Monday, June 14, 2010

Book Review: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Lennie’s older sister Bailey was everything to her, so when she dies suddenly, Lennie is set adrift her powerful grief. Only Bailey’s boyfriend Toby seems to understand what she’s going through, and when Lennie’s with him, she feels Bailey’s presence most. But then there’s new boy Joe, who brings with him sunlight, sky, and joy – all things Lennie thinks are lost to her. Or are they?

I’ll be honest, despite all the glowing reviews I’ve seen around, I was wary. I really did not feel like reading another "teen dealing with death of relative" novel. Been there, done that…you know? And the first ...oh…35 pages…were fine, but not really exciting me on any level. Then page 36 happened. And my eyes got huge and I thought – ok then…I don’t think this is going to be like every other book out there.

It’s not. It’s so raw, so honest, and it’s not afraid to expose dark moments of the soul and to push them out into the light for incredibly close (and sometimes uncomfortable) examination. Lennie is devastated, not just by her sister’s death, but also by the realization that with her sister gone, she is finally able to come into her own – to sprout wings and fly. And if that’s not enough survivor’s guilt to carry around, Lennie also makes some questionable choices on the Toby front to satisfy certain primal urges that jeopardize not only her sanity, but also her mad-passionate/sweetly dorky relationship with Joe – owner of the best eyelashes in YA fiction. If you don’t swoon when he bats those puppies, you are dead inside, my friend.

It’s been awhile since I was so swept up in a story that I ignored the clock and read well past my bedtime, feverishly underlining passages. It brought me back to when I was 19…getting the phone call that my mom had passed away…and then feeling guilty for enjoying all the sympathy hugs I was getting from the hot guys on campus (yes – I finally admit to this…sad, but true). Let’s just say I completely understood where Lennie was coming from when she asks, “What kind of girl wants to kiss every boy at funeral, wants to maul a guy in a tree after making out with her (dead) sister’s boyfriend the previous night?” Not that I have a sister. But I think you get the point.

Anyway, there’s so much more to love here. To support (and counterpoint) Lennie’s emotionally charged character arc, we get a range of characters – the kooky grandmother, the most original pot smoking uncle ever, the winsome (and neglected) best friend – all who have their own issues to work through, but are also always ready for a good healing laugh.

THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE is out in hardcover. Find out more about it at the author’s website (where you can also see the book trailers). PS - I have the UK edition and it looks like this:



35 comments:

Amanda said...

Thanks for the review. I've been wondering about this book.

Carla said...

Thanks so much for the thoughtful review, even though it made me cry. I agree on all counts, when I first started reading this one, I actually put it down and read something different. It didn't really suck me in so to speak, and then when I picked it back up, there was something about it that kept me reading. I loved how kooky and strange each character was in their own little way. i loved how much Bailey was as much of a character as Lennie. I loved the rain kisses and the "bat bat bat" of wonder boys eyelashes. I am so so pleased that you enjoyed this one, and I agree, it deals with death in such a way that i've never read about before. fabulous review, as always.

Lenore said...

Carla - I can't believe I forgot to write about the kissing in the rain scene!! As I tweeted - every book should have a kissing in the rain scene!

Allison said...

Love your review! This was definitely my favorite book so far in 2010.

When I sat down to read it, I thought "eh, this looks okay." I had about an hour before I was supposed to go meet some friends for dinner. I ended up calling them to cancel. I did not MOVE from my chair until I'd read the whole thing.

Sooo so good.

Bookalicious Ramblings said...

Oh yes, I absolutely agree with everything you've written! I really didn't expect I'd be *that* blown away by this book, but it's hands down the best novel I've read in 2010.

Sandy Shin said...

Lately, I've read several great and poignant and wonderful reviews of this book. The summary doesn't sound like the kind of books I usually read, but I will definitely be giving this a chance, because it sounds really, really amazing.

And also: kissing in the rain! My favorite kind of kiss ever. :)

Shooting Stars Mag said...

wow, intense. I guess I need to move this higher on my list of books to read. It sounds amazing. thanks for sharing how you personally related as well, Lenore.

-lauren

Meg said...

Sounds really great and you had me at the mention of the eyelashes, but I'm worried this one would rip my heart out! I can't deal with sisters dying. It's just... gah. Painful to think about.

Steph Su said...

What in the world happens on page 36? Now I HAVE to read this soon to find out.

Hannah S said...

I also loved this!
What made it so unique, I think, were those small excerpts of Lennie's life before Bailey's death. I loved that!
Thanks for the review, Lenore!
Love, Hannah

celi.a said...

Thanks for the review. I was very iffy on this title, but I've now seen it reviewed (and loved) by some bloggers I admire very much (including you!), so I'm giving it a try. Maybe even this week...if I can find the time!

Nymeth said...

Fabulous review, Lenore. How can I resist it after this? And like Steph Su, now I'm dying to find out about page 36.

Angiegirl said...

Awwww. I knew you'd like this one! Your review made me smile in a very big way.

Owner of the best eyelashes in YA, indeed. hehe.

Miss K said...

I love the UK cover. I'll look for this when I am back in the states.

poshdeluxe @Forever Young Adult said...

i was totally wary of this book as well, what with the death and the POETRY. but like you, i'm so so so glad i read it! abso gorgeous!!!

i'm so glad nelson's writing resonated with yr own experiences with grief and loss. this book felt so honest, so compelling that i think about it months later and still want to give lennie a huge hug (unfortunately for her, i'm not a hot dude).

Milli said...

I've never heard of a bad review for this book! Gotta get it! Oh, and thanks for such thoughtful reviews. You seem to put a lot of effort into them:D

The Library Lurker said...

I loved loved loved this book, and I'm glad that you did too! Wonderful review!

Nomes said...

This is such a great review. I have ordered a copy and it's jetting to me from the UK right now! Can't wait until it arrives :)

I wasn;t going too, as I've read a few grief YA stuff lately, but it's had such outstanding reviews, i couldn't help myself...

And I <3 the UK paperback!

cynthial11 said...

I've had this one on my list for a while, I really need to move it to the top. Sounds really good, love your review!!

Chachic said...

I have a copy of this but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet. Your review reminded me that I should get to it soon.

reviewsbylola said...

After reading your review and some of the comments following it, I am persuaded to read this one!

Staci said...

Sounds like a fantastic read. I loved your thoughts on this one and you've convinced me to read it!

Audrey said...

Love, love, loved this book and have bought it for genuine YAs and not at all Y As alike.

The character and story are compelling enough, but OH, the WRITING!

Did I say I loved it?

Jessica said...

I don't even really have the words to explain how much I loved this book.

Liviania said...

Huh, I put this one at the bottom of my pile because it looked really lame. But I'll have to move it up now.

Alison said...

Great review! Thanks for telling us that it's more than your typical dead relative book. I'm really excited about this book.

B.A.M. Book Reviews said...

Awesome review :) I've wanted to read this before and your review just made me want to read it even more!

-Briana

Zibilee said...

Awesome review, Lenore!! I admit to never having heard of this book, but now I am chomping at the bit to get the chance to read it. It sounds like the kind of read I could really sink deeply into. So glad that you loved it. I will be looking for it!

Tahereh said...

i LOVED this book. LOVED LOVED LOVED. so happy you did, too!

Jackie Noel said...

This looks like a wonderful read! Thanks for the review! :)

Darlene said...

This certainly sounds like an intense but really good book. Great review as usual Lenore.

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I love it when books are real like this, and when people admit that they are real like this. Thanks Lenore! I will definitely be on the lookout and picking this one up at some point.

Erica said...

I really liked this one a lot - I found it a bit weird with Lennie and Toby but otherwise I loved every page.

Michelle said...

I truly loved this book, it was phenomenally written and so emotional to read. It will definitely make my list of best books in 2010. I'm glad it lived up to all the hype for you.

Sverige said...

I would tell anyone to read this book. It has feeling of lust, love and loath in it. Very well written and it keeps you turning the page to figure what happens in the end. Amazing read!!