I have a deep, deep devotion to my favorite book, Looking for Alaska. It has been my answer to the “what’s your favorite book” question for about four years, and I attribute a good chunk of my desire to work in children’s books and YA Lit to it. So when I say that The Sky is Everywhere may be as good as Alaska, it’s kind of a big deal.

Speed Read:

     And then we are wrestling and laughing and it’s many, many minutes before I remember that my sister has died.

Lennie’s sister has died, and she doesn’t know how to grieve. Her grandmother seems to have gone a little crazy and her uncle spends his days smoking a lot of weed and her best friend doesn’t seem to be on the same plane anymore. Lennie deals by wearing her sister’s clothing and hanging out with her sister’s boyfriend, as if the things she left behind can bring her back. When she meets Joe Fontaine, seemingly the happiest person in the world, she starts to realize that life really will go on without Bailey. All she has to do is make the choice.

The Deal:

The Sky is Everywhere could have easily fallen into a melodramatic, weepy trance about two words into the first chapter. It’s about a little sister who loses the light of her life and anchor, and is left to figure out grief, love, and life on her own. It’s even hard to summarize this book without feeling a little cheesy.

But that’s what’s so incredible. Jandy Nelson took this difficult topic and turned it into a work of art. It’s a pretty typical teenage story – girl must choose between two guys – but the added emotion from her sister’s death amps everything up to high volume, and believably so. For once, a character who’s self-esteem is low in believable ways. Also,  I’m in love with the writing and I love Lennie’s voice:

Before he finally hops on his board, he hugs me good-bye and we hold on to each other so tightly under the sad, starless sky that for a moment I feel as if our heartbreak were one instead of two.

and

He can’t stop smiling at his brothers, who are pounding their guitars into notes so ferocious they could probably overthrow the government.

and

I want to hurl a building at God.

Ok, ok, I’ll stop. But you see? Sigh. The best.

How Far Should You Go:

So someone has built a fortress out of tiny legos. Millions and trillions of tiny legos and in the middle of the fortress is this book. The only way to read it is to pry apart each of the tiny legos and tunnel to the center, taking the time to wedge your fingernails in between each teeny brick and make a hole until you find it in the center. And they give you a choice. Do it, or never get to read The Sky is Everywhere. You should do it.

The 13/16 Test:

Fine and fine. There is some sexy talk in the book, but it’s nothing Thirteen doesn’t already know about, and it’s all based on mature relationships and all that jazz.

The Low Down:

The Sky is Everywhere
Author: Jandy Nelson
Publisher: Speak (Penguin)
Published: March 22nd, 2011
Classified as: Young Adult

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