Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Feeling Blue (The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson)


'You can tell your story anyway you damn please.
It's your solo.' -  Jandy Nelson, The Sky is Everywhere, page 213

I was expecting to love this the same way that I loved I'll Give You the Sun, but, for the first one hundred pages, this was a two star read. It's billed as a story about grief, about healing and, whilst I did find it satisfying, to watch Lennie grow into and out of herself, I felt like the book's real focus was the love triangle.

Lennie is sixteen. She's...I suppose the word is artsy. She's on the school band, she scatters poems across the town, and she loves Wuthering Heights. Like all female YA protagonists, she has somehow managed to attract two boys. There's Joe, the new guy at band, who she likens to Heathcliff in terms of appearance. For me, a book is balancing on a knife edge the moment it starts comparing anything about its romance to Wuthering Heights. There's also Toby, her dead sister's boyfriend. Yeah. That wasn't even the real problem with it. The real problem was that Lennie, who is grieving, is not in a good place for a relationship right now, and her decisions throughout the novel show it. Part of my problem may have been that certain, um, aspects of Toby and Lennie's attraction to one another come across as a little crude towards the beginning of the novel. It was a bit of a shock - I don't think I've ever seen that happen in YA fiction before.

Character-wise, I found Lennie to be quite dislikeable. She reads like the writer was trying too hard to make her artsy and alternative. A girl who scatters poems around town is not unbelievable. A girl who writes them on takeaway cups and then buries them is. There's another that she writes on the sole of her shoe. How many shoes do you own that have soles smooth enough to write on? Joe is sweet and...well. Joe is sweet. He plays guitar and horn, he has two (living) brothers, and he lives in a big house. Some of his choices seem a bit odd when you later find out what he knows. I can't tell you much about Toby beyond that he rides horses and he skates. And he's broken. So so broken.

It's not that The Sky is Everywhere is a bad novel. It's just that the love triangle overshadowed the good parts, like the way it dealt with Lennie's grief.

The Sky is Everywhere or I'll Give You the Sun

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