The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Published by Walker Books in 2015
My copy: Secondhand copy
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…
I ordered a secondhand copy of this book online and was really pleased when I received it to see that the design of the book itself is slightly quirky. It’s a slightly unusual size, and it’s not a paperback but not quite a hardback. The typeface is a dark blue colour and throughout the book are handwritten poems, on the back of which you are told where these were found (ie “Found under a rock by the creek” and so on). I really liked this slightly unusual design, and couldn’t wait to read the novel.
I found the book heartbreakingly sad to begin with. Our narrator is Lennon, and she is reeling from the death of her beloved older sister Bailey. Her death has torn the whole family apart, and there are some small things that really bring the family’s grief home to you, such as the grandmother having frequent showers as she believes the rest of the household won’t be able to hear her crying, and the food that tastes of nothing but ash since Bailey’s death. Our narrator acts oddly and does some seemingly unforgivable things – not least kissing her dead sister’s fiancée – yet we do forgive her as we totally understand why she has done this under the circumstances.
The little poems throughout the book give us a deep insight into Lennon’s grief, which her narrative alone does not, and the fact she leaves these notes lying around are a blatant cry for help as she is so immersed in her own sadness.
Surrounding Lennon is a colourful cast of characters – her larger than life, pot-head uncle Big, her wacky grandmother, and her chameleon-like best friend Sarah who she has neglected following her sister’s death. These characters offer some light relief at times, and also tell us more about Lennon by the ways they interact with her, and she them.
Running alongside the story of a grieving family is a love triangle. Bailey keeps kissing her sister’s fiancee – but is also falling for the new boy at school. For me, this is where the story fell down a bit. There was too much lovey dovey stuff about how gorgeous and dashing both these guys were, and how Lennon couldn’t resist either of them. It didn’t really fit well with the other parts of the story, and also it was so obvious who Lennon was going to end up with that I just couldn’t get interested in this storyline. And as a result I found it a struggle to get to the end of this book. The background of the grieving family was really brilliantly done, but the love triangle just feel flat for me and I’m sad to say that by the end I had pretty much lost interest in the book and was looking forward to it finishing! This was a shame as there was a lot to like about the book, but the romance elements just weren’t for me.
My rating: 6 out of 10