Book Review: The Sky is Everywhere (Jandy Nelson)
Publisher: Walker Books
Release Date: February 5th 2015
Summary (From Goodreads):
Lennie Walker 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 centre stage of her own life – and suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two boys. One boy takes Lennie out of her sorrow; the other comforts her in it. But the two can’t collide without Lennie’s world exploding…
Ugh this book hurt my heart so much.
I had no idea what it was about when I picked it up, and after glancing at the back and realising a love triangle was about to happen, I wasn’t too keen (anyone who’s read any of my reviews will realise by now I have a bit of a problem with the love triangle trend). I wasn’t going to let that stop me having a go though.
While the love triangle does play a big part in the story, it’s not like one I’ve ever read before. Not only is it completely organic – you can see why the attraction to both boy’s has started, and the different appeal of both of them – but it also doesn’t feel like one of them has just been shoved in there to create some tension. This is a love triangle that works.
The book is full of kooky characters who are all a bit larger than life: Gram, Big, and the ever present Bailey, who is a character alive as any of the others, even though her death is announced in the first paragraph. It’s this that makes the pain of losing her so real: she’s not just an unknown character who’s dead before the story starts. She’s real and it hurts.
This is a love story, but it’s also about grief, and how to cope when the worst thing happens. It’s not full of answers on what to do in that situation – because there is, unfortunately, no magic answer – but it does end feeling more positive. Lennie’s attempts to deal with her grief may not seem natural to her but everyone deals with things in different ways, whatever you can to feel better and start moving on, even if moving on feels like betrayal.
That’s what gripped me emotionally with the book: it was Lennie’s guilt whenever she didn’t think about her dead sister, whenever she did something that might have upset Bailey, whenever she enjoyed herself without her. It’s so easy to get lost in grief and feel as if you should wear it around you at all times, when in reality you should just take those periods where it isn’t clouding you as relief, not as proof you’re a terrible person and forgetting you’re bereaved too quickly.
The ending almost had me in tears, which is very rare for me. When Lennie, finally has it out with Gram and realises she’s not the only person hurting: I felt so choked up and just wanted to hug them both. I thought it was brave of Lennie to stay and apologise, because I could feel the urge to run and just keep running, and that’s always so hard to resist.
Scattered throughout the book are little poems that Lennie writes, and these really add to the grief and help to characterise her and Bailey’s relationship. There’s something infinitely romantic about writing down your feelings and scattering them to the wind, and I loved that it was her love for Bailey that was expressed in them. To me, the best love stories aren’t the typical ones, but those between family and friends.
This is a spectacularly emotional read, an unflinching look at grief that will really tug at your heartstrings, but also make you smile as well.
If you enjoyed this, you may also like The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell