Recommended by Cindy who sold me on it by saying "Humor, grief, sexy bits"
I apologize profusely for taking so darn long to post this review. This was the first thing I read back during the read-a-thon, having only a quarter of the book left to finish at the beginning of the day and desperately needing to finish it before I started on anything else. Why has it taken me so long to write this review? Because the read-a-thon was when my books read to books reviewed ratio started to get skewed and I just lost track of this one for awhile.
But no longer!
Lennie and Bailey are sisters who've been inseparable for as long as Lennie can remember. Abandoned by their mother when Lennie was only two, they've grown up with Gram, an artist who only paints with the color green and grows the most beautiful roses in town, and Uncle Big, a man in love with love, and they've been a content, if idiosyncratic, family for years.
Until Bailey dies suddenly of an arrhythmia. Lennie feels like she's lost without her beautiful and talented older sister around. Gram and Big both fret over Lennie, trying to support her while also letting her heal and grieve in her own way. To add to Lennie's disorientation, she finds that after a lifetime of indifference to boys, sex is suddenly on her mind all of the time, leading her alternately into the arms of her sister's boyfriend and the handsome new French boy in her music classes, in an attempt to reconnect with the world again.
I should note that Cindy's full recommendation of this read "Humor, grief, sexy bits, a reefer smoking uncle and a painter gram (who is made of awesome) and random poetry, a forest bed and band geeks. Doesn't get much better." I couldn't agree more, and that one sentence really does sum up all of the wonderful aspects of this novel. All of the characters were beautifully drawn, even the adults (who often get the short end of the stick in YA books). I love that Uncle Big still loves the idea of romance after five divorces, and fully believes that the roses Gram grows cause people to fall in love.
The snippets of poetry throughout the novel are absolutely inspired. Each chapter begins with a piece of Lennie's poetry written on any number of found objects - receipts, coffee cups, park benches - if she can leave her words on it, Lennie will find a way.
Lennie's relationships are absolutely heartbreaking and totally real. Sometimes she isn't the easiest person to like, because the rational part of my mind says making out with two different guys and lying about it is uncool, but at the same time my heart was breaking for her - Lennie has lost so much in her life, is it so wrong that she wants all of the love she can get at this time?
Definitely one of the top books of the year - you absolutely have to seek this one out!