Warnings: very mild mentions of sex, death, mild swearing.
Author: Jandy Nelson
‘Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to centre stage of her own life – and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two.
Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.’
Someone needs to stop me from reading Jandy Nelson books because I end up a crying blob on the floor by the end of them.
This book was PERFECTION. I’m not a fan of romance generally, but when she does it, I’m so ready. I adored the characters – Lennie was a character I thought I would be friends with (obsessed with books, bank geek) and I want to steal all of Joe’s family because they sound gorgeous. Family members are sometimes skipped over in YA books, but you really connect with Uncle Big and Gram. You even get to know Bailey really well, even though she’s dead throughout the whole book. I did think Toby was skipped over a bit for him to be mentioned in the blurb. You don’t see much of his character but the person he’s become, devastated by Bailey’s death.
The general storyline was enthralling the whole way through. I never felt bored or disengaged with Lennie – any empty space was broken by her grief, which I thought was extremely well written. It didn’t seem like the ‘oh, woe is me’, feeling sorry for yourself kind of sadness. It was primal and raw , causing you to feel her sadness with her instead of watching it from the outside.
Like I said, I’m not a fan of romance that’s the generic cheesy, cringey, forced kind. Lennie and Joe actually seemed like they had chemistry and there wasn’t the all-encapsulating love at first sight moment that magically pulled her out of her sadness. It felt like a real-life relationship. (I cried for the last few chapters because of all my feels about them)
The poems scattered through the book were really beautiful and allowed you to get a closer look into Lennie and Bailey’s relationship, as well as Lennie’s thoughts in general.
Alternately, one of my good bookish friends, abookandbeyond, didn’t adore this book as much as I did. You can find her review here.