This is a big book…. it deals with raw emotion and all the big themes; death, love, grief and the sheer overwhelming ride that we call life (I know… a bit cheesy but it was deep man!)
Lennie lives in a small town in America – let’s call it ‘generic small town America’. She plays the clarinet in the school band, has an older sister called Bailey that she idolises, lives with her Grandmother and Uncle Big and has a best friend who she tells everything to. Life is good. Then, out of the blue her Gram gets a phone call saying that her sister has dropped dead in the middle of rehearsals for a play and her world falls apart. Lennie has always felt like she isn’t good enough, or not as good as Bailey at any rate. Her mother has gone off and left them and her dad isn’t mentioned so not sure who he is so she probably has severe abandonment issues too.
The only person who seems to come close to understanding her loss is Toby, her sister’s boyfriend. They were both 19 and had just got engaged. He cannot understand what has happened and neither can she so they lose themselves in each other. But then along comes Joe Fontaine with his infectious smile and willingness to try and break through the grief to rescue Lennie. And he is adorable. He turns up at the house with breakfast every day, plays every musical instrument known to man, used to live in Paris so speaks French, has gorgeous brothers that all the girls fancy….. you get the idea? He even writes a song just for her (aah the romance!)
This book is deep. It deals with grief and the guilt that the living feel. Lennie feels guilty that she is still alive and can still love and be loved, all normal emotions after losing someone you have loved. She makes mistakes, but then don’t we all? Don’t we all do stupid things when we are unbalanced and unsure of what to do next? The shock and the anger and the sheer selfishness of grieving is so well written; how each character deals with it in their own way and block each other out at the same time. I haven’t read her other book but it is on my list of things to do but whatever you do, don’t judge Lennie for her decisions until you can say you have walked down that road, her friend does and of all the characters in this book she is the one I like the least.
PS. I love Uncle Big and his womanising ways, especially they way he seduces women in his crane!
Futher Reading: I Give you The Sun by Jandy Nelson and Bridge to Terabithia by Katharine Paterson.