Adrift after her sister Bailey’s sudden death, Lennie finds herself torn between quiet, seductive Toby—Bailey’s boyfriend who shares her grief—and Joe, the new boy in town who bursts with life and musical genius. Each offers Lennie something she desperately needs… though she knows if the two of them collide her whole world will explode.
Join Lennie on this heartbreaking and hilarious journey of profound sorrow and mad love, as she makes colossal mistakes and colossal discoveries, as she traipses through band rooms and forest bedrooms and ultimately right into your heart.
As much a celebration of love as a poignant portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often uproarious, and absolutely unforgettable.
“For days and days, the rain beat its fists on the roof of our house- evidence of the terrible mistake God had made. Each morning, when I woke I listened to for the tireless pounding, looked at the drear through the window, and was relieved that at least the sun had the decency to stay the hell away from us.”
There is so much going into this book, and as much as there are holes in it for me, I thought it was a beautiful book that had a clever, original idea as to what ties it all together. Lennie’s older sister Bailey has just died very suddenly due to a heart condition. This book is the aftermath of how she finds herself as her own identity instead of Bailey’s sister. Her Gram has a plant that’s slowly wilting away and she’s convinced that the plant is Lennie, creating quirky but but metaphorical symbol of Lennie throughout the novel.
Lennie struggles right away between her connection to Toby, who was Bailey’s boyfriend, and Joe, the new boy who shows her a world outside of Bailey. Toby understands her pain and the two feel so helplessly connected, but I didn’t love how their relationship played out. Toby showed up for sexual gratification only, and I understand that this may just have been their grief processes, but there wasn’t much meat to his character to make me root for Lennie and Toby to end up together. With Joe, he really is just kind and wants to know Lennie, not understanding her pain but allowing her to forget about it for a while.
Before getting into the parts I didn’t love, there are some important pieces I completely fell in love with and couldn’t stop reading. Through the novel, we see handwritten poems left on crumbled food wrappers, notebook paper, bathroom stalls, etc. They are pieces from Lennie’s mind as she goes through her grief process over Bailey. They are mostly small little fragmented pieces of thought, but they make Lennie a more powerful and likable character when we get to see further into what she is truly feeling. Those notes were the only good connection to Bailey for me.
The part of the book I didn’t like was the fact that I never felt truly connected to Bailey. I didn’t cry while reading the book because I didn’t know Bailey enough to find her likable. It’s hard to make readers fall in love with a dead character, but I like when that happens. As well, I didn’t like how the girls’ absent mother was such a huge part of the book. Over and over again, we hear about their mother walking out when Lennie was one and never coming back, and the book almost foreshadows her coming back in the end after Bailey’s death, but that never happens. Their mother was more of a plot filler in my opinion and didn’t serve a purpose to the novel.
That being said, even with the pieces of the plot I didn’t find important, I found this novel to be extremely powerful and beautiful for young adult readers and even adults alike. It brings you to the point of wondering what you would do if you were in the same position.
“I know we must have moved from that spot, must have washed and slept and ate but in my mind, Gram, Uncle Big and I stayed like that for weeks, just staring at the closed door with nothing between our hands but air.”