Goodreads Rating: 4.05 Stars
Dial Books Publishing
Publication Date: March 9th, 2010
Get a copy here!
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 center 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 only 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.
This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.
Quick Reasons: poetic, melodic, gorgeous prose; this novel tackles grief–and how differently everybody handles it–with aplomb; I admit, my heart might be just a little bit broken–but also taped back together; realistic, beautifully flawed characters; lots of great moral stuff going on throughout
Okay, okay, you can all get off my back–I finally did it. I FINALLY picked up–and read!–a Jandy Nelson novel. Aren’t you proud of me? Huh, huh, aren’t you?! Because you should be.
Now…I’m not going to say this was the most ground-shattering thing I’ve ever read, because let’s be honest: it wasn’t. There are, admittedly, many more grammatical issues than I expected–I mean, everybody raves and rants about this author, I figured I was stepping into something rather close to perfect. Except…there are mistakes. Quite a good number of them, which I of course paid attention to–in the midst of such poetic, gorgeously lyrical prose, it’s hard NOT to notice when a mistake stutters into the mists of your reading. And each time, I had to stop, backtrack to the start of the sentence, and read it over again–just to make SURE the mistake existed. Sadly, this took a bit of the magic out of this book for me.
BUT! This book? Really tackled grief, and the many different ways people handle it, with aplomb. The lyrical, musical quality of the prose only helped to bring atmosphere and mood to the story. The journey the characters are on–toward acceptance, toward each other–is beautifully rendered. There were several moments I had to stop and just THINK about what I’d read; moments I wanted so badly to step into this world, take the characters in my hands, and tell them everything would be okay; SO many moments I wanted nothing more than to shake sense into them. Of course, they’re book characters–this isn’t a possible thing to do. The desire was there, though, and so so strong.
These characters are beautifully flawed, and in the midst of a journey that nobody should have to handle…and yet everybody, at some point in their lives, DOES have to. Jandy Nelson took one of the most heart-shattering situations in the world…and made it relatable, made it beautiful, made it a lesson–not just for readers who’ve gone through, or are currently facing, such difficult times, but for everybody. There are morals to be learned in this read that are important, guys–perhaps not life-altering, but SO important in their own quiet, subtle way.
So no, this isn’t the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever read…but it’s heartbreaking all the same, in a more subtle, poisonous way. The morals are so important, pertaining to grief, how okay it is to handle it in any way you need to–and pertaining to, if not necessarily moving on after a tragedy, at least figuring out how to pick up the pieces and, perhaps, find yourself in the process. Lennie’s journey is one I think all readers can relate to…and need to read. I definitely recommend to lovers of contemporaries, romances, and novels with a wider-arcing purpose. This is one read I’m glad I didn’t pass up.