Review of ‘The Sky Is Everywhere’ by Jandy Nelson


This book is sorrowfully beautiful. It is also another book hat I picked up while at the YALC event this year. I bought it mainly because of how much I enjoyed ‘I’ll Give You The Sun’! And I thought, “Hey, if I read her second book, I should probably read her début!” So I did and I, in no way, regret continuing to read books by Jandy Nelson.

This book follows Lennie (named after John Lennon) Walker, as she grieves for her dead sister, Bailey. Also thrown into the mix is her crazy Gram, Uncle Big, who uses pyramids to resurrect dead insects, and love. Ah, love. It wouldn’t be a contemporary novel without it, would it? Lennie falls for both the new musician in town, Joe Fontaine, and her sister’s boyfriend, Toby Shaw. Uh-oh! Lennie has to deal with that on top of dealing with guilt over falling in love, instead of grieving fro her sister.

When we join Lennie in her story, her sister’s death is a fresh wound and the pain she feels is strong. I really liked the way Nelson presented ideas of grief in the book. I was made to feel as if grief is tragic and horrible, but also allows us to turn over a new leaf. There is a part in the story where Lennie says that if Bailey hadn’t died, she would still be a tortoise stuck in her shell. I thought a lot about this analogy and found it rather optimistic, because it showed how grief and loss can change someone for the better.

Both music and poetry play a huge part in Lennie’s life and act as coping mechanisms. Nelson’s writing really showed how Lennie can get lost in her clarinet playing. I also thought that the kooky idea of Lennie leaving heartfelt poetry around town, really great. It was very original and heart warming. The creative arts play a huge role in Nelson’s books, something I also noticed in ‘I’ll Give You The Sun’. I always find Nelson’s writing quite lyrical; perhaps because she is a poet heart.

The love interests in this book are great, charming, charismatic and forbidden (always a good trait). There were times in the book where I physically shook it, because I was so frustrated with what Lennie was doing in her grief stricken haze. I’m not going to tell you if it all works out for Lennie, but I was definitely rooting for her from the start.

I also enjoyed the aspect of Lennie’s absent mother and how she had somehow dressed her up to be some godly figure, looking down on her. I think the realisations that Lennie makes throughout the story, about herself and the people around her, are very poignant indeed.

My favourite character in the book is Lennie (preditable, right?), because she is just so damn interesting! The observations that she makes about herself and the world are not only breathtaking and beautiful, but really hit home and made sense. ‘The Sky Is Everywhere’ is a poignant masterpiece.

5/5 stars are awarded to ‘The Sky Is Everywhere’ by Jandy Nelson.

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