Author: Jandy Nelson
Description: Seventeen-year-old 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, 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, with a nearly magical grin. 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…
Star Rating: 4.5/5
Last week’s book review was one of my favourites, so I decided to write another review about Jandy Nelson’s first book, The Sky is Everywhere. I hope you enjoy it! Also, there may be a few spoilers!
This book hit me just as hard as I’ll Give You the Sun did. Jandy Nelson’s debut novel focuses on the life of Lennie, who has just lost her older sister Bailey, whom she relied on heavily. The book tells the story of how she, and her family members Gram and Uncle Big, deal with that grief.
It’s really interesting to see who and what can affect how she grieves. This is done by introducing two love interests: Toby, who was Bailey’s boyfriend, and Joe who’s the new guy in town. Toby seems to console and comfort her grief, whereas Joe actually helps her out of her grief.
Two other characters who are quite key to the plot are Gram and Uncle Big, who constantly help Lennie to face her grief. They link quite nicely to the themes of the novel as well; a key theme in the novel is nature, and Gram has a ‘Lennie Plant’, in which Gram believes can see what emotions Lennie is feeling. Little details like this that link into the themes make the novel even more brilliant, as everything links together, which is something that Jandy Nelson does with perfection.
Another theme that is recurring in the novel is music. Lennie has an extortionate amount of love for her clarinet and band class, and she bonds over music with Joe, who has a love for his trumpet and guitar. Music is also featured in a key turning-point in the novel, where Lennie duets with Joe. It’s such a beautiful and special moment for the characters and the readers, as it shows that they grow closer and bond over something that they both share a passion in, which makes it even more spectacular.
Death is also an obvious theme in the book, with Bailey’s tragic death and Gram’s flowers dying. Bailey’s death is so tragic, and even more so when her death is foreshadowed by her playing Juliet in her school play. To me, this is something that adds to the extreme and poignant meaning of the event that occurred. Bailey’s death leads into Toby’s and Lennie’s grief-filled love, which is such a sad element to the book as you can clearly see both of them carrying Bailey’s death like a burden, and it brings them closer together, which in my opinion may not be a good thing but it’s heartbreaking to watch.
After saying all of this, I think my favourite element of the book are the poems that Lennie leaves across her town. To me, this signifies the sheer amount of sadness that Lennie has inside of her; people typically write feelings down in a diary so they can keep it with them. By writing these poems on anything she can find just shows that she isn’t writing it so she can keep it, she’s writing it because she has to have it as an outlet – it’s not something that she wants to keep as a memory.
I gave this book 4.5/5 stars, only because I feel like the ending came a bit too soon. I don’t think that Joe should have forgiven Lennie as quickly as he did. It was a beautiful moment, but I don’t feel it should have happened as early as it did, judging by what Lennie actually did to him. Excluding that, I loved the book. Everything came together and it was written in a beautiful style. Out of the two novels that Jandy Nelson has written, I have loved both of them and I cannot wait to read more of her later novels.
I really hope that you enjoyed this review, happy reading!