Oh my word! This book has proven me wrong about the things I (thought) I loved to hate in YA fiction. Things I usually shy away from include but are not limited to: teenagers dying from tragic deaths and the ensuing grief; poetry inserted in the text; love triangles. Well, I must have drank the Coolaid because I loved loved loved The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.
"Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life - and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey's boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie's own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they're the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can't collide without the whole wide world exploding." (Good Reads)
This writing is true-blue real-deal moving writing--the world through Lennie's eyes is an amazing perspective. Nelson has an extraordinary way with words. The way she describes Lennie's grief feels so real and earnest. Usually I am wary of poetry inserted in a book but it feels organic here and so heartbreaking as Len wanders around dropping bits of her story in verse on scraps of paper, wrappers, sheet music, even carved into trees. But the story was remarkably happy as well--I laughed out loud when Gran "took a shine" to Joe and the Fontaine boys (as did I) and had them feng-shui-ing the house!! Charm overload there with the exuberance for life, sunny smiles, and those bat.bat.bat. eye lashes.
Originality: 6. The quirky cast of supporting characters and live triangle isn't new, but I liked these crazy peeps.
Absurdity: 1. There is nothing absurd here that I could find (but being in the band was totally OK in my high school too)
Level of Paranormal Romance: 9. Serious swoon happening here. And I was totally cool with it. (no paranormal, pour a little of your whiskey sour out for all the missing fairies/faeries/vampires).
Level of Harry-Potter-ness: 9. The structure of how the story is told through the poems and Lennie's very honest/funny/sad view of the world stands out. It is rather breathtaking.
Addendum from Goosie Mama: "That book made me cry it was unbearably sweet and so well written!"