Book review: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

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Seventeen-year-old Lennie is floundering.  Her big sister, Bailey, unexpectedly and tragically died at only nineteen years old.  Bailey was her best friend. Her rock.  The one constant in her life.  And now she’s gone.  And Lennie is just sort of floating through life, just barely getting from one day to the next.  She can’t make peace with the fact that Bailey’s gone because that would mean accepting that it really happened.

Then she meets Joe Fontaine, the new boy in town, a musical genius, and her life gets brighter.  Joe inserts himself into Lennie’s family so effortlessly that it’s like he’s always been there.  Lennie falls hard and fast for Joe, and he’s not far behind her.

But Lennie also has unexpected feelings for Bailey’s boyfriend.  Feelings that she never experienced while Bailey was alive.  When she’s with Toby, it feels like he understands her grief.  Like maybe part of Bailey is still alive.  Lennie knows that it’s wrong, but she can’t stay away.

Writing this review, guys. 😓 I feel like I’m going to get excommunicated from the book blogosphere or something.  Everybody loves this book.  And I just… didn’t.  I really didn’t.  It’s not like I hated it or anything. I just didn’t connect with any of the characters or feel really very much of anything aside from vague discomfort as I read it.

I think this is partially a case of – like usual – my expectations being too high given all of the rave reviews I’ve read.  This book was hyped to the point that nothing, no matter how amazing, could possibly live up to my expectations.  But it’s also partially due to the fact that I don’t really understand what the point of this book was.

It’s beautifully written, for sure.  It’s just not really about all that much.  I suppose that it was supposed to be a story about life, love, grief, forgiveness, moving on, etcetera… but I didn’t see it.  Lennie was kind of an awful person.  And I know, I know, her sister just died.  We’re supposed to feel bad for her.  And I do.  But she just hides behind her mask of literary snobbery and dead sister passes as she does incredibly selfish things.  In no world is being a selfish idiot okay just because you’ve read Wuthering Heights like 97 times.

And then the love triangle.  Honestly, I’m so over love triangles.  I’m particularly over love triangles that involve cheating.  I’m even more over love triangles that involve your dead sister’s boyfriend.  This might not have been so terrible if Lennie were not dating the sweetest boy on the planet.  But she was.  And the only person who really calls Lennie out on her awful behavior is her friend Sarah.  And, at least to me, it’s written to sound like Sarah is wrong to tell Lennie that she can’t go around making out with her dead sister’s boyfriend!  I got so many gross vibes while those two were getting together, and maybe I was supposed to, I don’t know.

I feel like this book glamorized loss by showing it as a free pass to do whatever you want regardless of the consequences.  When Joe is like, “Nope, I’m not dating somebody who goes around kissing other boys behind my back,” he’s the villain.  Because he should just understand what Lennie is going through.  NO.  Life does not work like that.  Actions have consequences, regardless of whatever emotional turmoil you’re currently experiencing.

The book’s saving grace is its writing, which is actually quite good.  It’s just too bad that the content didn’t match.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆ (which is really more of a 2.5)

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