Thursday, 4 June 2015

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson **Review**

The Sky is Everywhere
Series: None
Pages: 320
Publisher: Walker Books
Release date: 5th February 2015 (this ed)
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones

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Goodreads synopsis:
For fans of John Green, David Levithan and Rainbow Rowell: a beautiful, funny and heartfelt novel about love and forgiveness. 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...

This is another example of when not reading the synopsis of a book before I picked it up to read has really worked in my favour. Every moment of this book was a discovery, I didn't know what would be around the next bend at any moment, and because of that I became so absorbed in its pages that I never wanted to leave. Even if some many of those pages totally broke my heart. Be warned: this is a book that is exceptionally good at tugging on heartstrings!

The first word I would choose to describe The Sky is Everywhere is emotional. From the very beginning, I found myself fully emersed in Lennie's life, and her heartbreak. I couldn't help but empathise with her – how terrible it has to be to lose someone as close to you as a sister! I know I would be devastated if I ever lost my brother, and we are nowhere near as close as Lennie and Bailey were. Add to that an absent mother, and you have a recipe for serious emotional turmoil. It's no wonder then that Lennie soon manages to find herself tangled in one of the most complicated love triangles I have ever witnessed! Usually a love triangle like this would have me routing for one side or the other, but (rather infuriatingly...) on this occasion I liked both boys – just for different reasons.
The complicated option is Toby – Bailey's boyfriend. He took her death just as hard as Lennie did and they find an odd sort of comfort in each other, but things go a little further than either feel they should – but they still don't seem able to stop it.
And then there is the steamy, luminescent new-boy, Joe Fontaine, whose smile could light up half a city. At first I was wary of him – I couldn't decide if he was genuine or not, or if he was one of those boys who would just enjoy the attention for a while and then dump her for someone new. He proved me wrong though, which presented a whole other set of problems – how could Lennie possible choose when sparks were flying from both sides? How could I help her when I liked them both as well? (Yes, I was so involved by this point that I was almost convinced that I had a say in the outcome of these relationships ...)

The writing itself is beautiful and incredibly evocative. I felt as though I had often been transported into the story – and not just because I was so involved with Lennie. The descriptions had me smelling Gram's roses, feeling the texture of Bailey's clothes as Lennie caresses them, hearing the melodious clarinet and trumpet solos, feeling the butterflies provoked by Joe's smile and hearing the rush of the river and smelling the trees. I was there with it all!
And backtracking a little to Lennie's poetry ... I loved that most of the chapters were punctuated by scraps of paper, disposable cups, carved out tree trunks etc that each had a piece of Lennie's heart-felt poetry on them. It gave a very powerful insight into Lennie's state of mind, her worries and beliefs, and also her relationship with her sister.

Most of all, I loved how real this story felt to me. It had me in its grasp all the way through the book and showed no signs of letting go. My only regret is that I don't get to live with those characters past the final page. But I suppose that doesn't really matter – they're all so real that their story can just as easily continue in my own head!

If you've not picked up The Sky is Everywhere yet, and not yet ordered it while reading this review, then I strongly urge you to do so now. It's messy, beautiful and poignant and it will have your emotions bouncing around all over the place. A wonderful story and characters that will stay with me for a long time.


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