Book Type: Paperback – library copy
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.
I have been eagerly awaiting this book, having only heard good things about it, and I loved it! This is the first novel by Jandy Nelson, and I hope she writes more as this was a success. This is a young adult book, but one that adults will enjoy too. It is mature and very readable. It did not take long for me to read this book. I was hooked from the beginning and could have easily read this in one sitting.
The story follows Lennie, a seventeen year old who has just lost her older sister, Bailey. She died of an aneurysm whilst in rehearsals. Until then, Lennie had been floating through life, working hard at school, spending her summers making lasagne at a local Italian restaurant and playing her clarinet. They lived with Gram and their uncle, Big. Their mother Paige had left when Lennie was one. She had what Gram called the “restless gene” and could not stay settled in one place for long. This had never bothered Lennie, but as Bailey had got older and her relationship with Toby grew more serious she started to look for Paige. After Bailey’s death Lennie does not know how to cope. She spends time with Toby, but their grief is leading them to be more intimate than they should be. Toby reveals many things that Lennie didn’t know about Bailey and her plans too. Then Joe appears – the new boy in town and in band practice. Lennie starts to fall for him, but hates herself for it as she should be grieving all the time. She also hates that Bailey is not around to see Lennie in love. Lennie has to learn to deal with her grief, understand that other’s are hurting too, and learn about love all at the same time.
This book is moving, often sad, and at times funny. Nelson explores all the feelings involved with grief and I think the portrayal of Lennie is accurate. She struggles after the death. She doesn’t want to pack up Bailey’s things, she doesn’t know how to react around people and she starts to feel things that she had never experienced before. She channels her grief into sexual tension, and acts irresponsibly with Toby because when she is with him she feels Bailey around them. I liked Lennie. This book is a journey for her and I think it was so well written. I felt so sorry for Lennie, and really wanted good to come of the situation.
I liked the other characters too. Lennie’s friend Sarah was funny, but I loved that she let Lennie have a free pass card, so her aloofness could be forgiven as she grieved. Sarah was always there when needed though. Big also made me laugh, with his efforts to revive dead bugs. Joe was a bit too in touch with his emotions for my liking – a bit jealous and easily angered. However, his pursuit of Lennie was sweet. My favourite character was Gram. She was strong, having lost her daughter and grand-daughter. She was honest and blunt when she needed to be, and I loved reading about her.
One feature of this book I really liked was at the beginning of most chapters was a picture with a poem Lennie had written and where it was found. In the book she is often writing on rubbish or tables or trees, as an outlet for her feelings, and I loved that the reader got to experience this. I also loved how Nelson used music as a release too – this reminded me of Sarah Dessen and how she uses creativity as a way of coping.
There is nothing bad to say about this book and if you like a realistic, touching and gripping book this is for you. This is for everyone, not just teenagers. I loved this book, and it was well worth the wait.