I wondered whether or not I should tackle this one. I'm going through my own intense grief right now and wasn't sure if I should read a book about death and grief.
The first 1/3 of the book, I just wasn't sure. The writing was scattered. The characters were odd and situations and her world were a bit unrealistic. Each chapter begins with Lennie's poetry fragments. They somehow fly around the city to be found by others...so odd.
Also, Lennie. She's a literary and music genius. I believe in geniuses, I do but her genius wasn't drawing me in. It confused me.
But it's raw and in your face grief. I get that. I'm getting it. And as the story progressed it all started to make sense. Len's little poetry fragments, her grief over the death of her sister. Her pulling away. Her making out with and almost sleeping with her dead sister's boyfriend...raw.
Lennie has hid behind her sister. She's been her shadow, her sidekick. Now Bailey is gone. Who is she? Who was Bailey?
"But what if I'm a shell-less turtle now, demented and devastated in equal measure, an unfreakingbelievable mess of a girl, who wants to turn the air into colors with her clarinet, and what if somewhere inside I prefer this?What if as much as I fear having death as a shadow, I'm beginning to like how it quickens the pulse, not only mine, but the pulse of the whole world..."
"My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn't go away; it becomes part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That's just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don't get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy."
Yup, a millions time over. Not everyone's grief is the same nor should it be. No one person has the market of what's the proper grief for someone else. Some may get through it and not feel this way but I know so many who are this quote. Me. It's what makes life so precious knowing that it's so fleeting and comes eventually to everyone.
I love the journies Lennie, her sister's boyfriend Toby, her grandmother, and her uncle embark on. Grief shapes their lives; death has forever altered who they will be. Such a beautiful and poetic ending.
The thing that helped turn this around for me was the magical realism elements. She spliced fantasy elements throughout. The fateful notes. Her mother's spells and rituals; cooking and love and wine. It wasn't apparent at first which made me sputter a bit the first 1/3 but I got it in the end.