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Monday, 19 July 2010

Review: The Sky is Everywhere

Author: Jandy Nelson
Release date: 7th June 2010 UK (debut novel)
Genre: Realism / Issues / Contemporary Teen Life
Target audience: 12+


Summary from Amazon:
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...

Review:
The Sky is Everywhere is a soulful, touching, heartbreaking and acutely truthful story of a girl who is grieving for her dead sister. Lennie's world is broken into a million pieces after the sudden death of her older sister Bailey. They were two rings on a finger, the two shells of a clam, two arrows shot from the same bow. Lennie's life is suddenly transformed by a huge absence. Every day is a day that Bailey will never see. The pain of Lennie's grief is raw and believeable. She finds it difficult to talk about her loss with her family and feels that the only other person who can understand her grief is Bailey's boyfriend Toby. Through their grief they find a physical connection which leads to them kissing, Lennie is left burning with shame and guilt because she has betrayed her sister. But there is also another boy in this story -- Joe Fontaine -- who makes Lennie's heart leap with his trumpet playing and her legs turn to jelly with his long eyelashes. This new found love also burdens Lennie because surely she should not be able to feel such joy in a world that is devoid of Bailey?

The story mesmerised me from start to finish. It was the sort of book that you just fall straight into and are their holding Lennie's hand from the very beginning. You feel crumpled up like the scraps of paper she writes on and raw like skin that has been scratched over and over. Immediately you connect with her and want to help her to find a way through the pain. Then there is Gram who is a rather eccentric and exceptionally talented gardener. And Uncle Big who has the strangest moustache that I have ever read about and also an addiction to asking women to marry him. They are an adorably odd family all fighting to find a ray of light to guide them through their grief.

One of the wonderful things about this book is the interweaving of poetry and prose. Lennie writes her feelings and questions and anguish on to anything she can get her hands on -- sweets wrappers, her shoes, a tree trunk. It is these moments of concise and direct emotion that really moved me and wrapped me up in their bittersweet truth. The happiness of the memory. The Agony of knowing you are never going to see the person again.

Despite the sadness and pain that marks this story, there is still a warmth from the love that Lennie experiences. First love after such great a loss tastes like just picked strawberries -- so unbelievably sweet and juicy. This is such a remarkable book. It draws grief in a truthful light. It made me sob out my sorrow but it also made me smile because there is always hope, you only have to look at the sky.

Thanks to Walker Books for sending me the book to review.

25 comments:

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

I am so glad this book is great because it's on my wishlist and I can't wait to get my greedy little hands on it.;) I love the idea of Lennie writing her thoughts etc. on whatever she can find at the moment. That's great.

The Readings of a Busy Mom said...

im gonna read this next i think its on my TBR pile patiently waiting in all its glory ;o). Great Review

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Cass said...

I received my own copy of The Sky is Everywhere in the mail today!!! :D SQUEE! It's beautiful- not as brightly blue as I anticipated, but I love how everything is BLUE (ALL text, inside covers), and it feels really nice. I want to buy the US hardcover/softcover (can't decide yet...) because I love both covers so much.

I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm THRILLED to get to read this book! I hope it doesn't disappoint.

Rachel Star said...

I really want to read this! It sounds a bit like the stuff Gabrielle Zevin writes, and I love her books. Also it's been getting great reviews all over the place.

Darlyn said...

I dont have a copy of it yet but i heard so many good things about the book. thanks for the lovely review!

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

I am SO glad you loved this as much as I did! It really is a beautiful book.

Library Mice said...

I am not reading your review yet because I'm reading this really soon!!!

Alison said...

I finished this book a few days ago. The book is beyond wonderful. It was a bit hard to read because it was so "real," but the writing was just so beautiful that I savored every word. Great review.

Christina/Book Addict said...

I've had my eye on this book for awhile now, but held off b/c I thought it would be too depressing. But you said it reminds you that there's always hope so perhaps I'll give this one a try. Thanks for the great review, Becky!

Becky said...

Irena, I think you will really love this book. Hope you treat yourself to a copy soon.

Busy Mom, enjoy! I devoured this in two days.

Cass, the finished copy is so beautiful. I will have to get one as I had an ARC.

Rachel Star, you're right. I can't think of a single person who has read it and not loved it.

Darlyn, and thank you for the lovely comment.

Sophie, isn't it just? Poetic and extraordinarily poignant.

Library Mice, I understand and I look forward to reading your thoughts on it.

Alison, every word had so much weight, didn't it? No excess just the heart of the matter.

Christina, It is sad but not at all depressing. Quite uplifting in its own way. Enjoy!

Sasha said...

CAN'T WAIT TO READ THIS! YAY!!!! Great review :)

Becky said...

Sasha, LOL! I have emailed you x

Robby said...

I have wanted to read this book for such a long time. Every review is praising it, practically commanding whichever reader to run to the bookstore and buy it. I cannot wait for this.

Carla said...

This is hands down one of my all time favourite books, if I could steal Jandy and have her read the story to me out loud, I so would.

Splendibird said...

Isn't it just amazing?? I absolutely loved it and am with Carla when she says it is one of her all time favourites. Also, because of its beautiful binding/ink/cover it felt like something really special when I was reading it. I am so glad that it is on my shelf as I plan on re-reading it many times in the future.

Clover said...

One of my favourite books of the year so far and one of the prettiest books I've seen in a very long time!

Becky said...

Robby, certainly. I think you will adore it.

Carla, oh yes! wouldn't this just break your heart if you had it on audio.

Splendibird, I am jealous of all of you who have the finished copy. I think I will have to add it on my Christmas list.

Clover, this really is a special one, isn't it?! Thanks for stopping by.

Cleverly Inked said...

I also loved this book.

I Want To Read That said...

Fantastic review! I HAVE to read this soon - it sounds sooooo good!

Becky said...

Cleverly Inked, I think it is just one of those books that you can't help but adore.

Sammee, yes you do! It is wonderful.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Wow. It sounds so powerful :) Thanks for the review!

Becky said...

Juju, I have a gut feeling that you will really love this one.

Library Mice said...

I finished it last night very very late. I found it hard to get into it but suddenly I could not stop! I cried a lot, but that's not unusual! Lovely review Becky. I am gathering my thoughts before writing mine! :0)

what...more books said...

I just finished reading and reviewing this book too. it was such a great book and wished it was longer, i was very sad when it came to an end.

Rebecca-Books said...

I just got this book in the shops because I loved the journal like design. Thanks, great review, I'm going to be looking forward to reading it :)