If you read one YA book this summer (other than this one, of course, duh), it really ought to be The Sky is Everywhere.
When I first heard about this book, the reviews were outstanding, but I still knew that it was going to take a whole lot of convincing to get me to pick it up. “Oh right, another YA book about grief. Check. Main Character writes poetry to express her feelings. Check. New and gorgeous boy comes to town and captures her heart. Check.” So I wasn’t feeling the premise.
Then I read this review and this one and I decided it was worth trying out. I’m glad I did, because it is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Jandy Nelson is the real deal. She has taken subject matter that has been written about time and again and she has found a way to make it feel different. There are new insights here, and the language is perfection. The themes are explored deeply, and the relationships between the characters feel entirely true. I think that the quirkiness of the characters also does a lot to set this story about loss apart from all the rest. You care more because you feel that you know the characters better than in many novels. I was also surprised that the poetry aspect worked for me, maybe because there was a lot more to Lennie (the main character) than her poetry. It didn’t feel forced, as I thought it would. The blend of humor and sadness is unexpected, but it works too. I guess that’s really it. With this book, things you don’t expect to surprise, let alone dazzle you, do. Lovely from beginning to end.
The Sky is Everywhere is published by Dial.