Sunday, 18 December 2011

Review of the Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

A book to fall into

The Sky is Everywhere is Jandy Nelson's debut novel and came out 2010 and is published by Walker Books. It is a beautifully written book that deals with the desperation of grief intertwined with the intensity of first love without a vampire or black cover in sight.

The main character is Lennie, a 17 year old who plays the clarinet and is in the school band. She writes poetry and has read Wuthering Heights 23 times - some would say a geek. Instead you find a fully rounded character who no longer knows who she is. You meet Lennie as she is dealing with the sudden death of her 19 year old sister, Bailey. Lennie sees herself as the pony companion to her race horse sister so is left floundering by her absence. If you then add to this boys, which until this point she had had no interest in, you suddenly have a tumultuous story. The blurb on the back says: 'What's wrong with me? What kind of a girl wants to kiss every boy at a funeral, wants to maul a guy in a tree after making out with her (dead) sister's boyfriend the previous night?' Lennie is confused and torn. She deals with her emotions by writing poems on the nearest surface available and leaving them all over the place. The reader joins her on her journey where she finds that the sky is everywhere. Lennie lives with her grandmother, Gram and uncle, Big, as her mother left to explore the world when the girls were very small. They are larger than life characters and at times the grief of all three of them is almost palpable. As a reader you feel like you could be intruding. But don't get me wrong it is not a sad book, it is one of raw emotion.

Toby (Bailey's boyfriend) and Joe (the new boy in school who just happens to be gorgeous!) are the male interests and could potentially be perceived as being rather predictable characters but the writing lifts them way beyond any predictability. The writing  is poignant, crazy, challenging and powerful. The narrative is littered with references to Simone De Beauvoir, Hélène Cixous, Jean-Paul Satre, Mozart, Bach, clarinets, mandolins and guitairs. But there is nothing geeky about this book. It is just full of some wonderful phrases and ideas as you move through Lennie's grief and her first experiences of love - that Heathcliff and Cathy/Lady Chatterley and Oliver Mellors/Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy moment. Well worth a read.

Like with grief sometimes it is just too hard to let go of many things.


  1. Have just finished The Sky Is Everywhere, and I loved it - your review is spot on! I found Lennie's voice really sang, and I loved how much bigger than life Gram and Uncle Big where. The characterisation for all the characters, even the deceased Bailey, was superb.

  2. Am glad you enjoyed it as much as did Nicky. The characters were wonderful. A great book to fall into