Seventeen year old Lennie has her world rocked when her older sister Bailey (who is also her best friend & partner in crime) tragically dies. Still trying to deal with the aftermath, Lennie tries to continue on with life like everything is normal — like she’s still the same shy, bookworm-y, band geek she always was with little to no experience with boys — but she soon discovers that everything is different. In her grief, she finds herself having feelings for two guys. One is her sister’s boyfriend, Toby, who she shares a connection with that nobody else understands. The other is the new guy in school who always seems to show up where Lennie is. Lennie tries to wade through her romantic feelings while dealing with her immense grief and the huge hole of emptiness she feels with Bailey not around.
This book wrecked me! I’m a glutton for punishment and know that I’m going to feel a lot of things reading any books that deal with grief. When done right, I’m a mess and feel like I’m reliving it all over again. The Sky Is Everywhere is probably the most poignant, SPOT ON story of grief that I’ve ever read. It pierced my heart and made me feel sorrow but it was balanced by the beauty of Nelson’s words and the journey of healing and of love Lennie also endures. And the thing is, it’s not all doom and gloom like I thought it was going to be but it was quite hilarious at points in times. Some of the things Lennie said, thought and did made me giggle. Case in point:
Joe smiles an embarrassed half smile at Gram and Big, leans against the counter, his trumpet case strategically held over his crotch. Thank God I don’ have one of those. Who’d want a lust-o-meter sticking out the middle of their body?
The Sky is Everywhere is probably one of those most lyrical and poetic books I’ve read recently. If you love savoring beautiful passages that make you take pause before you can move on, you’ll love this one. I will be honest..I don’t often dog-ear books but there were SO MANY passages that I needed to remember that I just HAD TO. They were either just gorgeous and beautiful passages or those types of passages that really put into words some of my own grief.
“My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn’t go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That’s just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don’t get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.”
“According to all the experts, it’s time for me to talk about what I’m going through… I can’t. I’d need a new alphabet, one made of falling, of tectonic plates shifting, of the deep devouring dark.”
There were so many fabulous characters in this book and I really, more than the romance aspect of this book, really loved the relationship between that of Lennie, her uncle Big and Gram. They were just some remarkable and memorable characters and I loved some of the really tender moments Lennie shares with them towards the end of the book. I DID like both Toby and Joe Fontaine and her best friend but I really loved Big and Gram.
I’ll be honest, at first, I was really confused by this really quick romance between Lennie and Joe. Not so much on Lennie’s part — grief seems to do some crazy things in terms of emotions as I myself experienced — but I didn’t really get nor believe that Joe saw anything that spectacular in Lennie or really knew anything of her….at least from what we knew of the interactions. Later on towards the book it made a little more sense to me but I was kind of suspect of it initially. I did end up really finding him quite swoonworthy because he seemed so genuine but it took a little while for me to get there. There love was the sort of aww inducing, stand-up-and-cheer-loudly romances that I love watching! Poor Toby. Poor confused Toby. I didn’t hate him at all. I felt sorry for him — he was carrying some mighty heavy things and both he and Lennie just really misinterpreted the feelings of sorrow and loneliness they had for something else. It was sad to me.
My Final Thought: I really enjoyed The Sky is Everywhere! I’d highly recommend it to lovers of contemporary YA who love lyrical and poetic prose that makes you feel ALL OF THE THINGS and then some. You’ll find yourself just stopping every now and then to savor it. I’ve read a lot of books dealing with grief but this one was honestly one of those most true and genuine stories that just pierced my heart and made me experience the same gut wrenching, inner turmoil that Lennie does. I cried a lot during this book, for a lot of personal reasons, but also because I came to care so deeply for these characters and their pain, their mistakes, their sorrow, their bright speckle of hope become my own.
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