Jandy Nelson’s debut novel, The Sky Is Everywhere, is a book to be savored. I found myself not wanting to turn the page because I wanted to revel in the beauty on each page. Jandy Nelson is an author to watch and I would be shocked if The Sky Is Everywhere isn’t nominated for the Morris Award this year.
Lennie (short for Lennon) is floating in a sea of loss after her older sister, Bailey, suddenly dies. Lennie has always been the companion pony to her sister’s racehorse and doesn’t know how to move on without her. Her upbringing has been a little unconventional- mom abandoned Lennie and Bailey when they were kids and they have been raised by an eccentric grandmother and pot-smoking uncle. But with vivacious Bailey gone, the family is struggling. Toby, Bailey’s boyfriend, has been coming around more often and he seems to be the only one who really understands what Lennie is going through. But when she starts getting a little too close to him, she freezes. And then there is the new boy in town, Joe Fontaine. Joe is smitten with Lennie and forces her out of the shadows.
The premise may seem quaint- sister loses sibling, is forced out of the shadows, learns to love herself- the writing is anything but. One way Lennie deals with her grief is by writing snippets of poetry on scraps of paper and leaving them all over town. These poems are spread throughout the book and give insight into Lennie that no prose could do. And the prose itself is stunning. Nelson has taken a book about grief and made it so much more- the heartache is real and so is the joy. I can’t wait to see what Nelson does next.
I would recommend The Sky Is Everywhere highly to fans of Sarah Dessen, but also to those who love words and writing. This is a stunning debut novel and the writing will hook even the most reluctant readers.
*ARC courtesy of the publisher