Author: Jandy Nelson
Release Date: March 9, 2010
Description: 288 pages, Young Adult Contemporary
Lennie plays second clarinet in the school orchestra and has always happily been second fiddle to her charismatic older sister, Bailey. Then Bailey dies suddenly, and Lennie is left at sea without her anchor. Overcome by emotion, Lennie soon finds herself torn between two boys: Bailey’s boyfriend, Toby, and Joe, the charming and musically gifted new boy in town. While Toby can’t see her without seeing Bailey and Joe sees her only for herself, each offers Lennie something she desperately needs. But ultimately, it’s up to Lennie to find her own way toward what she really needs-without Bailey.
A Beautiful Mess
Call me the ultimate black sheep. Despite countless recommendations, favorable mentions, and songs of utmost praise and accolade, I didn’t find myself enjoying The Sky Is Everywhere from top to bottom. First and foremost, this book was a tale of melancholy and grief, heart ache and longing for loved ones lost, which was good, because I happen to hold in high esteem all the books that can manage to make me laugh, cry, feel something– and admittedly, I almost did both. What stopped me from getting there, however, was the fact that for the most part, Lennie’s character development was horrific, and Lennie herself was excessively vexatious. As a matter of fact, nothing else in this book seemed to have gone wrong for me– the pacing was sonorously up to snuff, the plot itself was climactic, the scenes were impassioned, the conclusion was breathtaking and the love interest was exquisitely angelic– the main character however, who played arguably the largest part in the book, failed me to a compromising degree. Nevertheless, the last few pages reclaimed my once adoration for the story, almost completely, but not quite. And because of the author’s sheer talent in terms of capturing hearts and touching souls through poetry and raw emotion, I decided to give this book a chance in my warring heart and decide that it wasn’t half-bad, either.
Love In Poetry
As aforementioned, Lennie was annoying to the point of my utter exasperation– she was completely ruining my mojo. She kept on doing mindless, imbecilic things regrettable in the long run, and didn’t even think for the most part that she deserved happiness and euphoria subsequential to her sister’s untimely death. What exactly was she expecting? An endless procession of mourners? The earth ceasing to spin around its own axis? Oh, please. It was pathetic. At some point, however, I felt like I was judging her too gratingly, because I did have next to no idea how it must have felt like to lose a sibling (and I will go bananas if anything bad happens to mine). Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but think that she could have at least tried to pursue happiness for herself, the way Bailey would’ve wanted, without anyone have to force feed her the goddamned idea, or at least without her feeling so utterly conscience-stricken (because guuurl, a certain Joe Fontaine fawning over you is not, repeat NOT to be taken for granted). Instead, she kept on tormenting herself and hurting the people around her, almost as if she were a walking, talking, whiplash of infernal grief and self-destruction. Despite this, I tried looking for a source of redemption– and I did find it, in the fact that she at least tried to steer herself in the right direction, and whether or not she managed to make up for her mistakes (read to find out!), I could have been content with the fact that she knew her actions were fallacious and didn’t just sit there regretting her own stupidity. And in terms of refusing to accept joy and love into her life, I think by the end of it, I began to understand the true extent of her loss, which could have been enough for an emotional breakdown. That being said, three freaking cheers for the compromise.
Towards The Crescendo
The romance in this book was staggering, although I didn’t come to recognize the beauty of it until things started to go downhill, and fast. Lennie’s stints with Bailey’s boyfriend, Toby, weren’t in the least romantic the way I saw it– they were pity parties, and they were wrong. However, I didn’t pin the blame on either one of them entirely, because after all, there was the matter of Bailey’s death to deal with, and I endeavored to cope with the fact that neither was entirely stable. Joe on the other hand, was utterly delectable, a musical genius, a gentle soul, and the perfect eye candy. Despite the fact that Lennie seemed to treat his feelings like trash at times, I did think that their relationship’s development was impeccable in its graduation and solidity, and the build up to their resolution was probably the best thing in the book next to the fact that Joe’s character made up for most of Lennie’s mistakes– and then some. What would the world be without some Fontaine spawn, eh? Thank god for French kids with guitars and good looks.
The Music Of The Night
Although I did spend most of the book wanting to slap John Lennon silly (the character, not the namesake) I was happy enough for what went down during the last few pages, even it seemed as if the book was beyond help. The poems on the random scraps of paper (or any solid surface really), were eloquent and meaningful, capturing the essence of pain and desolation. Only when I read them did I truly feel as if Len were a living, breathing person, who had to adjust to a sisterless life and couldn’t do it without taking the road less traveled (a.k.a. the stumbling path). I think I could have enjoyed this book twice as much if I didn’t stand by my firm belief in fortitude and in moving on, but I did, and notwithstanding the fact that the book didn’t live up to its full potential in my eyes, I was happy enough to note that it was loved by many.
Thence, if you can tolerate self-inflicted damage and are into books that feature family relationships, tragedy, and a struggle for peace of mind and a much deserved happy ending, hesitate not to pick this book up as I’m quite sure you’ll like it.
So what do you think of this book? If you haven’t read it, will you? Sound off in the comments below!