Reviewed Annabelle F (Year 10)
I know there are some mixed opinions about this book, but personally I think it deserves Book of the Month. I love the way it is written, I love the characters, how crazy it is, the poems, how it explores grief. You can really tell that it means a lot to the author, it really comes through in her writing, because whilst there are some moments that might seem very tumblr, I think it is genuine. Something as honest and genuine as this book could only come from real emotion, real experience, and I think she has done a brilliant job of communicating that with the world.
Grief stricken, lovesick, Wuthering Heights obsessed Lennie Walker aka John Lennon is a bit of a mess, even by the standards of the (out of its tree and running around the park) crazy, hippy place she lives in Northern California. Juliet, that is, her sister Bailey has just died. Lennie now knows that the worst can happen at any time, and she struggles with the fact that her sister, her best friend, is never coming back. Lennie, in her agony, starts to shut the people she loves out, as she herself shuts down. That is until Toby (Bailey’s boyfriend) and Joe (a crazy French musician with the amazing signature Fontaine smile) come along….
Lennie thought her life couldn’t get more complicated, she thinks she’s only just started to wake up, that her sister was made for this, she was the actress, made for all the drama, not her, not Lennie, and so we follow Lennie as she realises that she was awake all along and she stops fighting against her grief and realises that as long as she lives, she will grieve because that is the way that love works.
Along the way, a few (many, beautiful) poems are strewn around town, and we get to read some of them. Personally, I adore them. They capture Lennie so well and I think foreshadow who Lennie grows to become, show us who she has been all along. Not a companion pony but a whirlwind of love and light and craziness and imagination. They capture her, her grief and her love in such a thoughtful way, but are also kind of like a wrecking ball of emotion, you can’t avoid it, you can’t not feel what she’s feeling, not know what she knows. I really love them, and I think they are the empirical evidence that poetry is not dead, but very, very alive to those who doubt.
So do I love this book? Yes. Do I think that you should read it or reread it? Yes. And do I think it deserves book of the month? Yes! (100%, affirmative, amen, right, aye, beyond a doubt, by all means, certainly, definitely, gladly, most assuredly, naturally, of course, sure thing, undoubtedly, unquestionably, without fail, yep, ja, oui, sí, joo, áno, hej, 是, ae, yebo, you should definitely get the message if you’ve get this far, which I do not expect but well done if you have, in all honestly, would I have written this review if I didn’t think it was worth one, if not, twenty three reads? I hope someone spots all my references…)
Jandy Nelson is also the author of: I’ll Give You The Sun (another brilliant book)
If you like this book you might also like… We Were Liars (E. Lockhart), Eleanor and Park (Rainbow Rowell), All the Bright Places (Jennifer Niven)
To check the availability of these books in the school library, go to the Reading Cloud