This book is sort of about life after death. For the living. Lennie is 17. She’s read Wuthering Heights too many times to count. She’s a band geek (clarinet). And she’s always lived life in the shadow of her dazzling older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies unexpectedly, Lennie is left alone and struggles to cope with the grief and to find out who she is without her sister.
Lennie has stopped talking to her eccentric grandma (who raised the two sisters after their mother abandoned them as toddlers) and has been avoiding her best friend. She’s never had a boy in her life before, and now she finds herself torn between two. First, Bailey’s former boyfriend, Toby, shares the same sadness and love as Lennie. They comfort each other in their grief, but this takes them to uncomfortable places in their relationship which, after filling Lennie with desire, fill her with guilt. The second boy is Joe, a new boy at school whose smile and eyelashes, along with his personality, make it possible for Lennie to move on and feel happiness again; he allows her to leave her sorrow and move on. Throughout the novel Lennie is writing poems, thoughts and memories on scraps of paper and leaving them around town. These scraps are shared with the reader throughout the book, giving us insight into Bailey and Lennie’s past as well as Lennie’s current emotions.
I enjoyed this book and loved how Jandy Nelson told the story. There were times that I was angry with Lennie, but she was also angry with herself. The characters were sometimes whimsical and unrealistic, but somehow it all worked, and in the end I came out having enjoyed the time I spend reading it.
Rated: High. The language is at times rough (although not horrible or frequent enough to distract from the story). Lennie’s pot-smoking uncle plays a role in raising her (alongside her grandmother). There is one episode of teen drinking. But the main reason for the high rating is teen sex in the relationship between Lennie and Toby. While sex never happens, there are descriptions of his hands being in her shirt, in her pants, discussion of his anatomy and later discussion between Lennie and Joe of Lennie planning her future loss of virginity to him.