Disclaimer: I read I’ll Give You the Sun last year and it was absolutely phenomenal. I loved it. So I already knew when I bought this book from Barnes and Noble that I was in for a treat. I love love love Jandy Nelson’s writing style so much, that I will probably do another post specifically about that this weekend.
My Rating: A controversial A-…..you’ll see what I mean.
Goodreads Synopsis: 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.
My Thoughts: This writing style hooks me every single time. I love the poetic prose with such descriptive language. Jandy Nelson has some awesome quotes about being yourself when you write and I think she puts that to the test in each of their books because they feel like you are holding a part of the author’s soul in your hands. The characters had me laughing and crying and grieving right along with them. They are so far from perfect, but at the same time they are the building blocks upon which this story forms. Each one of them is perfect for the role they play. I think the plot moves quickly and covers many of the stages of grief. However, it does include a Love Triangle, which is another major reason why it’s an A- and not and A+.
What I Liked: Aside from the writing style, I think the sporatic poems and notes from Lennie were an interesting twist. It added to the lyrical and poetic tone of the book. The ties between love and grief. In my life, I have felt a similar connection between the permanence of love and grief. Neither really ever fade completely. I also don’t ever think Lennie got the chance to grieve over her estranged mother, so when Bailey dies she deals with that as well which makes every thing twice as difficult. I love books that I can quote and this one is right up there with the best of them. There’s so much heartbreak in this book, but there is also so so so much love. I’ve never read a book that’s this demanding on both elation and aching pain. My chest was on fire the entire time.
What I Disliked: So I really really really loved this book, as in I would turn it into an A+ rating if it weren’t for a few problematic plot devices. I understand that life isn’t perfect, but these are a couple of things that I swear by because I’ve seen them really mess up lives. So while I know that Young Adult Literature is hardly ever a good representation of real life, that’s why it’s fiction, I also have to stand by these principles. My Morals/Ethics teacher would be so proud. Specifically, Joe seems to be the answer to Lennie’s grief. He makes her happy and helps her forget that she is suffering. You could argue that she still works through her grief even through her falling in love with him, and I would say you are right. I just don’t like this theme in YA of girls falling in love after something tragic happens to them, like it will fix all of their problems. It doesn’t, in real life it absolutely does not.
Would I recommend it? Yes, Yes 1000 times yes.
That’s all for now. Continue on your merry ways!