Friday, December 9, 2011

Book Review: The Sky is Everywhere

The Sky is Everywhere
(Audiobook)
Narrated By: Julia Whelan
Published By: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: March 2010
Length: 7 hours, 14 minutes
Buy it at Amazon or IndieBound
Source: Library
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary, Dealing with Death & Grief

On the Writing & Story:

I have had this book on my TBR list for awhile, but kept choosing other books over it to actually read. I'm not sure why I put it off so long, however a few weeks ago I was adding books to my audiobook hold list at the library and this title caught my eye again. The cover just seems so blah, but I figured I could snag the audiobook and if I didn't like it - no biggie - I could just stop listening and return it. Please don't be an idiot like me and judge this book by its simplistic cover. This is one of the most poignant and beautifully written novels that I have spent time with this year. One of my favorite lines that is still lingering in my thoughts is Lennie's remark that a library burns when someone dies. This notion is one that I can't seem to shake from my brain; it is so true. It really made me think of all the stories and thoughts that are lost each time someone draws their final breath.

The Sky is Everywhere is not an easy read due to its subject matter and it might be a good idea to have some tissues handy. Lennie, a 17 year old band geek, is dealing with the sudden death of her sister, Bailey. Bailey and Lennie were far closer than most sisters which makes Bailey's passing even more difficult for Lennie. To make matters worse, Lennie is not only mourning her sister, but she's also experiencing the first pangs of love and lust. She finds herself forming an attachment to Toby, her sister's boyfriend, in the days after Bailey is laid to rest. Toby seems to be the one person who understands Lennie's pain. However, once Lennie returns to school and meets the new boy, Joe, things get a bit more tricky. Lennie must learn to balance grief and love, but which boy will help her find the light at the end of the tunnel?

One of the ways Lennie deals with her grief is by writing poetry. She leaves poems on scraps of paper all over town - scattering her thoughts and pain to the wind. I thought the idea of this was so sad and yet so freeing. Lennie is sharing her life with the world in an anonymous way, but at least she is trying to express what she's thinking and feeling. I found myself wishing that she had been able to talk to her grandmother or uncle as easily as she was able to send her thoughts floating away on the bits of paper.

One of my favorite things about this book was the relationships - both good and bad. Jandy Nelson did such an amazing job of shining a light onto this family's grief and how it effected their ties to each other. I almost felt bad listening at times. It felt like I was intruding on moments that were too private for me as an outside observer. The emotions of the characters were so raw and real to me. I felt their joys and sorrows right alongside of them. I also enjoyed watching Lennie as she navigated the paths that led her to Toby and Joe.

On the Audio:

I really enjoyed Julia Whelan's narration. She was able to bring these characters to life for me and keep me invested in the story. It is really easy for me to zone out when I am listening to audiobooks during my long commute, but this one wasn't a challenge at all. I found myself clinging to every syllable and rooting for Lennie to get her happy ending after so much sadness. Whelan did a beautiful job of infusing the right amount of grief into Lennie while still making her sound like a normal teen with normal issues like boys and homework.


One Last Gripe: I will never understand the choice that Lennie's mother made.

My Favorite Things About This Book: Lennie's poetry and the quirky characters

First Sentence: Gram is worried about me.

Favorite Character: Gram

Least Favorite Character: Paige



Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and 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 center stage of her own life - and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey's boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie's own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they're the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can't collide without the whole wide world exploding.

This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie's struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.





2 comments:

  1. She's trying to find her way without her sister to lead the way. Their relationship also had an effect on Lennie's musical aspirations. Lennie gave up her dream of going to Juilliard because Bailey, an aspiring actress, didn't get accepted to that prestigious school. As you can see, Bailey had a very important impact on Lennie's life.

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    Replies
    1. I totally agree with your analysis. It was really hard for me to read about how close these two were and how much Bailey's passing effected the entire family.

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