For fans of John Green, David Levithan and Rainbow Rowell: a beautiful, funny and heartfelt novel about love and forgiveness. 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 suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two boys. 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...
Lennie has lost her sister, dramatically and suddenly, and she finds herself lost in grief. She writes little notes to sum up her feelings before dropping them around town. The strong and sad prose and the odd pieces of poetry offer a unique insight into Lennie's confused head. Especially her strange reasoning as she gets close to Bailey's boyfriend Toby, the only one who seems to understand how she feels.
Then there's Joe, new boy in town, who doesn't treat Lennie with kid gloves, pulls her out of her funk, makes her laugh when she thought she'd forgotten how. Lennie is stuck between two guys, both very different but both helping her deal with Bailey's death in different ways. The whole story revolves around the deep and soul-crushing emotions rolling around in Lennie's head, and her trying to deal with them. She's devastated at Bailey's death but feels guilty for being happy with Joe.
I read this after I'll Give You The Sun, so I can see how Nelson's writing has evolved, how she is very skilled at writing tantalising and emotive characters. Speaking of which, I loved the diversity in Lennie's family, from hippy and green-thumbed Gram to hulking but sweet Uncle Big. In the end, Lennie realises that she's been wallowing in her own grief without noticing theirs.
Lennie properly screws things up, with just about everyone, in her attempt to get back to normal. But grief makes people do stupid things and it may have taken Lennie a while to get to a near-happy place but her journey is a powerful one. An incredible story with unforgettable characters and a moving story of love between two sisters and their family.
Published 5th February 2015 by Walker.