Lennie’s world is shattered, her life broken into little pieces ever since the day her older sister died, and she does not know how to glue it back together. Nothing feels right: she can’t share her grief with her grandmother or her uncle (both of whom she lives with), she doesn’t know what to say to her best friend Sarah, and she can’t play her beloved clarinet. All she can do is express her feelings in the poems that she writes on bits of paper, receipts, empty cardboard cups, and leave them wherever she goes, hidden under trees, shoved behind gates… that, and Toby. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend and as they find themselves unable to deal with their grief, they get closer, and overwhelmed by their feelings, they kiss. And it does happen just the one time. Lennie is confused, angry and struggles with her guilt. But newcomer Joe Fontaine is about to turn her world upside down. Can you really be deliriously happy and bereaved at the same time?
I have to confess that at first I did not get on with the book. I found the writing “over” poetic if that makes any sense, not realistic enough for a seventeen year-old. Things got much better as Joe arrived in the picture (*swooning* moment here) and by the time Toby discloses he and Bailey’s second big secret (sorry, I don’t want to give too much away so this is sounding really vague), I was hooked. So yes, this is a book about bereavement, but gosh, it is so much more than that. It is about falling head over heels in love; it is about finding who you really are, understanding yourself, freeing yourself from your expectations, and also finding the ability to forgive, whether it is yourself or someone else. All the little notes that Lennie writes are like windows into her soul and the reader can understand how she is feeling long before she realises it. I really loved the little twist about these notes at the end (again sorry, not trying to give too much away).
Anyway, despite a shaky start, I have loved this book. I read it very late into the night to finish it, which is my favourite time to read a book like this. I just love finishing a book, then switching off the light so I can spend a little bit more time just myself and the story. I cried a lot, as usual!
I do have a little rant about it though: being French, I can honestly say that there is probably nobody under the age of 40 called Geneviève. Why do non-French people think it is a popular name??? Sorry, rant over!
And finally, one could not write a review of The Sky is Everywhere without mentioning the design, which is stunning. The book is like a notebook, with a soft cover and elastic around it. Also the text is blue rather than black. I think Walker Books have done fantastically here (and it is not the first time, Timothée de Fombelle’s Toby Alone is another beautiful example). I am really sensitive to book covers and book design and I know I am not the only one; I would say 90% of the pupils in my school would choose a book primarily by the cover. So “don’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t cut it; we all do and Walker Books know it. Bravo to them, it is top marks from me!