Monday, October 10, 2011

The Sky Is Everywhere

"I don't believe time heals. I don't want it to. If I heal, doesn't that mean I've accepted the world without her?"

In this beautifully written novel about grief, family, and love, seventeen-year-old Lennie does not know how life can go on after her older sister, Bailey, dies. Len is consumed with sadness and anger and loss. Months pass and food still tastes like ash; the world has lost its color. Her quirky family--Gram and Uncle Big--try to fill the void left behind but only Bailey's boyfriend, Toby, really seems to understand. United in grief, Lennie and Toby find themselves drawn together and suddenly their relationship has become romantic--a guilty secret they try to resist but can't. The more Lennie tries to stay away from Toby, the stronger the attraction becomes. In the meantime, she's pulled away from all the other people in her life who want to help her, not only her family but her best friend too.

Then a new boy moves to town and into Lennie's music class. Joe Fontaine is the most alive person Lennie has ever met and his charming persistence finally begins to wear down Lennie's staunch refusal to play her music seriously since her sister's death and also her refusal to take part in a world that continues to go on even when the most important person in her life has disappeared. Joe becomes more and more dear to Lennie as each day passes. . . so why can't she stop meeting up with Toby?

A friend recommended this novel to me as the best book she's read all year. I can see why she enthused about it so much. You can tell the author is a poet--her way with words is magical. One of the most compelling parts of this book are the poems scattered throughout it, all written by Lennie on scraps of paper, the undersides of benches, discarded cups and the like, poems Lennie abandons to the world in a effort to reach her sister or simply trying to deal with loss. Strong characters populate this book, each of them fully developed, with a story of their own to tell. You'll want to take your time with this novel and drink it in. This is a spot-on portrait of grief, in all its confusing emotions, and a reader is unlikely to find another that tells the tale of loss and love so well.

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