Jandy Nelson has appeared on lists of top (young adult) contemporary novels for as long as I’ve enjoyed the genre. I even had The Sky is Everywhere on my Kindle (sadly unread for no particular reason!) for a few years before Walker Books sent me an unexpected review copy of the new cover edition (left). It is being published again to match her latest, I’ll Give You the Sun, and so it was the perfect excuse to pick it up!
I adore heartbreaking contemporary novels and The Sky is Everywhere turned out to be the perfect novel for me. It was my first book of the year; I hadn’t yet gone back to work (hooray for the Christmas break!), so I took the opportunity to curl up in bed with it for hours, going on a turbulent emotional journey with Lennie.
I wasn’t entirely sure I’d be able to relate to Lennie since I do not have any brothers or sisters. I’ve always felt like sibling relationships must feel very different to other kinds of relationships, and I can’t quite imagine it. But even though I don’t know what it’s like to have a sister who has died, I was captivated by The Sky is Everywhere.
Jandy Nelson is an incredible writer. She writes so beautifully and honestly that even though I usually do not read poetry, I adored the way Lennie expressed herself through her poems. She scatters them around, leaving traces of herself in the world. She’s seventeen-years-old and still growing up, and now she has to learn how to do it without her older sister, Bailey, being there to support her. Her world shatters and we can tell how broken Lennie is by the decisions she makes. Usually safe and careful, Lennie is catapulted into a world where she is suddenly unable to see clearly.
Lennie doesn’t quite know how to live without Bailey (“my sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life”) and so she becomes emotionally reliant on two boys – one who makes her forget and one who helps her recover. I didn’t find it difficult to see why Bailey did the things she did, even though the reader may feel like they’re huge, obvious mistakes. It’s easy for people to judge but it’s difficult to stop being destructive, even if it means damaging relationships with close friends and family. The Sky is Everywhere tackles this kind of grief in a way I haven’t seen before – it makes you feel like you’re going through it too. And that’s the mark of a wonderful book.
I waited too long to read The Sky is Everywhere – pick it up now, if you can.
(I’ve also reviewed I’ll Give You the Sun!).
Published: 8th March 2010 (this edition 5th February 2015)
Publisher: Walker Books (UK) Speak (US)
Source: Thank you to the publisher for providing this book for review!