Lennie, a 17-year-old bookworm and band geek, has always walked, safe and happy, in the shadow of her dynamic older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies suddenly, Lennie is left to cope with life in this intense debut novel The Sky is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson.
Even through her grief, Lennie, who’s barely had a boyfriend before, finds herself drawn toward two completely different guys. The first is Bailey’s boyfriend, who is also suffering from the loss. Lennie and Toby both recognize that their relationship is wrong, but can’t seem to stop themselves. And then there’s Joe, the new kid in school, who just moved here from Paris and who helps Lennie forget her pain with his beautiful smile and musical talent. Music plays a major part in the story, bringing them together with Joe even nicknaming her John Lennon. Meanwhile, Lennie is eaten up with guilt over hooking up with Toby. Wearing her dead sister’s clothes and dating her boyfriend seems to keep Bailey alive. Only with each other can they share their true feelings of sadness.
Throughout the novel, Lennie writes poems on anything and everything – gum wrappers, plastic to-go cups, crumpled newspapers, a wooden park bench – and leaves them scattered around town. The action reveals Lennie’s and her sister’s extremely close relationship. But when Lennie discovers that Bailey was keeping secrets she begins to understand that her sister wasn’t exactly who she thought she was and that there may have been more rivalry between them than she realized.
The Sky is Everywhere
is saturated with grief – the death of a loved one, a mother’s abandonment, but Nelson lightens the mood with humor. Reading this heartbreaking, hilarious novel, you’ll cry your eyes out and laugh through your tears.