Monday, July 5, 2010

The Sky is Everywhere

Jandy Nelson's The Sky is Everywhere is a YA book that got quite a bit of buzz this spring. After reading it, I can see why. Jandy Nelson has provided a well written, perhaps even cleverly written, novel dealing with the serious topic of grief.

Lennie's sister Bailey has just died unexpectedly of an undiagnosed heart condition. The two girls had grown up with their Grandmother and uncle Big, always motherless. From an early age they had been told by their Gram that their mother was an explorer, someone who enjoyed going with the wind, but that someday she would come back. Their fathers were also unknown to them, men their mother encountered on her adventures. Because of this Lennie and Bailey have an incredible bond, and promise to always be there for each other. Until Bailey dies. The Sky is Everywhere is Lennie's story of coping with her loss. There are other things that happen in Lennie's life after Bailey's death. Lennie falling in love with the new boy, Joe, being the biggest thing that has happened to her in her life that she is unable to share with her sister. And always Lennie is grieving, writing down notes and feelings for Bailey on scraps of paper tucked away, placed around town. Despite her newfound love, Lennie's grief is everpresent, and there were several passages I marked that really resonated with me:

"How will I survive the missing? How do others do it? People die all the time. Every day. Every hour. There are families all over the world staring at beds that are no longer slept in, shoes that are no longer worn. Families that no longer have to buya particular cereal, a kind of shampoo. There are people everywhere standing in line at the movies, buying curtains, walking dogs, while inside, their hearts are ripping to shreds. For years. For their whole lives. I don't believe time heals. I don't want it to. If I heal, doesn't that mean that I've accepted the world without her (168)?"

"With each day that passes, there are longer stretches when I don't think I hear Bailey's heels clunking down the hallway, or glimpse her lying on her bed reading, or catch her in my periphery reciting lines into the mirror. I'm becoming accustomed to The Sanctum without her, and I hate it. Hate that when I stand in her closet fumbling from piece to piece, my face pressed into the fabrics, that I can't find one shirt or dress that still has her scent, and it's my fault. They all smell like me now (218)."

As time passes, Lennie's grief also changes. Her life continues to move on despite the loss of Bailey.
"My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn't go away; it beomes part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That's just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don't get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy(257)."

This book has a profound message for teen readers, Nelson has found a way to convey the message of grief and loss, while still creating an interesting and creative character in Lennie who marches to the beat of her own drum while navigating these strong emotions of loss and sadness.


Ashley's Bookshelf said...

Hi. You have a an award here:

Please leave a thank you!

Meg said...

The Sky Is Everywhere sounds really good, but emotional -- I'm not sure I could make it through!