Contemporary

Pass me a tissue, will you?

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

The Skinny: 17-year old Lennie’s world is shocked by the sudden death of her older sister Bailey and she is left to pick up the pieces of her destroyed world. That’s it. Sure, there’s a love triangle, some family drama, secrets. Essentially, though, this book is about the hope of coping with loss and the beauty of growing up.*

*Sorry for the basically non-existent summary, but this book is way too beautiful for me to do it any justice.

BFF?: Not at all. I totally want her to be my sister! In fact, for this review, I’m going to refer to her as my little sister! Lennie is the perfect mix of awkwardness and innocence. Usually this combo makes me think “lame!” when I come across a character like this. But Lennie is in all ways the little sister of someone who the spotlight was always on, who sheltered her somewhat from her life. During the book Lennie discovers things: things about her sister, her family, herself. I felt like I was watching her grow up and becoming an adult. It was like seeing my little sister and wanting to give her a hug and hold her hand the whole way but knowing she had to do it on her own.

Readability: Like everything else about this book it’s poetic. Which fits, considering Lennie writes poetry on EVERYTHING she finds. Normally books that give poetic spins to everything (the chair in my vague office is black, not black as night but as dark velvet, crushing) irritate me or lose my interest. This one did not. It’s a really nice balance of poetry and sarcasm. Or what I feel the mind of a 17 year old would be like.

Crush Level: 5
There is quite a lot of sexual awakening (as well as lots of sexy times) in this book, but some  of it feels so wrong, so “I’m only doing this because I’m sad,” that it kind of makes it hard to find it crush-worthy. Lennie is torn between the comfort she finds in her sister’s boyfriend Toby and the healing she finds in the new boy at school Joe. Sounds like a great love triangle, no? No. Most of Lennie and Toby’s encounters are like this: make out, make out, crying, “I miss Bailey!”, make out, cry while making out, “I miss Bailey!” It’s sweet and tormented. I got it, knew exactly how Lennie felt. But at the same time I wanted to smack some sense into my little sister and say “Seriously?! Stop that!” You know… the way only big sisters can do.

Then there’s Joe… at first I really thought I would hate him. He’s artsy and poetic and musical and blah blah blah. But despite my reservations, he totally blew me away. Yes, he was sensitive but he’s also smart and funny and caring… The more I got to know him the more I liked him and rooted for my sister to start dating him.

He smiles and takes his index finger and presses it to my lips, leaves it there until my heart lands on Jupiter: three seconds, then removes it, and heads back into the living room. Whoa – well, that was either the dorkiest or sexiest moment of my life, and I’m voting for sexy on account of my standing here dumbstruck and giddy, wondering if he did kiss me after all.

This is how Joe is. You aren’t quite sure if it’s hot or just creepy.

Bonus Points:
Band – As a former band geek student I felt an instant connection to Lennie. Although I was never as good as she’s supposed to be, I remember that sometimes just playing music, knowing that I was making it happen, was super cathartic.

Writing – Lennie is obsessed with writing. She writes on everything she can get her hands on: her shoes, bubblegum wrappers, notebooks, a tree. In the book there are images of the things she’s written on and her poems she wrote. Hopefully you don’t blubber as much as I did reading them; there’s one at the beginning of every chapter.

The morning of the day Bailey died,
she woke me up
by putting her finger in my ear.
I hated when she did this.
She then started trying on shirts, asking me:
Which do you like better, the green or the blue?
The blue.
You didn’t even look up, Lennie.
Okay, the green. Really, I don’t care what shirt you wear…
Then I rolled over in bed and fell back asleep.
I found out later
she wore the blue
and those were the last words I ever spoke to her.

(Found written on a lollipop wrapper on the trail to the Rain River)

Sister Love – There is some major sister love in this book and at many points during it I wanted to go hug my own little sister. Lennie and Bailey’s relationship is special, the kind only sisters can have, and you can feel it in every page of the book.

Superlatives – Most Likely to Make You Grab a Tissue to Wipe Away Your Tears

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