The cover says: One boy helps her remember. The other lets her forget. And while those are both accurate statements, I'd argue that the heart of this book is not about the "boys" but about one girl. A girl named Lennie Walker, who has just lost her older sister and feels that loss acutely. She doesn't think anyone understands--not even her Gram or her best friend, Sarah--although each tries to get Lennie to open up and talk about her grief.
Returning to school, things are even worse.
"My sister dies over and over again, all day long."
The only person she feels like might get it is Toby, her sister's boyfriend. He's in that same dark place, and when they're together, it feels as if Bailey's spirit is with them, alive again. But when their shared grief takes an unexpected turn, Lennie's as confused as ever. How can she be attracted to her dead sister's boyfriend?
And then, of course, there's Joe Fontaine. He's new in town, a virtuoso musician, and so full of life it practically jumps off of him. When Joe smiles, his infectious personality slowly breaks through Lennie's sadness. He makes her feel things she's never felt before--but again, how can life move on without her sister? How can Lennie?
The Sky Is Everywhere was such a vivid novel. I could hear Joe's music through Lennie's lyrical descriptions. I felt what she felt. Every time Lennie was happy about something--only to be devastated when she remembers her sister is gone, every time she learned another one of the secrets Bailey was keeping from her, I felt her sorrow. Every time Joe called her "John Lennon," my heart fluttered along with Lennie's. *sigh*
What really gets me though is how Nelson is able to mix in so much humor with the heartbreak. Big and Gram were two of the best side characters I've ever read. Both of them were out of their tree--Gram with her aphrodisiacal roses and Big with his endless string of marriages--but they were such a hoot. I couldn't help but love them as much as Lennie did :-).
And again, JOE FONTAINE! This guy was amazing, truly amazing. I loved how he didn't give up on Lennie, how he just kind of steamrolled into her life and made everything in it brighter. While Lennie was falling in love for the first time, Joe was right there beside her.
Possibly my favorite line from the book: "Our tongues have fallen madly in love and gotten married and moved to Paris." <3
The notes/letters before each chapter were absolutely perfect. The little glimpses we got of Lennie's soul on the scrap pieces of paper/wall/wrapper were heartbreaking but beautiful. Which is exactly how I would describe this standout YA contemporary: Heartbreaking but beautiful. I'd highly recommend it!