Overall Impression: A tale of one girls struggle to come to terms with death, to find herself, and to feel happy in her own skin. All told through the medium of a love story.
The reason I decided to buy this book was because it was the only one I had ever come across on Amazon with all five star ratings. Immediately I was curious. I actually ended up buying it for a friend, because it sounded like her kind of book. She soon informed me that it was amazing and that I should read it. So, around three years after the initial command, I’ve finally gotten around to it!
Whats wrong with me?
What kind of 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?
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…
The Sky is Everywhere – it’s a clichéd storyline we’ve all probably encountered at some point over the years. It goes something like this: Girl loses sister. Girl is sad. Girl makes herself feel better by chasing after boys. Girl gets torn between Boy 1 who understands her grief (dead sisters boyfriend) and Boy 2 who makes her feel better.
If that sounds vaguely familiar then you’re probably wondering, why should I bother to read this book? What will I get out of it? Well, for all it’s clichéd plotlines, it’s a quirky novel with enthusiastic writing which makes it an overall very entertaining read.
The aspect of this book that I enjoyed the most was the structure of it. The lead character Lennie when feeling overwhelmed takes out her pen and finds something to scribble on; an abandoned coffee cup, a newspaper, a piece of sheet music, and then drops it in the hope that somewhere, somehow, people will find it and maybe they will understand the pain she is in. Her scribbles are always in the form of poetry, but not the fancy stuff – Nelson doesn’t try to be overly cleaver or complex with her poems; they’re raw and full of feeling and for that reason I really enjoyed them. (People who read this blog regularly will know that I’m not a big fan of poetry, so that’s saying something!) I also felt that it helped to put a more original spin on a worn out story.
As I often do after finishing a book, I decided to investigate it further. Apparently the story began as a constant stream of poetry, but then later developed to prose. I’m glad the author decided to do this because I don’t think it would have been as effective otherwise.
The writing is funny and often made me laugh out loud. Jandy Nelson has a unique and quirky way of stating things that is very refreshing, things that I could never come up with. I’d quite like to live in her brain actually, it seems like it would be a fun place. I think she balances the delicate line between grief and the love story very well. If she wasn’t careful the book could have become too preachy or depressing, and if she had focused too much on the love story it would have become unrealistic so I applaud her for that. The writing has a philosophical feeling to it, but again it is not so evident that you begin to feel weighed down. I did feel in places that the author was trying too hard when attempting to be witty or trying too hard to sound how she thought astereotypical teenager would act, if that makes sense. But thankfully these scenes were few.
I loved the majority of the characterization. They, like her writing, were very quirky and easily loveable. I felt that they were all very thoroughly developed apart from maybe the exception of Sarah, who is sort of cast into the stereotypical blonde cheerleader role standing in the way of the lead characters happiness.
Our lead gal Lennie is a literary lover and is obsessed with the book Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (and quite rightly so, what a great book!) and she’s also passionate about music. Lennie’s best friend is described as a beach blonde type who hides behind gothic clothes and makeup and has an obsession with feminism. Lennie’s Gram spends her free time obsessing over roses and painting enthusiastically entirely in the colour green. Her Uncle Big is the resident Lothario who often wanders around stoned and is convinced he can discover the key to bringing dead bugs back to life.
It was a slight let down though, that the author chose to play the male roles safe, I didn’t get as much individuality off them compared with her other characters and they were very much portrayed as the drop dead gorgeous I’m so perfect types, but that being said, they were utterly charming.
I would recommend this book to females aged 13 to 25 who enjoy lighthearted romance and pondering the meanings of life. It is a YA book so don’t expect in-depth life changing philosophy equivalent to that of Austen or Bronte, but you can look forward to exploring the brain of a confused, grief stricken teenager who is struggling like many of us, to understand her place in life.
I would also recommend The Sky is Everywhere to aspiring writers that are struggling to make their characters seem interesting and unique, because this book is how it should be done! 🙂
l’ll leave you with some cool quotes:
Big’s voice trumpets as if from stage or pulpit; his words carry weight, even pass the salt comes out of his mouth in a thou-shalt-Ten-Commandments kind of way.
“I grin groggily up at him with his enormous handlebar mustache poised over his lips like a grand Declaration of Weird”
“As I walk through the redwood trees, my sneakers sopping up days of rain, I wonder why bereaved people even bother with mourning clothes, when grief itself provides such an unmistakable wardrobe.”
Writing Style: 4/5
Character Development: 4/5
Would I recommend this book? Yes.
Book Cover: http://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/10231501-the-sky-is-everywhere