Monday, June 6, 2011


Once in a great while, I read a book which feels achingly, beautifully, pitch perfect.

And I know that book will live on for a long time within me. Forever. Or as long as my forever lasts.

When I was a child, many, many books lived inside me. Their characters became friends who lived past the covers of the book, and into adventures within me. But now, it takes a special book. Maybe I have finite space, or maybe I'm more discerning.

I just turned the last page of THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE. I shed my tears, I smiled my laughs. And now the book lives within me.

That is, it lives within the reader side of me. It made the writer side of me give up writing. How could I possibly add my substandard words to the book world after reading a book in which no word was misused or extraneous? Pitch perfect I am not.

I gave up. For a moment. And then I came back around. And picked up the pen.

When I was a teen*, I made many messes with relationships and people. Life was messy, and because it was messy, it hurt. I felt like I wanted to escape, but that would mean escaping me.

I was the mess.

I couldn't move beyond my mistakes. THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE, reminded me, with startling clarity, that when you start living as yourself--when you start choosing for yourself--life gets messy. You make life messy. But there is hope for coming out the other side--into grace, and into YOU.

So, when I write a big old mess, there is hope that it will come out to the other side (of revision and hard work), and become something achingly beautiful. Jandy Nelson, you've raised the bar high. Thank you.


*Okay, to be perfectly honest, there are days when I still feel like a mess. There just aren't quite as many of them as there used to be. :)


  1. Great review. Casey, my blog partner, loved it too. My teenage years were definitely messy so I should probably read this too.

    FYI I'm interviewing Elana Johnson today and doing a big giveaway to support the debut of her book tomorrow at Literary Rambles. I hope you'll stop by.

  2. I loved this book too! I don't know why I took so long to read it.

  3. Awesome post. I loved the book and want to read it again (but I have so many books to catch up on). It was definitely one of those books that leave you wishing you could write like that.

  4. I haven't read this one, but I guess I have to! Thanks for the review. :-)

  5. All I ever hear about this book makes it sound amazing. I really need to get around to picking it up.

  6. What a wonderful, heartfelt review! I'm adding this to my list.

  7. Well, I'd never heard of this book until reading your blog and now I want to pick it up.

    So, thanks!

  8. I need to get over the cover and pick this up. Doing it now.

    Or soon.

    Soonish, anyway.

  9. Wow! Amazing commendation for a book! I have to read this now. I know what you mean, sometimes I read a book and it is so perfect that wonder why I have the temerity to think I can write. But that's just Ethel, my critic, putting me down again. We all have a song to sing.
    Here's dome advice from Buzz Lightyear:

  10. I've heard such wonderful things about this book. I love the way you put that it now lives inside you.

  11. Natalie--Thanks for the nudge--I'm not getting to my regular blog haunts these days. I'm chalking it up to the last weeks of school, and then I'll be chalking it up to summer! I enjoyed Elana's interview!

    Laura--I think that the title threw me for a while. But after you read it, you realize what a beautiful title it really is. :)

    Stina--I considered flipping the book over and starting it again. (Although it was the first book I read on my NOOK, so whatever the equivalent is.) I might see how many times I can read it before the library snatches it back. And then I'll probably just buy a paper copy.)

    Anna--My pleasure.

    Matt--I don't know if you could tell from my review, but I liked it. LOL.

    MG and Cynthia--I hope you enjoy!

  12. J--There is another cover. You can see it here: There was no cover on my NOOK at all, so I had no opinion one way or another.

    TP&IB--I love that--we all have a song to sing! And your Buzz post was so cute! Thanks for linking to it.

    Kelly--I wish I had more capacity for books inside me these days--most I forget about relatively soon. Old age, perhaps? :)

  13. Hey thought I'd let everyone know we at Boxing With Pencils are having a weekly 100 words or less flash fiction contest with a cash prize of 5 dollars.

    So come on and check it out all you poor ass writers you know you need the money!

  14. Heather, this is a beautiful review. I think most of us can relate to those difficult teen years. Makes me cringe to remember those days! I haven't heard of this book either, but I'll put it on my list. Thanks!