Not Your Typical Grief Book

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson is not your typical grief book. It’s completely devoid of purple prose, none of this ‘heart shattering in a million pieces, never ending tears’ BS. Rather, The Sky Is Everywhere is full of genuine heart and emotion. Lennie Walker has never been the center of attention, she’s never been the one to make a splash. Instead, the spotlight has been reserved for Lennie’s older sister Bailey. When Bailey dies from an undiagnosed heart condition, Lennie finds herself lost in grief — she is unable to do what she loves, mainly play clarinet. Yet, Lennie also finds her self experiencing changes and a bit of a sexual awakening, in that she finds herself caught between two boys, feeling her sexuality for the first time.

The Sky Is Everywhere, Jandy Nelson, Book cover, heart, blue

The Sky Is Everywhere

Friends, I am a total fan of Jandy Nelson’s writing style. The Sky Is Everywhere is impossible to set down. It is gripping. Nelson’s writing would often cut me with a turn of the phrase. It would come up unexpectedly. I mean, I never cried crocodile tears while reading this, but Bailey would be mentioned, with a bit on sisterhood and I would tear up, being one of three daughters. Further, each chapter either begins or ends with poetry ‘written’ by Lennie. It’s lovely and raw with her memories, however Lennie’s poetry never feels contrived or like something a deep emo kid would write.

As a main character, Lennie Walker is vulnerable and what I would call a quiet character. She’s not the type to make a big to-do out of everything, and I love that. I honestly spent most of The Sky Is Everywhere just wanting to help Lennie feel better and bring Bailey back for her. I wanted her to play clarinet again. Yet, I would find myself cringing too. Especially when Lennie would go for whom I felt was the wrong boy. I can understand though, as I was young once and Lennie has been through such a huge tragedy, so it’s not like she’s thinking the way she would without trauma. I loved the legitimacy of Lennie’s sexuality. I love that she has those sorts of feelings and is able to act on them and not be shamed for them. The Sky Is Everywhere was a lot more sexy than I had expected.

Now, the love interests. I know, everyone’s favorite part of a book (kidding, kidding). There’s Toby who was Bailey’s boyfriend. He is a cowboy-skater, and what I would call totally sketchy. And well, I know people are all like hey he’s grieving, that’s why he goes for Lennie, but kids, that is SKEEVY. Then there is Joe Fontaine. He’s a musician and the new kid in town. He’s funny, kind, devastatingly good looking, and cultured. Also, he didn’t know Bailey and gives Lennie the chance to forge her own identity without comparisons to Bailey. I mean, I challenge you to read this book and like Toby better. It’s totally not going to happen, because Toby is just the worst and Joe Fontaine rocks.

How could I write this review without mentioning Lennie’s family. They are quirky and awesome. She loves with her Gram and her Uncle Big. Lennie’s mother who sucks abandoned her kids to live with Gram. Uncle Big is the local lothario and he seduces women in trees and proclaims things like he is handing down the ten commandments. He is awesome. Gram, she’s got this green thumb and speaks to her plants. She also has these paintings of green women all over her house. Gram is wicked awesome.

The Sky Is Everywhere is a wonderful debut. I’m sad I waited to read Jandy Nelson’s work, but I loved it all the same and my experience was not tainted by the hype machine, since it’s a 2010 book and it’s currently 2011. I am definitely looking forward to more from Nelson.

Disclosure: Purchased copy.

Other reviews of The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson:

Bookalicio.us
Anna Reads
Tahleen’s Mixed Up Files
GReads Books

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is 28 years old and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. In her free time she can be found reading, working out, or eating junk food. She often wears her sunglasses at night.

Comments

  1. I have the UK edition of the book, and my favorite parts there were the photos of the poems that Lennie leaves around. 🙂 I’m not a big fan of the romance, though, but I think I’m a minority in that. Still, you’re right — this book is full of emotion and heart. 🙂

  2. BAT BAT BAT.

  3. I was totally gonna say what Pam said…sigh. Now I have to think of something else.

    I love your review though, for real. It makes me want to read the book again!

  4. You’re right, the whole thing with Toby was weird! And I thought Joe was amazing and it’s a good thing he was there for Lennie. I’m glad I decided to read this one because I really like Jandy Nelson’s writing. At first, I thought it was just going to be a contemp YA novel with a love triangle but I was wrong.

    Hey, if you’re interested in something similar, you should read Saving June by Hannah Harrington. LOVED that one and it’s available in NetGalley right now.

  5. I loved this book but agree the whole thing with Toby was just weird.

  6. Ahh! I SO have to get this one read soon! Allison has been nagging me too! 😛 And it SO sounds like exactly the type of book that I just love! 🙂

  7. I’ve heard lots of great things about this book but I haven’t had a chance to pick it up yet. I’m glad to hear that it’s really good. I didn’t think that this one would be sexy. Hah

  8. OMG! This was a great book! It brought me to tears, and just reading it gave me the chills…BRRR! I couldn’t put it down!
    This book is soo beautifully written! Its sexy, romantic, and breathtaking! WOW!

  9. When I saw the “not your typical grief book” line on Twitter, my first thought was The Sky Is Everywhere. It’s so true! It was very different and refreshing. And it was FABULOUS. Everything you mentioned is true. The writing was beautiful, it was gripping, her family was incredibly quirky. I honestly enjoyed everything about this book, even the skeevy Toby (which, yes, there’s grieving involved, but…no, not okay).

    I was so sad when I looked up Jandy Nelson and discovered she didn’t have anything else out for me to read. I am definitely anticipating reading more from her, though.

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