Publication date: March 2010
Lennie Walker, a musician and average teen, is desperately trying to deal with the death of her energetic and loveable older sister, Bailey. Her grief paints every day of her life and her interactions with others. She finds herself drawn inexplicably to two very different boys - Toby, Bailey's boyfriend who seems to be the only person who understands the extent of her grief, and Joe, a gorgeous new boy with musical genius and a desire to bring Lennie out of her grief-stricken world. But, she can't have both and she definitely can't have Bailey back, so she must try to decide what she can have and what she wants.
Things I Liked:
It was absolutely beautifully written. I can understand all the raving about the writing. Nelson has crafted words and sentences and colored a world that you can't help but love and grieve in. Her depiction of Lennie's pain and the poems she writes to help her deal with it are just heartbreakingly real and gorgeous. Anyone who's dealt with loss and grief will feel it just as Lennie and those around her do. That is what I loved most about this book, Lennie's grief and her awakening to those around her who also lost Bailey. It was so interesting to imagine what Lennie had to become in the wake of Bailey's loss and what she might not have done if Bailey had stayed. Difficult to contemplate and yet so interesting to think about. While the love story was emotionally riveting, I found it secondary to the rest of the book. I couldn't cut down on the quotes I loved from this book:
This is northern Northern california after all - the final frontier of freekerdom. Just in the eleventh grade we have a girl named Electricity, a guy named Magic Bus, and countless flowers: Tulip, Begonia, and Poppy - all parent-given-on-the-birth-certificate names. Tulip is a two-ton bruiser of a guy who would be the star of our football team if we were the kind of school that had a football team. p 6
"You duck! You flying yellow duck! And you took this long to tell me?!" When Sarah gets excited, random animals pop into her speech like she has an Old MacDonald Had a Farm kind of Tourette syndrome. p 47
I put aside for a moment the fact that I've turned into a total strumpet-harlot-trollop-wench-jezebel-tart-harridan-chippy-nymphet because I've just realized something incredible. This is it - what all the hoopla is about, what Wuthering Heights is about - it all boils down to this feeling rushing through me in this moment...Who knew all this time I was one kiss away from being Cathy and Juliet and Elizabeth Bennett and Lady Chatterley!? p 117
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 colors with her clarinet, and what if somewhere inside I prefer this? What if as much as I fear having death as a shadow, I'm beginning to like how it quickens the pulse, not only mine, but the pulse of the whole world...how can the cost of this change in me be so great? it doesn't seem right that anything good should come out of Bailey's death. p 144-145
For the rest of my life, I'm going to leave the femme fatale-ing to other femmes. All I want is to flee, but I don't want them to stare at my butt as I fly into the woods in this tiny piece of fabric masquerading as a dress. p 204Things I Didn't Like:
Actually, while my heart was breaking for Lennie, I found the love story to be rather predictable. I saw from the start when she liked those two boys what would happen. I really wanted to smack Lennie and tell her to get it straight before she messed up, but I also couldn't because she felt so broken. The romantic triangle was kind of blah and annoying for me, even as it was supposed to be breaking my heart. As I noted above, it felt secondary to the exploration of Lennie's grief and her life after her sister was gone.
Reminded me a little of North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley in terms of writing
She's been compared to Sarah Dessen a lot too
BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
a lot of encounters for Lennie, some fairly descriptive
Overall rating: ****
Do you ever find a book has great writing but disappoints in other ways, or has a fabulous story but the writing is just ok?
If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage