Thursday, September 30, 2010

Review - The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson -
5 out of 5 stars

Summary via goodreads.
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.

First let me start by saying I'm reviewing the UK version of this book. The UK version has a soft, leather-like cover and is bound like a journal. It features color photos of all the poems in their locations (written on trees, candy wrappers) and I understand the US version doesn't have that, which is a shame because I think it really elevates the book into a piece of art.

I loved this book. Although honestly, it took me a while to get into it. I love poetry, and poetic writing, but for whatever reason I found I had to sort of adjust to the way Lennie spoke. Once I did though, I was hooked. So if you start it and like me aren't fully sucked in immediately, stick with this book. It's worth it!

I loved how complicated, and messy, and beautiful and painful this story was. It has to be one of the best, most honest, and realistic portrayals of grief that I have ever read. I loved that Jandy Nelson didn't shy away from the raw emotions Lennie and Toby felt. Lennie and Toby's need to be close to the thing Bailey loved the most (each other), combined with her need to be comforted physically and emotionally is real and heartbreaking to watch. You want to shout at them and you want to give them a hug.

At first, Joe is almost too perfect, and a lot of times I find that unappealing, but just when you think Joe is so good he can't be real, his shell cracks (or really, Lennie finally takes a moment away from her own drama to really see him and what's going on around her) and Joe becomes as three-dimensional as everyone else.

I loved the strong family dynamic and that at the same time, Lennie, her grandma, and uncle didn't know how to be a family without Bailey. The subplot about Lennie's mother, the world-adventurer, also added depth.

Lennie's poems, found scattered around town add an emotional touch. They're placed perfectly, often revealing things that she won't admit to us or herself. I can't say enough how beautiful, and okay, cool it is to see them in the book they way they were written in the book. If you're worried this is a verse book, it's not. But the poems are definitely essential and often, very moving.

I think a lot of people would call this a "quiet" book and in many ways it is, but it's also a powerful, emotional, sensual even, story filled with tiny earthquakes, that shake Lennie to her core and force her to rebuild from scratch. THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE is a beautiful book about loss and love and choosing the life you want to lead.

Cover: As you can see, I have the UK cover posted above. I really really did not like the US version. So much so (and this is just me being weird) that I didn't want to read the book despite all the good reviews. When I found the UK version at The Book Depository I was stoked. (Plus I got it for only $6!)

Writing: 4.5/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 4.5/5

Overall Rating: 5/5


Amanda Hannah said...

I am INSANELY jealous of the UK version. I loved the book, but with that kind of binding and poetry backdrops? Gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

The UK version is stunning, isn't it? I bet Jandy's US publishers are jealous they didn't do it like that!

Fab review, I really loved the book, too. One of my favourites of the year!

L.J. Boldyrev said...

I love the illustrations! Sad mine doesn't have them. *sniffle* Great review!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I love books like this, but sometimes you just don't think to pick them up because they are so quiet. I'll be looking this one up. Sounds touching. Super review, Valerie!

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