Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
When Lennie's older sister dies suddenly, she is devastated, but she also starts realizing she no longer has to be the "companion pony" to the "thoroughbred" that was her dazzling sister. Living her own life proves difficult, however, both because it "doesn't seem right that anything good should come out of Bailey's death" and because of complications that arise when she falls in love with a talented musician in the school band. This honest, complex debut is distinguished by a dreamy California setting and poetic images that will draw readers into Lennie's world, particularly in the notes Lennie writes about life with her sister on bits of paper and even trees ("I button one of her frilly shirts/ over my own T-shirt./ ....I always feel better then,/ like she's holding me"). The author perhaps creates a few too many vibrant characters and plot points (Lennie also searches for her missing mom and discovers secrets Bailey was hiding). Even so, readers will be moved by Lennie's ability to admit to even some of her most unpleasant feelings and motivations, and her growing willingness to live "full blast." Ages 14-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 10 Up-When her older sister dies from an arrhythmia, 17-year-old Lennie finds that people are awkward around her, including her best friend. While dealing with her conflicted feelings toward her sister's boyfriend, her anguish over Bailey's unexpected death, and her sudden curiosity about sex, Lennie must also cope with her unresolved feelings about her mother, who left when Lennie was an infant. Debut author Nelson expertly and movingly chronicles the myriad, roller-coaster emotions that follow a tragedy, including Lennie's reluctance to box up her sister's belongings and her guilt over bursts of happiness. The portrayal of the teen's state of mind is believable, as are the romanticizing of her absent mother and the brief scenes of underage drinking and sexual exploration. Chapters are typically anchored by brief snippets of Lennie's writings. This is a heartfelt and appealing tale. Girls who gobble up romantic and/or weep-over fiction will undoubtedly flock to this realistic, sometimes funny, and heartbreaking story.-Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Lennie has always been the companion pony to her sister Bailey's race horse. When Bailey dies suddenly while rehearsing the lead in Romeo and Juliet, Lennie is thrust into the spotlight. A normally reserved band geek who reads Wuthering Heights like a manifesto, Lennie is not prepared to deal with her grief. Nor is she equipped to confront the affection she feels for her dead sister's fiancé. Adding to her emotional roller coaster is the gorgeous, musically gifted new boy in town who is clearly in love with her. Lennie is sympathetic, believable, and complex. Readers will identify with her and root for her to finally make the first steps toward healing. Nelson incorporates poems, written by Lennie and left for the wind to carry away, that help readers delve deeper into her heart. Bonus: teens unfamiliar with Wuthering Heights will likely want to find out what all the fuss is about. A story of love, loss, and healing that will resonate with readers long after they have finished reading.--Yusko, Shauna Copyright 2010 Booklist
Horn Book Review
An intimate story about coping with loss, Nelson's first novel is tender, romantic, and loaded with passion. Perfectly content to shadow her high-wattage older sister throughout her seventeen years, clarinet player and secret poet Lennie is utterly devastated when Bailey dies suddenly. The pain is unbearable and hits continually: "My sister dies over and over again, all day long." Her profound loss awakens unexpected new feelings in Lennie; everything becomes more raw and intense, including inexplicable sexual desires. Most confusing is a fierce mutual attraction to Bailey's boyfriend, Toby. No one besides Toby "gets" how Lennie feels -- not even Gram or Lennie's best friend Sarah -- but their moments of frantic groping in search of some comfort leave Lennie feeling guilty and ashamed. Into her darkest hour appears bright, beautiful new boy Joe Fontaine, a brilliant musician with a contagious grin "the size of the continental United States." Showing up daily with breakfast and helping her regain her confidence in the clarinet, Joe might just be "the one" -- that is, if the thing with Toby doesn't wreck everything. The story is set in a dreamy, hippie northern California town, where Lennie's Gram is the local "garden guru" and Lennie's giant, pot-smoking uncle Big is the resident swain. In the wake of tremendous loss, Lennie embraces her own life at last, free to pursue her dreams. From HORN BOOK, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
Lennie, 17, has always been content with her role as the girl in the background, playing sidekick to her dramatic older sister, Bailey. After Bailey's sudden death, Lennie finds herself receiving a lot of attention from her peers and her family. Not one but two boys are interested in her: Toby, Bailey's boyfriend, and Joe, an artistic newcomer from France. Lennie loves them both for different reasons, but she almost destroys her relationship with Joe when he catches her kissing Toby. Romantics need not despair, for Joe is also the one who encourages her to rediscover her love of playing the clarinet, an activity that starts her on her path to becoming more independent. Lennie's losses are both heartfelt and appropriately literary and artsy, but her feelings and self-discovery often get buried in the many plotlines. Tied in with Bailey's death are the loss of Lennie's mother, her obsession with Wuthering Heights and her uncle's role as the town Casanova. This well-intentioned story about love and loss too often gets tangled in its own emo. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.