my chest, this time three seconds from bud to showstopper.” Is it possible to read this line and not visualize a girl falling in love?
Considering my love of great characters, I must mention Lennie. She is deep, conflicted, and talented. Lennie is a talented poet and clarinetess, both of which give her an emotional outlet to deal with Bailey’s death. Lennie’ poetry is personal and therapeutic, but she writes these poems on anything she can (i.e. paper cups, tree limbs) and leaves them for people to discover. Even though Emily Dickinson kept her poems hidden and private while she was alive, Lennie’s poetry reminded me of Dickinson’s poems. Both wrote poetry in response to their observations of the world around them. Lennie’s poetry is written according to how she’s feeling now about her trials in love and her feelings about Bailey’s death. It’s also written reflecting on her different interactions and conversations with Bailey.
The Sky is Everywhere will speak to teens in multiple ways. Not all teenage girls will relate to a love triangle like Lennie’s, but many will relate to feeling like the second fiddle to a sibling or friend. One of the biggest conflicts of the story is about Lennie climbing out from under Bailey’s shadow. Bailey didn’t try to make Lennie feel sub-par, but Lennie still felt that way only she didn’t truly realize it until after Bailey’s death. Now Lennie is left to wonder if she’s better than second chair clarinet and good/beautiful enough for a spectacular boy like Joe. Lennie is a richly layered character that readers will easily respond to.
Overall, I without a doubt give The Sky is Everywhere five stars. Jandy Nelson has proven herself as an enormously talented new author. I eagerly await for her next novel!