Book Review: The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

 

…I know now how close death is. How it lurks. And who wants to know that? Who wants to know we’re just one carefree breath away from the end?

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Lennie Walker’s life is transformed by grief and love in this Young Adult novel. After the death of her older sister Bailey, Lennie struggles to come to terms with life without her. Locked in a shell of misery and unable to have an actual conversation with her grandmother, Lennie tries to heal herself through writing poems on anything she can find and leaves them everywhere for anyone to see. This process of healing hurts others along the way, but in the end it moves her closer to a place where she accepts life without Bailey, guilt-free.

Amazing. The Sky is Everywhere is Nelson’s first novel, and it is so brilliant in many ways. Number one: Lennie is beyond three-dimensional. She floated off the page and into the real world. That’s how well Nelson explored each facet of her as a character. Lennie is that teenager obsessed with books; she is that teenager who plays the clarinet and loves it to the core. She is the teenager who experiences a whirlpool of emotions: grief, love, happiness, sadness, confusion and anger. I didn’t feel myself get cross with Lennie when she made mistakes. She is a human, after all, in a messy situation.  Yes, she was selfish at times and indecisive. But, as the novel moved forward, she experienced self-realisation.

Number two: The way Nelson explored grief and love through the voice of Lennie is beautiful. I felt like I understood Lennie and how utterly unbearable it must have been for her to continue living in spite of her sister’s death. I’m going to paraphrase here. There’s a part in the book, somewhere towards the end, where Lennie accepts that sorrow and love co-exist because death is inevitable. However, this novel is not all doom and gloom. The blossoming love between Joe and Lennie is uplifting, sweet and complicated. The close relationship between Lennie, her grandmother and uncle is lovely as well.

Nelson’s insertion of poems and snippets of conversations between Lennie and Baliey added a nice touch to the novel.

The only downside for me was the pace of the novel. The beginning moved slowly and I wasn’t hooked right away. But, I’m definitely glad I didn’t get up, because the book got better.

The Sky is Everywhere reminded me a little of Alice Bliss. If you like books that deal with love and loss and have happy/funny moments too then I would recommend it.

 

 

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