Dear God, Thank you for giving us Jandy Nelson. When I wrote this post, I was itching with anticipation to read this. Thanks Aly and Nomes for the comments, you guys were so right—I totally adored it.
Summary (inside flap):
17-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends most of her time tucked safely in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulated 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 muscal talent. For Lennie, they're the sun and the moon; one 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.
My Expectations: astonishingly high.
Delivery: I LOVED IT. One of my favourite reads THIS YEAR.
It’s scary when you pick up book with so much anticipation, it really is. After all the reviews, the glowing praise and enough '5 stars' to make up a galaxy you’re scared it doesn’t work out for you. You won’t connect. Distrustful words like underwhelming and over-hyped. Lucky me though, it was definitely not the case, I am head over heels in love with The Sky is Everywhere.
Ms. Lauren Oliver (Before I Fall, Delirium), you have competition. I love your writing, honestly, but Ms. Nelson in this corner is right up there with you. Nelson captures the very essence of Lennie with provocative and confident writing that draws comparison with the likes of Laurie Halse Anderson and dare I say it?... Markus Zusak. The prose is simply gorgeous (minus the occasional "WTF" which leaves me thinking… WTF—a personal pet peeve). It’s so poetic and quirky and good it hurts sometimes, but in a weirdly good way. I absolutely adored Nelson’s crazily unique diction; for example, here’s how Lennie would describe Sarah:
When Sarah gets excited, random animals pop into her speech like she has Old McDonald Had a Farm kind of Tourette syndrome.Win. And her room:
I want to back in The Sanctum, full name: The Inner Pumpkin Sanctum, newly christened by me, when Bailey, a few months ago, persuaded me the walls of our bedroom just had to be orange, a blaringly unapologetic orange that had since made our room sunglasses optional.Lennie’s voice shines with honesty and grace, the words work together as though they are strung together with ribbon. I couldn’t help but fall in love with just how teen she was, her speech rarely sounded unauthentic to me. Her development as a character following Bailey’s death is gradual and realistic, never leaving a reader feeling cheated. She struggles but ultimately finds her place out from Bailey's shadow. Both grief and hope mingle together as she follows her path for self-discovery: mistakes are made, hearts are broken, and ultimately, souls are healed.
Her indecision between the boys didn’t bother me at all (I did think it might be too love-triangle based), I’m so glad I was wrong because her convincing reactions to her own actions were genuine and believable. Oh also, I wanted to comment on how much I loved the way music and poetry was incorporated. Especially the poetry, man, it's indescribably awesome.
Secondary characters are in a league of their own, I’m beyond impressed with the way the author breathed life into each person, their quirks and personalities add both humour and heart. I had a strong sense for both Toby and Joe (omfg, I love that boy) which was nice. I felt the plot was impeccable for my unconventional tastes, it had steady pacing and was delightfully dramatic with sexy romance and tension. This novel is Lennie’s ballad, and the plot just ushered it along.
Breathtaking similes and metaphors coupled with fantastic symbolism prove that undermining YA literature is a mistake. But when it comes down to it, you can only look critically at a book so much: voice, character, plot, writing, etc. You can only analyze it and refer to evidence but a review shouldn’t consist of only this. No, it should include how this book made you feel. The Sky is Everywhere dug deep into my cynical heart and wiggled its fingers to make me smile, laugh, love, and cry. I can’t really explain it any other way: it’s a reading experience, and one that I will not forget anytime soon.
Rating in HP Terms: Outstanding. Obviously ;)
Recommended for : Everyone. Obviously ;)
9.4/10 – the highest rating I've given this year because The Sky is Everywhere is so much more than a book about grief. So much more than its label of hope and moving on, of contemporary fiction. It is a novel that delves into the inner workings of humanity and love, loss, belonging, heartbreak, and passion. But amidst the complexities of its themes, the author never fails to convey light and humour onto the page. There’s so much soul bundled up in 276 pages that you will be scared to miss even a single paragraph. A
author twitter / website / blog
book website / trailer