Monday 26 October 2015

REVIEW: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Realistic
Release Date: February 5th 2015 (This Edition)
Buy The Book: Amazon - Waterstones

For fans of John Green, David Levithan and Rainbow Rowell: a beautiful, funny and heartfelt novel about love and forgiveness. 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 suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two boys. 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...

My Thoughts:
This book is beautiful to read. Though filled with the utter pain and grief of losing a loved one, The Sky Is Everywhere manages to warm your heart and leave you filled with hope.

Lennie’s sister, Bailey, was her entire world. They were inseparable. After Bailey’s death, Lennie struggled to come to terms with having to carry on without her. That’s when her grief leads her to Toby, Bailey’s boyfriend. The loss of a girl who brought so much joy to their lives leaves them feeling empty, and that emptiness draws them together. Between the two of them, they keep Bailey’s memory alive.

But when Lennie returns to school for the first time since Bailey’s death, she meets Joe. He’s new to town and brimming with life. As Toby pulls her back towards her grief, Joe tries to lead her out of it. Lennie is left torn between keeping the pain of Bailey’s death fresh in her mind, or allowing herself to move on and be happy again. 

As a sister myself, Lennie’s pain really hit home for me. I can’t imagine what it is like to go through the shock and heartbreak of the sudden death of a sibling. What I really loved about this story was that although it focused on Lennie, it showed how a situation like that affects the entire family. Lennie’s grandma and her uncle are fantastic characters, and the book shows them separately dealing with their loss in utterly different ways. 

In her grief, Lennie turns to poetry. She writes on anything that she can get her hands on: spare scraps, sweet wrappers, coffee cups. The poems are included at the start of every chapter and they alone create a powerful story. Lennie writes her memories of herself and Bailey, leaving them around town as a way to immortalise her sister. 

The way the book dealt with Lennie and Toby’s relationship was wonderful. They don’t have feelings for each other, they don’t view each other romantically, but they are pulled together by their grief. It shows how relationships can be altered after a tragedy, and how feelings are often misplaced. The way the story resolved the sudden shift in dynamic between the two of them was touching to read.

I loved the building of the relationship between Joe and Lennie. It’s written beautifully. There are many moments in which Lennie feels guilty for being happy and having feelings for Joe when Bailey can’t do any of those things anymore. But as she the story progresses, she learns that she doesn’t have to feel that guilt. That isn’t what Bailey would want for her. 

This isn’t a book about death. This is a book about life and all it has to offer. Family, friendships, allowing your emotions out into the world, taking chances and being happy. This is a story that makes you want to grab life and savour every moment of it.

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