The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Published by Dial, an imprint of Penguin
Seventeen-year-old Lennie’s older sister died, and now all anyone reacts to when they look at her or talk to her is the fact that Bailey is gone. People are awkward around Lennie, they treat her differently, and she doesn’t feel like she has anyone who will ever really understand what she is going through. Not her grandmother, not her uncle, not even Bailey’s fiance, Toby. A new boy in town awakens feeling sin Lennie she didn’t know she was capable of, but will she allow herself to feel joy? Or will her grief be too much to handle?
The Sky is Everywhere is such a beautiful, painful, heartfelt, and realistic story of a girl dealing with the kind of pain that most teenagers can’t imagine experiencing. Lennie is such an honest character and I really fell in love with her. She is feeling all these unfamiliar emotions – Bailey was not only her sister but also her best friend, her closest confidant, the only person in the world who Lennie felt really understood her. When she dies, Lennie is left feeling not only empty, but also scared, lost, completely alone, and like nothing in her life makes sense. She is unwilling to talk to her grandmother and uncle about her pain, and because she keeps it bottled up she becomes almost self-destructive.
Which brings us to Toby, Bailey’s fiance. Lennie ends up turning to Toby to help her through some of her feelings, and they end up starting something, um, inappropriate with one another. Add this to the fact that Lennie is starting a relationship with the new boy in town, Joe, and you have a recipe for disaster. I can’t say I enjoyed the “relationship” (it was really more like fooling around, not an actual relationship) between Lennie and Toby, and I have to admit that it frustrated me quite a bit. Lennie had this awesomely romantic, gorgeous boy falling in love with her (Joe) and she was pretty much ruining it by hooking up with Toby. I suppose it made sense given the fact that Toby was the only person who was closer to Bailey than Lennie was, but still… ugh.
Anyway, the love triangle does eventually sort itself out, and truthfully that aspect of the story is secondary to Lennie’s grieving. There is also a plot line about Lennie’s mother, who ran out on the girls when they were babies (hence them being raised by their grandmother), never to be seen again. Lennie wrestles with a lot of internal stuff trying to figure out if she wants to find her mother, learning from her grandmother what her mother is really like, and that kind of thing. I liked this story a lot and actually would have enjoyed more of it. It didn’t resolve itself like I had anticipated, which was slightly frustrating but also realistic given the other circumstances in the novel.
Overall, The Sky is Everywhere is a compelling, honest, and believable young adult novel about a girl trying to cope in the face of crushing grief. Lennie is an extremely sympathetic character who quickly wins over the reader. The writing is unflinchingly honest and the book itself is a winner for sure.