Friday, July 31, 2015

"The Sky is Everywhere": Fall in Love With Jandy Nelson's Ability to Capture First Love

"Years ago, I crashed in Gram's garden and Big asked me what I was doing.  I told him I was looking up at the sky.  He said, 'That's a misconception, Lennie, the sky is everywhere, it begins at your feet." 

I love when I finish a book and I can't stop smiling.

Or thinking about it.

Or  I'm awestruck of the author who created such lovely sentences and such lovely characters who are passionate, intricate, and people who I'd like to know.

I feel lucky that I've now read both of Jandy Nelson's YA books.  I'll Give You The Sun was a miracle, and now that I've read The Sky is Everywhere, I realize that Jandy Nelson is even more gifted and amazing than I thought.

Although I read "The Sky is Everywhere" in huge helpings and raced to the end, I didn't really want it to end because that means that Lennie with her beautiful hair and Joe Fontaine with his beautiful eyelashes would no longer be a big part of my day.  I wouldn't get the chance to feel their love story unfold.

The novel tells the story of 17 year old Lennie Walker whose sister, Bailey, died suddenly and Lennie who always allowed her sister to overshadow her suddenly realizes she needs to be her own person and doesn't really know who she is.  She starts to lust after boys, and begins to really question why her mother hasn't contacted her in 16 years, and she alienates the people who matter to her most.

And then she meets the new boy in band, Joe Fontaine, who just happens to be a music prodigy, highly romantic, and from Paris.


Even more, he really seems to get her, he helps her to tap into her musical genius, and he's okay with the fact that her family is kind of crazy.

BUT . . . Lennie has a slight issue.  Her sister's boyfriend, Toby keeps showing up to find comfort from his loss.  His grief over Bailey's death equals her own and when they get together it's like they are trying to piece Bailey back together by their electric grief. Although Lennie knows that it's wrong to kiss Toby and put her hands all over him, something about his presence comforts her.  He's the only one who understands how much she misses her sister and the only one who understands how hard it is to live in a world without Bailey.

From the poems that Lennie leaves pretty much everywhere she goes to write her story into the air, to Gram's seductive roses, to Big's affinity to marry every woman in town, to Joe Fontaine's beautiful older brothers, to the way Lennie has read Wuthering Heights 23 times, Jandy Nelson created quirky but believable characters.  These are the kinds of people we wish we could be - talented, gorgeously creative, beautiful, deeply expressive, unapologetically passionate,  but most of all they are believable.

I believed the love story between Joe and Lennie.

I believed the shared grief between Lennie and Toby.

I believed Gram's eccentricities and her obsession with painting green women.

Everything about this YA book works and it was lovely to read and be sucked into the storyline for a few days.  I only hope that Jandy Nelson hurries up and writes another magical creation soon.

I'm ready for more.

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