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The Sky Is Everywhere – Book Review

The Sky is Everywhere

Encountering echos of a theme or thought, feels like reinforcement.  Layers being put in place, creating a pattern and a sense of order.  It seems significant when a visible thread links chance encounters.  Once I came across 3 different references to Socrates and his bowl of hemlock in about as many days, if I were superstitious I would probably have headed for the poison cupboard.  The 3 most recent books which I have read are beads of different hues on the same string.  These books are Love May Fail by Matthew Quick, The Outsider (The Stranger) by Albert Camus, and The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.

The excellent book Love May Fail, made multiple references to Camus.  Somehow 20 odd pages in, I forgot that I was reading The Outsider and picked up a new book The Sky Is Everywhere.  I am not generally drawn to YA fiction but it was in a goodie bag at a book bloggers event.  I absolutely loved it!  Despite grief and loss being the central theme, the book is not depressing.  Quite the opposite, every page is alive and sings.  I can understand why Jandy Nelson said that she felt so happy while writing the book.

While the central characters are teenagers, as a woman on the wrong side of 40, so much still resonated with me.  Not only was the experience of reading The Sky is Everywhere rich and meaningful but Jandy Nelson prompted me to write 4 poems outside my comfort zone of more traditional verse.  Her loose style inspired and impressed me.

Prompt, my reflection in the window, all crazy hair. (Lennie in The Sky is Everywhere also has wild hair)

This riot of hair
will not allow
sitting still
holding a number – denoting place
or order
These eyes
shoot out
messages
which fall like plucked arrows
short of the mark
only to close
defeated by
walls
These no-good-hands
not grasping
silently sign
that something’s gone
and the pen
in unmanicured fingers
refuses to write
on the lines

xxx

and the other poem inspired by this book

MORTALITY

I greet my mortality
like a blind person
tentative fingers
following the lines, of a face
that I don’t want to see
All other senses recoil
at the presence of bones
and the reminder
that thin flesh
stands between them
and that hard whiteness of a truth
that they don’t want to know

The Outsider - Camus

On closing The Sky is Everywhere, I returned to The Outsider (The Stranger), the black bead on this strand which portrays grief in a manner which is the polar opposite to that experienced by Lennie and her family.  This classic is challenging, absurd and haunting.  With the residual influence of Jandy I wrote another 2 poems and can’t decide which works better

Between the pages of
The Outsider
I encountered my colder self
She is the cloud between
the sun, and
likeable me
She changed the air
and all things birdesque
within
Came to ground
like, smashed clay pigeons

or

Between the pages of
The Outsider
I encountered
my hollow self
sought her face
but found only
The empty space
Which holds
The reaper’s hood, in place

The magic of reading, enriches and expands the mind.  These 3 books hung together like mismatched Christmas baubles, each one belonging on the same tree.  I like that.

 

One comment

  1. I actually have “The sky is elsewhere” on my Kindle – bought it on one of those 2 dollar Amazon specials but have never read it. Will do now – something to look forward to in December

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