The Sky is Everywhere is Jandy Nelson’s debut novel. It is FANTASTIC.
17 year old Lennon (Lennie) is trying to come to terms with the unexpected death of her older sister, Bailey. In typical teenage, and human, fashion, she is self-absorbed and oblivious to her surroundings as she deals with her loss. Understandably so!
Enter Toby, Bailey’s boyfriend/fiance. As the only other person who seems to understand Lennie’s loss, he becomes a shoulder to cry on, and they lean on each other for support. Of course, feelings become confused.
Enter Joe. The new boy. Beautiful, smart, funny, gifted musician. And he likes Lennie. A LOT. And she likes him. But is that ok, when your sister is dead?
Lennie explores her feelings through poetry, verse she composes on bits of paper and ephemera she finds on her wanderings, empty coffee cups, tree branches, fence posts. Her words are left for the wind and rain and soil to find.
Lennon and Joe are real. They feel and love and hurt so much more than you or I do – they are teenagers in love. No one has ever been in love before they discovered it. Amazing. When Joe tells Lennon it is over, I was straight back to my 16 year old self: flattened, devastated, DONE, because my boyfriend told me he had met someone else. (You might need a tissue or four… I did.)
The scenes with her best friend, Sarah, and her grandmother, with whom she lives, are also authentic. Sarah’s “free pass” for Lennie’s bad behaviour and Gram’s eventual anger that Lennie forgets other people miss Bailey too are frighteningly real. Lennie is trying to find herself in this new world of hers, and she makes choices both bad and good on her road of discovery. Nelson has a great voice for her characters.
It is one of the best things about YA fiction; the chance to relive those intense feelings that you KNEW no one else had ever felt or would ever understand. But with the experience and knowledge to know that you will survive it. And a glass of wine.
Teens of all ages will love this book, as will those of us who want to relive the joy and heartbreak of first love. It is romantic and lovely, heartbreaking and laugh out loud hysterical, and completely appropriate for all ages.
The Sky is Everywhere is published by Speak.