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The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
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The Sky Is Everywhere (edition 2010)

by Jandy Nelson

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8089411,287 (4.19)24
Member:callmecayce
Title:The Sky Is Everywhere
Authors:Jandy Nelson
Info:Dial (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:*****
Tags:read 2010, young adult, fiction, library

Work details

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

  1. 01
    Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (kaledrina)
  2. 01
    Sing Me to Sleep by Angela Morrison (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: While this book isn't about grieving, it certainly is about music/singing. The musicians/singers will love this book.
  3. 01
    Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine (weener)
    weener: Want a less overwritten book about grieving for a sibling? Try Broken Soup.
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» See also 24 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
Ok this book contains some of the most beautiful metaphors and writing I have ever read. Although I had trouble connecting to the main character, I really enjoyed immersing myself into this traumatic, deep and soul-sucking story.

We follow Lennie; 16-years-old, introverted, companion pony and recently wracked with grief over the death of her best friend, her sister. We all handle grief in different, sometimes un-characteristic ways and Lennie's just happens to be one of the latter; all she can think of is sexual interactions and kissing the opposite sex and this is exactly what lands her in trouble as if it wasn't hard enough. First she's making out with her dead-sister's boyfriend which is extremely closely followed by eating the face of the new boy in town. She needs to get a grip before she loses the "love of her life" whilst continuing to hold on to the only remaining essences of her sister.

There are a lot of aspects in this book that I would LOVE to delve into and discuss but this post would be super long so I'll try and summarise.
First of all, Jandy Nelson made the right choice with stepping into writing novels from her usual poetry only work. Damn can she write. Every page is full of beauty and it grips you, haunts you, soothes you and move you. It's a sure work of art.
I especially love the extra tidbits; the "found" poems written by the character which begin or follow a new chapter. It makes the story feel so real and binds you with emotion. The situation covered in the book is real enough and everyone can relate, in some way, to each character, at any age.

The characters I loved the most are Grams (because she's so real and I feel so sorry for her time and time again. This is the character that truly breaks my heart) and Big (because he is so awesomely eccentric, even when he's suffering, and always puts a smile on my face). I'm not saying that I hated the other characters, I just didn't really believe in them so much and who doesn't have a crazy uncle?!

The main drawback for me in this was Lennie. I understand that she's going to be in the pit of darkness and despair and make some questionable decisions and maybe act out, but I just don't believe (since the whole story pretty much envelopes you in the idea that her and her sister are so close) that she could be so stupid with Toby. She even said she never understood what her sister saw in him then 5 mins later she's eating his face and continues to do so even when she's supposedly in love. That's the other thing... falling in love after 3 days... I don't buy it... sorry. She comes off (to me) as extremely selfish, immature, self-indulgent and extremely hypocritical so I found it hard to really sympathise with her until maybe the end. The only situation she didn't have any control over was Bailey dying but the rest she brought upon herself. Yes, you can argue that it's the extent of the grief but it just didn't sit right with me. The way she treated other people grated so hard on me and then the way she would cry about it just... eugh.

I did like Toby and I did believe in him making the mistake because he lost a lot more in the sense he lost the future he'd dreamed of and planned for. I believed him and really felt for him but still, I was screaming at him half the time too but I could forgive him more that Lennie.

Joe is great, everyone loves Joe. Falling in love so quickly though? Even after all he's been through... I don't know...

Overall I would give 3 1/2 stars to this book because I was so captivated by the words and imagery, some of the characters and the extra poems but I just wasn't as emotionally crippled as I would expect from a book dealing with such a traumatic and serious theme. ( )
  Amberlouichu | Feb 24, 2015 |
Lennie, 17, lost her older sister four weeks ago, when Bailey died unexpectedly from a heart arrhythmia. The girls were especially close because their mother had abandoned them when Lennie was one, and they were raised by their grandmother and uncle. But their relationship was never equal; Bailey was the lead star, the race horse, and Lennie played the “companion pony,” “the side-kick sister, tucked into a corner of her shadow.” Lennie thought she was happy that way.

Now that a month has passed, it is time for Lennie to return to school. She hasn't been in touch with her friends; she has withdrawn from everyone, communicating only with her dead sister by leaving small notes and poems all around for Bailey perhaps to see from Heaven. But unexpectedly upon returning to school, hormones kick in for Lennie, and they do so with a vengeance. Lennie finds herself dealing with two attractions at once: her sister’s boyfriend Toby, and a new guy in school, Joe, who not only plays music with abandon and passion and courage, but has a personality to match, and a smile as big as the sun.

When Toby and Lennie are together, they feel like she somehow they are getting Bailey back. Lennie reflects:

"Bailey loved both Toby and so much - he and I almost make up her whole heart, and maybe that’s it, what we were trying to do by being together, maybe we were trying to put her heart back together again.”

Then there’s Joe, who makes Lennie feel joy, and like she wants to be alive. But this feels like a betrayal to Bailey:

"I don’t believe time heals. I don’t want it to. If I heal, doesn’t that mean I’ve accepted the world without her?”

Lennie, her family, and Toby, have to learn how to grieve and how to heal, and Joe has to decide if he can accept their choices.

Evaluation: Though the plot sounds like a very ordinary coming-of-age story, in fact this book is extraordinarily well done. It is full of poetry and music, passion and compassion, and endearing episodes of teenage angst and humor. This author is terrific, and the writing is exceptional. It is not a depressing book; rather, it is an exuberantly told story of self-discovery, renewal, and an affirmation of life. ( )
  nbmars | Feb 20, 2015 |
Lennie's older sister Bailey died suddenly at age 19, leaving a grief-stricken younger sister, grandmother, uncle, and boyfriend behind. Unable to cope, Lennie takes to scribbling poems and memories on scraps of paper or trash and burying them around town or in the garden or woods, and she and Bailey's boyfriend Toby turn to each other for comfort. Though she knows it's wrong, Lennie also thinks that Toby is the only other person who understands her grief.

Though Bailey's death was devastating, it has also broken Lennie open to be herself in the world, not just Bailey's shadow. A new boy in school, Joe, falls in love with the new Lennie - crazy sad, musical, beautiful - and Lennie is torn between Toby and Joe.

Set in the same Northern California setting as I'll Give You the Sun, The Sky is Everywhere also shares its offbeat culture, unusual family arrangements, honoring of art and music, and closeness with the natural world. And, of course, there are some pretty top-notch kissing scenes. Ultimately, Lennie faces the question of how to build her own identity, even as she manages (or, sometimes, doesn't manage) her grief.

Quotes

What are we going to do with all this love? (Lennie and Toby, 31)

Grief is a house that disappears / each time someone knocks at the door / or rings the bell (fragment of Lennie's poem, 73)

When I'm with him, / there is someone with me / in my house of grief, / someone who knows / its architecture as I do... (Lennie's poem, 80)

But what if music is what escapes when a heart breaks? (86)

I told him I was looking at the sky. He said, "That's a misconception, Lennie, the sky is everywhere, it begins at your feet." (Uncle Big, 117)

How can the cost of this change in me be so great? It doesn't seem right that anything good should come out of Bailey's death. (144-145)

We can't keep wrapping our arms around a ghost. (148)

I heard this expression once: Each time someone dies, a library burns. I'm watching it burn right to the ground. (152)

How will I survive this missing? How do others do it? (168)

This is our story to tell. ...I've never once thought about the interpretative, the storytelling aspect of life, of my life. I always felt like I was in a story, yes, but not like I was the author of it, or like I had any say in its telling whatsoever. (185)

...missing her, missing the girl I used to be around her, missing who we all used to be. We will never be those people again. She took them all with her. (208)

I try to fend off the oceanic sadness, but I can't. It's such a colossal effort not to be haunted by what's lost, but to be enchanted by what was. (275) ( )
  JennyArch | Jan 5, 2015 |
This book is not for me. I was on board for the first few pages, but I have a hard time getting into story where the main conflict is "do I choose this boy or that boy". I just can't sympathize with any character caught up in a dilemma of riches. Maybe this a thing girls go through, maybe it's a problem they like to read about. But it makes me want to smack them all in the face. Especially in this case, when the drama isn't even that good.

It has been three months since Lennie's sister died. Lennie always lived her life gladly in the shadow of her more exuberant sister, including vicarious romance with Toby, her sister's boyfriend. Now she's insecure about her feelings for Toby and the new hippie kid who just moved in and has "hella good hair" so he wants him to come on over and shake, shake, shake.

The sister thing reminded me a little bit of Frozen, but that's the only part that appealed to me. Like others of its genre, the plot is driven forward by misunderstandings, refusals to listen, misinterpretations, and other petty obstacles that could be solved with thirty seconds of talking.

The style is full of trite teenspeak and quotations way beyond their years (Lennie constantly reads Wuthering Heights -- isn't that about a mentally abusive man who marries his beau's daughter? -- but oh precious she is that she reads something so adult). At one point, it's revealed that the sister was pregnant at the time of her death, but no one raises a hand about how they, as teenagers, expected to raise it, earn money, get a house. Everyone was too entranced by the tragic baby romance.

This is for people who un-ironically enjoy the romances you see in Hannah Montana and The Bachelor. There are essentially no stakes, and the characters are too hippie-dippie to be realistic. ( )
  theWallflower | Nov 24, 2014 |
The Sky is Everywhere is about Lennie Walker, a 17 year old girl who has just lost her sister Bailey. As she deals with her grief, Lennie meets and falls in love with the new boy in school, Joe Fontaine, a fabulous musician who sweeps her off her feet and helps her forget her sorrow. However, her relationship with Joe is complicated by the strange feelings of attraction she has for her (dead) sister's boyfriend Toby.

And so begins my problem with this novel. I just could not buy into the two main points of the plot: 1) that Lennie could fall madly in love with Joe, who she really doesn't know at all, in just a couple of days time and 2) that Lennie would be attracted (and act on her attraction) to her dead sister's boyfriend. I just found these plot points to be extremely annoying, and I really could not enjoy anything else in the novel. I gave it 2 stars only because I did stay interested enough to finish, but just barely.

To expand on those points, I realize that this is a novel written for teenagers. So as a 33 year old, I am definitely not the target audience. So that could be my problem. However, I have read many, many young adult books that I truly loved. Just not this one. The idea of Lennie "thinking" she is in head over heels in love with this boy Joe who she just met is probably realistic for many teenagers. But the romance in the story had no build up; there was no explanation of how the two characters grew to know each other or how their love blossomed. They just met and then suddenly they were in love, except that Lennie kept making out with her sister's boyfriend Toby as well. Enter annoying plot point number two. And I was just continually annoyed as I turned the pages.

Reading other reviews, many people seemed to connect with these characters and this story. So maybe I am missing something in this book. For me, it didn't feel real and I didn't feel a connection to anyone in the story. Perhaps it was well written as many others have said? I was too annoyed by the story to pay much attention to the writing! ( )
  em0451 | Sep 11, 2014 |
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For my mother.
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Gram is worried about me. Its not because my sister Bailey died four weeks ago, or because my mother hasnt contacted me in sixteen years, or even because suddenly all i think about is sex. She is worried about me because one of her houseplants has spots.
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To wake or sleep look
or listen still just me no
goodbye just blue sky

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In the months after her sister dies, seventeen-year-old Lennie falls into a love triangle and discovers the strength to follow her dream of becoming a musician.

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