What I Learned About Love and Loss Reading The Sky Is Everywhere
Recently, I reviewed Jandy Nelson’s novel I’ll Give You The Sun, this week it’s her debut novel, The Sky is Everywhere. Written from the point of view of seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker as she deals with an absentee mother and the loss of her sister all while unexpectedly falling in love for the first time.
Jumbles of Contradiction
It’s strange how often two contradictory factors appear in our lives, a stressful change meets a new healing love. A great career milestone meets the loss of a pet. The loss of a sister meets first love. It’s as though fate, god, or whatever you may believe in throws you a tough blow but then provides you with a little extra support to push you through it.
In this way, The Sky is Everywhere brings together love and loss, showing how little control we really have over the want of the world. We have no power when it comes to loss. We lose people without prior permission, they disappear from our lives without our say so. In the blink of an eye, you may never see a loved one again. Maybe you just never speak again, or perhaps you fall out of love.
In that exact same way, however, people can appear just as unexpectedly. One moment you might be turtling through life without much care for love and then all of a sudden it barrels in through the door wearing a grin so cheeky that you can’t help but catch entirely alight. Whether you want to or not. Whether you thought you could or not. Sometimes love just appears there because you needed it to.
A jumble of contradictions that somehow has the two entities working to try and even each other out. You love so that the loss doesn’t hurt so bad, but the hurt can make the love lose its glimmer a little. The Sky is Everywhere encapsulates the abrasive joining of the two and shows how devastating they both can be from time to time.
The Sky Is Everywhere – First Love
- “He doesn’t have to say it, I feel it too; it’s not subtle – like every bell for miles and miles is ringing out at once, loud, clanging, hungry ones, and tiny, happy, chiming ones, all of them sounding off in this moment.” Page 186
- “It’s as if everything around us stops to see what’s going to happen next – the trees lean in, birds hover, flowers hold their petals still. How could he not surrender to this crazy big love we both feel?” Page 260
- “I look down at the piles of words that used to be my favourite book. I want to put the story back together again so Cathy and Heathcliff can make different choices, can stop getting in the way of themselves at every turn, can follow their raging, volcanic hearts right into each other’s arms.” Page 279
- “I’m afraid to open my eyes, but I do, and he’s standing at the edge of the bed looking down at me – an army of ninja-cupids who must have all been hiding out in the canopy draw their bows and release – arrows fly at me from every which way.” Page 298
- “And then he smiles, and in all the places around the globe where it’s night, day breaks.” Page 301
- “Oh Man,” he says, pulling me down to him, and then we’re kissing so far into the sky I don’t think we’re ever coming back. If anyone asks where we are, just tell them to look up.” Page 304
The Sky Is Everywhere – Heartbreaking Loss
- “I need an alphabet of endings ripped out of books, of hands pulled off of clocks, of cold stones, of shoes filled with nothing but wind. I drop my head on Toby’s shoulder. “We’re the saddest people in the world.” Page 47
- “I realise something that scares me: I’d be happy, but in a mild kind of way, nothing demented about it. I’d be turtling along, like I always turtled, huddled in my shell, safe and sound. But what If I’m a shell-less turtle now, demented and devastated in equal measure, an unfreakingbelievable mess of a girl, who wants to turn the air into colours with her clarinet, and what if somewhere inside I prefer this?” Page 62
- “The bottom drawer’s full of school notebooks, years of work, now useless. I take one out, glide my fingers over the cover, hold it to my chest, and then put it in the carton. All her knowledge is gone now. Everything she ever learned, or heard, or saw. Her particular way of looking at Hamlet or daisies or thinking about love, all her private intricate thoughts, her inconsequential secret musings – they’re gone too. I heard this expression once: Each time someone dies, a library burns. I’m watching it burn right to the ground.” Page 171
- “The truck blasts through the trees and I stick my hand out the window, trying to catch the wind in my palm like Bails used to, missing her, missing the girl I used to be around her, missing who we all used to be. We will never be those people again. She took them all with her.” Page 238
- “I try to fend off the oceanic sadness, but I can’t. It’s such a colossal effort not to be haunted by what’s lost, but to be enchanted by what was.” Page 309
Love and loss can be so closely entwined each making the sting of the other feel a little keener. You miss someone when they’re gone because you loved them, you love someone so much because you’ve lost people before, you’ve had to let them go. And that will always hurt, and you will always love them. But you can still love others wholly, even with a broken and fractured heart.
“My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn’t go away; it becomes part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her.” Page 291
Get The Sky is Everywhere here
What book resounded with you in how it dealt with loss?
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