Summary: Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker 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 centre 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, with a nearly magical grin. One boy takes Lennie out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But the two can't collide without Lennie's world exploding...
This book is probably one of the best I’ve ever read and because of that, this is one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever tried to write because it’s really difficult to put into words exactly what it was I loved about it.
I mean, the writing itself was beyond fantastic and the characters were so amazingly unique and eccentric and real that it made their personalities almost jump off the page and made me wish I could jump into the story just to be there with them, to know them… but I what made me love the book was so much more than that.
I guess I have to take this review to a more personal level, which I don’t really like to do but it’s the best way to explain. My dad died… and that’s different from a sister dying, like in the book, but grief is universal and the pain is the same, missing someone is the same, the guilt at feeling happy while they’re dead is the same -- and pretty much every page of the book described all the emotions I’ve been through perfectly, even though the circumstances of Lennie’s grief were totally different from mine.
Parts of the story, like this part:
“Gram made me go to the doctor, to see if there was something wrong with my heart”
Had me crying so much that I would have to take a break from reading because I went through that too, my mum wanted to see if my dads heart problem was hereditary, and so I was crying for the character and because I knew her pain too -- pretty much the whole book was like that, there was this heaviness in my chest with every page I turned (you know the kind, like this deep sadness and you could cry at any moment) and it was empathy for the character, but it was for me too.
And this quote:
“My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That’s just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don’t get one without the other.”
That one paragraph put into words something that I have been trying to come to terms with for years, since he died, and somehow seeing it in writing -- seeing it in someone else’s words -- made it easier to accept and made it finally sink in, I guess.
Although death was a big theme in the book, it was really more about life and love. The characters and their stories and all of their little quirks and habits and imperfections are what really made the book; it breaks your heart with the sadness but heals it with all of the cute and funny and brilliant moments in between.
I could go into specifics with the characters, but I loved Joe and his brothers and Lennie and Sarah and Big and Gram and Toby and even Bailey, although she was in the story in this weird limited way, I loved them all and kind of wish they were all real... there's just too much to say about them.
Sorry… I know this review probably doesn’t make much sense, like I said, it’s difficult to explain why I loved it. When I finished reading, I ended up putting on my ipod and staring at the ceiling for about and hour and then procrastinated for days about what to write in the review and I just figured I’d wing it… but anyway, I really recommend the book.
Oh, and major sign that I love a book, I mess around making bad fan art for it with my limited photoshopping skills:
P.s. I also really recommend the UK version, the way the book is packaged is gorgeous, from the material (journal-like, right down to the elastic that holds it closed) to the font inside to the random coloured pages of pictures of Lennie’s poems.