Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (4/5)

The back says: What’s wrong with me?

What kind of girl wants to kiss every boy at a funeral, wants to maul a guy in the tree after making out with her (dead) sister’s boyfriend the previous night? Speaking of which, what kind of girl makes out with her sister’s boyfriend at all?

Lennie Walker – sisterless, lasagna maker, Heathcliff-obsessed and hopelessly in love…

I say: “Gram is worried about me. It’s not just because my sister Bailey died four weeks ago, or because my mother hasn’t contacted me in sixteen years, or even because suddenly all I think about is sex. She is worried about me because one of my houseplants has spots.”

So starts one of the most piercing and original Young Adult novels I’ve read in years.

And I loved it.

I read a lot of YA (obviously) and it often feels like it’s the same plot that’s being told in different ways, and what I loved about The Sky is Everywhere is that it didn’t follow the pattern. Obviously this deals with grief, but it’s neither the ‘woe is me, I miss my sister’ or the ‘I’m going to rebel and pretend it never happened’ – it’s an emotional journey that feels genuine because there so many stages of grief that Lennie goes through. Maybe I loved this so much because it reminded me of how I felt when I lost someone close to me, and therefore could really relate.

I don’t know and won’t dwell on that.

So, we have Lennie, a seventeen year old girl who is obsessed with Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights (and offers terrible spoilers, thank you not one bit), who loses her sister, and with her, so many other things. Throughout the book she’s trying to deal with her classmates, friends, grandmother and uncle (who she lives with) as well as her attraction to the new kid in school, Joe Fontaine, and the only one she feels can relate to her sorrow; her sister’s boyfriend Toby.

The issue with Toby sounds a lot more unseemly that it was, in my opinion. When I read the blurb at the back of the book my initial instinct was “how on earth could she do that?” However, as I followed Lennie’s thought process it wasn’t that crazy a recourse.

*insert platitude about grief making people do weird things*

I need to put aside a little space to talk about Joe Fontaine and how he is the ultimate guy (if I were a seventeen year old girl, that is). Nelson has managed to create a character that was so lovable, considerate, and just freaking perfect, I was almost totally crushing on him. But then again, I’ve always had a thing for musicians.

One of the things that were so magical about this book was that throughout the book there are little scraps of paper inserted that coincide with what Lennie is feeling. I’m not sure if elaborating would be a spoiler, but she writes parts of conversations, questions and poetry to her sister; and I really loved how the story about them ended.

So much love and still “only” a 4/5?

Yes, because there is something that happens somewhere in the middle that I thought was a little too predictive. I saw it coming and was hoping Nelson wouldn’t turn to that cliché, but she did. Also, the story about the missing mother was weird and anticlimactic. I could have done without either.

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