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“You can tell your story any way you damn well please. It’s your solo,” Lennie. –The Sky is Everywhere
The Sky is Everywhere
by Jandy Nelson
AR Test, Strong Female Character
After seventeen-year-old Lennie’s sister Bailey dies suddenly, Lennie finds herself trying to navigate a new world without her sister. Lennie lives in California with her grandma, Gram, and her uncle, Big. Lennie is passionate about Wuthering Heights, writing poetry, and music, and playing the clarinet in her school band, where she meets a charismatic new boy named Joe Fontaine.
Another large part of Lennie’s life is her best friend Sarah and her sister’s boyfriend, Toby. Things become complicated when Toby and Lennie start a secret affair while Lennie also begins a relationship with Joe. When she’s with Toby, Lennie feels free from the inescapable loneliness that surrounds her, although she also feels that her relationship with Toby is wrong. Joe is the opposite, the only person in Lennie’s life who didn’t know Bailey, which provides Lennie with an escape from the grief that follows her and her family around.
Lennie finally decides to end her relationship with Toby, because it is causing more harm than good. Then they share a final, goodbye kiss. However, Joe catches the two of them. Joe immediately ends their relationship, especially hurt by Lennie’s actions because she knew he had been cheated on in the past.
Lennie and Sarah scheme ways for Lennie to win Joe back, ranging from seduction to chopping down her grandmother’s roses, which are known around town to cause people to fall in love. However, in the end, what causes Joe to forgive Lennie is a poem that she writes for him, in which she expresses her intense love for him. The novel ends with Joe and Lennie’s reconciliation, as well as a new, budding friendship between Toby and Lennie.
Told from Lennie’s perspective, The Sky is Everywhere presents an inside look into the transition to normality after experiencing grief. Although the plot contains a love triangle, in reality, it is much more focused on Lennie’s relationship with herself. Lennie grows to accept that although her sister is gone, Lennie will always be able to treasure her sister’s memory and love. Lennie comes into her own and in doing so, recognizes a passion for music, something she had become complacent in for fear of failure.
Lennie will be relatable to many individuals struggling through grief, experiencing love for the first time, or those on a journey to discover who they are and what they’re passionate about. Nelson’s language is beautiful, immediately drawing the reader in and causing them to care deeply about the characters and their struggles. Although the love between Joe and Lennie is rushed, overall, the plot flows well, creating a story that’s intricate and easy to follow. The story reinforces the idea that it is never too late to find your passion. It also emphasizes that it is human to make mistakes, and this doesn’t mean you should give up.
- At the beginning of the novel, Lennie mentions, “suddenly all I think about is sex.”
- As Lennie and Toby hug, consoling each other, Lennie notes, “I feel a hardness against my hip, him, that.”
- When remembering her embrace with Toby, Lennie thinks, “I recall the sensation of him pressing into me, shivers race all through my body-definitely not the appropriate reaction to your sister’s boyfriend’s hard-on!”
- When Lennie encounters Toby after their past meeting, all she can think is “boner, boner, erection, hard-on, woody, boner, boner.”
- Lennie recalls a conversation with her sister, where Bailey says, “Toby and I did it, had sex last night.”
- After drinking and talking about Bailey, Toby “kisses me—his mouth: soft, hot, so alive, it makes me moan.”
- After Lennie tells Sarah about her kiss with Toby, Sarah remarks, “Grief sex is kind of a thing.”
- Lennie wonders what is wrong with her, because she has romantic feelings for Toby and Joe. Sarah asks, “What kind of girl wants to kiss every boy at a funeral, wants to maul a guy in a tree after making out with her sister’s boyfriend the previous night?”
- Lennie and Toby meet up and kiss. Lennie feels “his mouth crushing into mine, teeth and tongue and lips.”
- Lennie and Toby almost have sex. She thinks Toby “must have eight hands because one is taking off my shirt, another two are holding my face while he kisses me . . . another two are one my breasts, a few are pulling my hips to his and then the last undoes the button on my jeans, unzips the fly and we are on the bed, his hand edging its way between my legs.”
- After Joe almost catches Lennie and Toby together, Toby is described as “trying to cover a freaking hard-on.”
- To stop Joe’s suspicion about her and Toby, Lennie kisses him. “I mean really kiss[es] him.”
- In Joe’s bedroom, Lennie starts to imagine Joe naked, and then remarks, “I’ve never even seen a real live guy totally naked, ever. Only some internet porn Sarah and I devoured for a while.”
- As they lay in a bed, Joe asks Lennie, “Are you a virgin?”
- Lennie gives Toby a sort of goodbye, closure kiss. “I kiss him and keep kissing and holding and caressing him, because for whatever fucked-up reason, that is what I do.”
- After daydreaming about Joe, Lennie thinks, “I’m so fed up with my virginity. It’s like the whole world is in on this ecstatic secret but me.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Lennie describes her uncle Big as the “resident pothead,” and “smoking so much weed that when he’s home he seems to hover.”
- Lennie’s friend Sarah is often described as “smoking cigarettes,” and “trying to blow smoke rings, but blowing smoke blobs instead.”
- Toby sneaks into Lennie’s room at night and “pulls a pint of tequila out of his jacket pocket.” The two proceed to take pulls from the bottle.
- When Lennie sneaks off during lunch, Joe follows her, describing her hidden spot as the “perfect spot for a gingerbread house or maybe an opium den.”
- Lennie imagines her and Joe drinking “red wine” in Paris.
- While on a date, Lennie and Joe drink “some wine Joe swiped from his father.”
- Sarah takes Lennie to see a movie and offers her some vodka. Later they are “passing the bottle of vodka back and forth.”
- Profanity is used occasionally. Profanity includes fuck, shit, damn, and ass.
- When Lennie is in band class, her teacher encourages them to “stick your asses in the wind!”
- As Lennie and Joe kiss, she says that she’s turned into “a total strumpet-harlot-trollop-wench-jezebel-tart-harridan-chippynymphet.”
- After talking to Lennie about her mom, Joe calls himself a dickhead.
- Gram believes that a certain household plant “reflects [Lennie’s] emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being.”
- Both Lennie and Bailey compare Toby to St. Francis.
- When talking with Joe, Lennie remarks, “My favorite saint of all time is a Joe . . . Joseph of Cupertino, he levitated. Whenever he thought of God, he would float into the air in a fit of ecstasy.”
- While sitting at Bailey’s desk, Lennie notes that there is a statue of St. Anthony: Patron of Lost Things.
- After clearing the house of things that Gram has deemed unlucky, Gram remarks to Lennie, “You know that mask Big brought back from South America… . . . I think that it might have a curse on it.”
by Sara Mansfield