Monday, February 8, 2010

Book Review: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Title: The Sky is Everywhere

Author: Jandy Nelson

Pages: 288

Received from: author/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.

Jandy Nelson's debut is, without a doubt, unique. Not by the plot, as I'm sure we could all think of at least ten novels involving a character with a dead sibling and a budding relationship, but for the prose alone. Written in as a lovely, scatter-brained yet mature sort of rant, I have a good feeling that if someone removed the YA tag the thing would be nominated for some Big Time Award. Who knows, it might still. It hasn't even been released yet.

Anyway, the plot. Lennie, clarinetist, bookworm and daughter of nobody, is in the midst of grief after the passing of her ninteen-year-old sister Bailey. On her first day back to her hippie high school, she meets the new French import Joe Fontaine, a breath of fresh air in an ocean of pity. But then there's Toby, Bailey's boyfriend. One helps Lennie forget, the other helps her deal. With Toby, however, its like they're both pretending she is Bailey, and gives Lennie the feeling that she's betraying Bailey. And there's a lot of angst and self-pity, and for a while there I for realz wanted to smack Lennie upside the head with her creased copy of Wuthering Heights. I mean, I get that shes grieving, but she can't feel that bad if she keeps getting it on with Toby. Seriously.

But, as I said, its not really the characters or the plot that grabs your attention. It's the prose, the poems Lennie leaves around seperating chapters. It's the writing itself that is such a beautiful depiction of a grieving teenagers pysche that made me fall in love with Lennie and Joe and even Bailey.

At the risk of sounding cheesey, I'll end this review here. Just know, dear readers, that if you are searching for a profound, poetic, romantic, and touching tragedy, look no further then The Sky is Everywhere.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Also: a great few lines from one of Lennie's poems--

then i touch all the things
that haven't moved since she died
crumpled up dollars
dredged from sweaty pockets
the three bottles of perfume
always the same amount of liquid in them now
the Sam Shepard play
Fools for Love
where her bookmark will never move forward
i've read it for her twice now
always putting the bookmark back
where it was when i finish--
it kills me
she will never find out
what happens
in the end

(found on the inside cover of Wuthering Heights, Clover High Library)


Elie said...

Great review. I did not realize this book was so full of poetry. It sounds like it had a nice flow and definitely beautiful language. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Very nice review.:) I'm looking forward to this book.

choco (In Which a Girl Reads) said...

Great review, I loved the summary you provided. Plus that poem you shared is beautiful so I'm definitely going to hunt this one down when it comes out :)

robby (once upon a book blog/fourteen years) said...

this need to read this

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