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The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Originally posted on Sat, Oct 30 2010 at ROPL.org.

All books about loss and grieving are not created equal. Some are moving and heartbreaking, some are beautiful, some are humorous and wonderful, some are harsh and unforgiving, and some are all of the above. Jandy Nelson’s young adult novel, The Sky is Everywhere is one of those rare novels that manages to capture the spectrum of emotions.

A few weeks before the novel begins, Lennie’s older sister Bailey dies. Don’t let the book jacket blurb fool you; this novel isn’t really about band geeks or a quiet girl (though Lennie — full name Lennon, name after John — is both). The Sky is Everywhere is a story about two losses (that of Bailey, and also their very absent mother) and how Lennie, her grandmother (the woman who raised her), her uncle and Bailey’s boyfriend Toby cope with Bailey’s death.

Except that’s still not the whole story. The novel touches all sorts of parts of us – as Lennie grows, as she falls in love and finds herself unable to be happy because she feels guilty – after all, her sister is dead. But what really makes The Sky is Everywhere so truly beautiful and heartbreaking is that Nelson’s not afraid to write about the mistakes people make. The ways they turn their grief into actions, and that those actions have consequences, both good and bad.

All too often in teen novels, actions have no consequences. There are few fights with parents/guardians (or they’re so horrible that there’s no overcoming them), friends fall out with no repercussions (or they pretend it never happened), boys run off with girls (or the other way around) and everyone’s fine with it. The Sky is Everywhere is about all of those mistakes, and more. Every action, no matter how small, has consequences. And what’s created is a world that is our own and is someplace that we can relate to. Grief, like love, turns us into irrational beings and Nelson’s novel captures this in all it’s glory — and horror.

The Sky is Everywhere is beautiful, moving and wonderful, all at once. Even if you’re never lost someone close to you, I highly recommend it. You need not be a teen to enjoy this fantastic novel.

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