Review: The Sky is Everywhere

Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and 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 center 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, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.

This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.–From Amazon

The Sky Is Everywhere is a book so special it’s hard to describe–it’s difficult for me to gush articulately sometimes. Before this novel, Jandy Nelson wrote poetry. Lennie’s poems are interspersed throughout the book (on beautifully rendered images of the objects on which the poems were written), but truthfully, the whole book reads like poetry. Nelson’s language is exquisite. Even in a book that deals with the aftermath of death, there is so much hope and beauty, and characters bigger than life who are incredibly hard not to love.

I bought this book because of the buzz before its release. Then, when I was at the LA Times Festival of Books, I listened to Gayle Forman and Sonya Sones go on about how much they loved it. Still, my TBR pile is long, and this book sat on my shelves for a while until I almost forgot it was there. I’m so glad I picked it up yesterday. I laughed and cried along with Lennie, I shared her crush on Joe and got butterflies every time they kissed, and I was constantly amused by Gram and Big, who are such charmingly eccentric characters.

This is a book about grief, but it is also a book about moving on and taking charge of your own life. Though Lennie feels it is wrong for any good to come from her sister’s death, it is indeed the loss of Bailey which causes her to wake up and write her own story. The superb writing and characterization in this novel made it one of my favorites of the year.

Quotable Quotes from The Sky is Everywhere

  • “It’s as if someone vacuumed up the horizon while we were looking the other way.”
  • “Tulip is a two-ton bruiser of a guy who would be the star of our football team if we were the kind of school that had a football team. We’re not. We’re the kind of school that has optional morning medication in the gym.”
  • “Aunt Gooch is the name Bailey and I gave to Gram’s laugh because it would arrive without notice like a crazy relative who shows up at the door with pink hair, a suitcase full of balloons, and no intention of leaving.”
  • “I always imagined music trapped inside my clarinet, not trapped inside of me. But what if music is what escapes when a heart breaks?”
  • “She sent me a text today: Sending out a search party for our friendship. I haven’t responded. I don’t know where it is either.”
  • “The Fontaine boys are like a litter of enormous puppies, rushing and swiping at each other, stumbling all around, a whirl of perpetual motion and violent affection.”
  • “With the same lips that just kissed someone else, I kiss away his questions, his suspicion, and after a while, I kiss away the someone else too, the something else that almost just happened, until it is only the two of us, Joe and me, in the room, in the world, in my crazy swelling heart.”
  • “I know the expression love bloomed is metaphorical, but in my heart in this moment, there is one badass flower, captured in time-lapse photography, going from bud to wild radiant blossom in ten seconds flat.”
  • “I’ve never once thought about the interpretative, the storytelling aspect of life, of my life. I always felt like I was in a story, yes, but not like I was the author of it, or like I had any say in its telling whatsoever. You can tell your story any way you damn well please. It’s your solo.”
  • “As I make my way back to the table, something becomes clear: Life’s a freaking mess. In fact, I’m going to tell Sarah we need to start a new philosophical movement: messessentialism instead of existentialism: For those who revel in the essential mess that is life. Because Gram’s right, there’s not one truth ever, just a whole bunch of stories, all going on at once, in our heads, in our hearts, all getting in the way of each other. It’s all a beautiful calamitous mess.”

One Response to "Review: The Sky is Everywhere"

  • i am 17yrs old and in high school. I freaking love this book. im not typically a book reader. but i laughed and cried when reading this. i have even got really madd at this book. i think most teens now a days should read this. it is sad yet hopeful.

    1 Alyssa Albrecht said this (December 8, 2010 at 7:15 PM)