The Sky is Everywhere Summary
It's been a month since Lennie's nineteen-year-old sister Bailey died, and Lennie is a mess. She refuses to move any of Bailey's things in their formerly-shared bedroom, she's writing poetry about Bailey and leaving it all over town, and she's barely talking to her best friend Sarah or the people she lives with, her Gram and Uncle Big. She's never known her mother, who supposedly has the family's "restless gene" and left when she was young—but she's even feeling her mom's absence more strongly now that Bailey's dead.
Oh, and since the funeral, she's been attracted to every boy.
But there are two boys in particular who are paying attention to her. There's the new boy in school, Joe, an excellent trumpet player with a beaming smile who wants to play a duet with her. Before you aw, though, we should mention that Lennie used to be a talented clarinetist, but for some mysterious reason, she all but quit. So she really doesn't want to play the clarinet.
Meanwhile, Bailey's fiancé, Toby, ends up kissing Lennie while they're talking about Bailey—not so much in a creepy way as in a desperate, sad sort of way. And Lennie kisses back.
Things heat up with both boys. Toby tells Lennie he and Bailey were secretly engaged. (Hang on—we swear we're getting to the "heating up" part.) This surprises (and kind of hurts) Lennie because Bailey hadn't told her. Plus, Bailey's childhood dream was to study acting at Juilliard, and though she got rejected, Lennie assumed she would try again. A wedding would've gotten in the way of Bailey's dream. With all this surprise and confusion in her head, Lennie thinks about the wedding Bailey might've had, and she and Toby both get really sad and start kissing again.
While she's dealing with the guilt of making out with Toby, summer hits and Joe starts coming over every morning. He makes friends with Gram and Uncle Big, and seems to temporarily lift their depression. Eventually, he tells Lennie he likes her and she actually tries playing her clarinet with him. After a face-plant the first time, she tries again and she feels a temporary sense of relief.
But even as she's falling for Joe, life is complicated. She finds her statue of St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost things, on Bailey's desk, and later learns that Bailey had been seriously searching for their mom before she died. Lennie's been trying to avoid Toby since she really likes Joe, but this discovery drives her to ask Toby why Bailey was searching. Toby tells Lennie that Bailey was pregnant, and that launches them into another grief make-out session. Joe shows up at that exact moment and storms off.
Suddenly alone, Lennie turns to Sarah for help getting Joe back, and apologizes for avoiding her. Sarah's bright idea is to seduce him with her looks, which (surprise) fails. Lennie finally packs up Bailey's things and takes them to the attic, where she finds a box of unsent letters Gram has written to her mother. The letters reveal details that she never knew about her mother, and these details make her mom seem real and her abandonment feel worse.
Then, to cap off her terrible week, Lennie sees Joe at the movies with someone else, so she cuts Gram's magical love roses and brings them to Joe's. It doesn't work, and Gram is furious about the roses. She tells Lennie that she's been selfish, that she's been grieving just as hard as Lennie is, and Lennie hasn't even talked to her.
This pushes Lennie to have a real conversation with Gram and ask about her mother. Gram finally tells her the whole story—that when her mom wanted to leave her kids with Gram, Gram threatened her by saying if she did that, she could never come back. Gram's guilt makes Lennie realize she's had a mother this whole time—Gram.
The ending is a happy-sad mix. Lennie writes a love poem to Joe, and it turns out Joe has read all the poems she's been scattering everywhere. They helped him understand her, and he forgives her. The last pages of the book feature both Uncle Big's wedding and a trip to Bailey's gravesite. At the gravesite, Lennie finds Bailey's engagement ring, and can't help thinking about how her sister doesn't have a future. She realizes grief never goes away; it is something she will always carry with her.
Part 1 / Chapter 1
- Okay, the first paragraph is a bit of an info dump. "Gram is worried about me," the narrator tells us, not because "my sister Bailey died four weeks ago, or because my mother hasn't contacted me in sixteen years, or even because suddenly all I think about is sex." Whoa, narrator—you want to introduce yourself first?
- Turns out Gram is worried about the narrator because she believes one of their houseplants represents the narrator, and that houseplant has spots. (Metaphor much?)
- Gram discusses the plant's condition with Uncle Big, who is described as the house's pothead and arborist, i.e. informal plant doctor. He, very dramatically (because of his booming voice), pronounces the plant's condition to be "very serious."
- The narrator tries to ignore them. She scribbles a poem in the margins of Wuthering Heights; she claims to have no use for talking.
- Eventually, Gram and Uncle Big stop talking and sit on the couch next to the main character; the three of them sit there staring into space for the rest of the afternoon. We're told this is how things have been since the main character's sister, Bailey, collapsed one month earlier from an arrhythmia.
- So basically, no one is doing well, everything is intense, and we still don't know the narrator's name.
- So this chapter opens up with a poem, which you should get used to, because poems are scattered throughout this novel.
- The poems are in a different font that makes them look handwritten, and are in the voice of the narrator.
- This poem describes the main character's last morning with her sister. Bailey was trying on shirts and asking her opinion about them, but she was too tired to care.
- The main character's name is finally dropped in the poem: It's Lennie.
- Cut to regular prose writing. It's Lennie's first day back at school after her sister's death, and everyone's either treating her very delicately, or telling her about the Hot New Boy who arrived during her absence.
- Lennie finds Hot New Boy in her seat in band class and totally agrees with the hype.
- The boy, whose name is Joe Fontaine, chats with her; Lennie feels guilty for flirting when her sister is dead.
- Apparently, this has been happening to Lennie a lot lately. Ever since Bailey's funeral, she's been thinking inappropriate sexy thoughts about almost every boy she meets.
- But Joe, she decides, glows in a class above the other boys. She thinks he looks like a well-adjusted version of Heathcliff, the brooding main character from Wuthering Heights. (Heads up: Those Wuthering Heights references are going to keep on coming, so if you want to pause for a little crash course in the book, just click here.)
- We're introduced to some more characters: Sarah, Lennie's happy-goth bestie, and Mr. James, the band teacher.
- Then there's Rachel Brazile, whose saxophonist ex-boyfriend starts playing the Jaws theme song as she approaches. Which basically tells us everything we need to know about Rachel.
- But just in case we need more reasons to hate her, we learn that Rachel got first chair over Lennie, plus, when she says Joe moved from France, she pronounces it, "Fronce." Ew.
- Rachel starts flirting with Joe, and to Lennie's chagrin and disgust, he flirts back; Lennie changes her mind and decides he looks nothing like Heathcliff.
- The chapter ends with another narrative poem, this one about how after Bailey died, "time didn't stop." People kept doing the normal everyday things—crushing crackers into clam chowder, etc.
- Did we mention all the poems are end-capped with the weird places where they were found? This poem was found on a piece of staff paper spiked on a low branch at Flying Man's Gulch.
- After school, Lennie walks home through the woods in order to avoid Sarah, who wants her to talk about what she's going through. Eventually she sits on a rock, writes down a conversation she remembers having with Bailey, and buries it in the ground.
- When she gets home, Toby, Bailey's boyfriend, is lying on his back in Gram's garden, just waking up from a nap. Apparently Gram's been inviting him over a lot, but this is the first time he's shown up.
- Lennie was never a fan of Toby, because he "had turned Bailey into a permanent love zombie" (3.15).
- Back to the present: Toby asks Lennie if she's okay, and she shakes her head no. When he says, "I know," his expression makes her believe he actually feels the same way she does.
- Lennie tries to go upstairs to her and Bailey's shared room, but is interrupted by Gram. They have an awkward conversation about Lennie's day, which turns into Gram suggesting Lennie study music with someone named Marguerite. Lennie refuses.
- Gram sends Lennie outside to help Toby weed, but they just nap in the garden beside each other. Later, they head inside with Uncle Big, and everyone eats a sad dinner together.
- Lennie and Toby head upstairs to Lennie and Bailey's shared room and listen to Bailey's music while looking at pictures of Bailey.
- Lennie and Toby say goodbye in Gram's garden. It takes awhile. They both say how it made them feel better to hang out with each other, and the neighbor's dogs greet Toby, and Lennie calls him St. Francis (a saint who supposedly talked to animals), and Toby says Bailey used to say that. It's starting to feel like they're lovers parting ways, except for the whole dead sister part.
- Toby finally hugs Lennie goodbye, and Lennie feels a hardness against her hip. Yeah, it's what you think it is.
- Time for another poem. This one's about Bailey's funeral service, how someone in her drama class yelled "bravo" at the end of it and everyone stood up and applauded, "for nineteen years/of a world with Bailey in it" (3.76).
- Joe Fontaine plays a trumpet solo in band class and everyone swoons.
- Then, as if being cute and talented isn't charming enough, Joe catches Lennie's eye and raises his eyebrows.
- Rachel, playing the mean girl role perfectly, catches that subtle flirtation and tells Lennie flat-out that Joe is hers, and that he's out of Lennie's league, since Lennie's never even had a boyfriend. Ouch.
- Mr. James asks the band who is auditioning for All-State next year, and instead of raising her hand, Lennie drops her pencil and spends a lot of time picking it up.
- Sarah catches that and texts her, asking why she didn't raise her hand. She says Joe's trumpet solo reminds her of "that day."
- Flashback to "that day": in honors band, the beginning of Lennie's freshman year. Mr. James, hippie-like, took the band class into the forest, and started conducting the river and the trees. Lennie was the first to actually play, and eventually, other's joined in. When they got back into the classroom, Mr. James gave Lennie Marguerite St. Dennis's card.
- We know from Chapter 3 that Marguerite is not a shrink, but a music teacher. So Lennie's really talented, which explains why everyone's giving her a hard time for not playing.
- Which leaves us with one big question: If Lennie is so talented, why is Rachel first chair?
- This chapter starts out with—you guessed it—a poem, which actually reads more like dialogue with no quotation marks.
- In the poem, Bailey tells Lennie that she and Toby finally had sex, Lennie pretends not to care, and Bailey gets annoyed at Lennie's non-reaction.
- In the present, it's 2:00AM. Lennie is writing a poem about Bailey on the wall of Bailey's closet, listening to pebbles ping on her window. She knows it's Toby, and wishes she didn't know that.
- Toby tells her he can't sleep, and that he has something to tell her.
- As they tiptoe through the house toward her soundproof room, Lennie reflects that this was not what Gram meant when she'd told Lennie to reach out to Toby. Yeah, probably not…
- They sit beside each other in silence for a while, then they banter about how quiet Toby generally is.
- They talk about how no one else understands what they're going through, and they say they're glad they at least have each other. Can you tell where this is going?
- Toby pulls a bottle of tequila out of his jacket and offers it to Lennie.
- Toby tells Lennie that he asked Bailey to marry him, and she said yes.
- Lennie is shocked, especially since her sister was only nineteen years old. She also feels left out, and Toby saying "we were going to tell you" only makes her feel more left out.
- She'd thought that going to Juilliard was Bailey's dream, and she just doesn't understand how marrying Toby would fit with that.
- The pair gets even more sad, if that's possible. Toby touches Lennie's hair, Lennie thinks that he misses Bailey as much as she does, and suddenly they're kissing.
- They cry and spoon and fall asleep and wake up and kiss, becoming the very picture of a hot mess.
- A very short poem end caps the chapter: "I/wish/my/shadow/would/get/up/and/walk/beside/me."
- This chapter starts with a storybook-style poem about two sisters, the younger following the older everywhere.
- Lennie's eating lunch in a tree, which is funny, because her Gram's expression for "crazy" is "she's out of her tree."
- Joe Fontaine, stud trumpet player, finds her and says hi, as if what she's doing is totally normal.
- She invites him up, and he climbs to her branch; he asks her what's in the bag, and she teases him for being a scavenger. He says it's the French in him and then starts speaking French, which basically makes her melt.
- Joe and Lennie adorably play what's-in-the-bag, because Gram apparently puts all kinds of things in Lennie's brown bags. Lennie hands Joe her lunch bag, and he pulls out: an apple, Wuthering Heights, and a peony.
- Lennie tells Joe that he has the name of her favorite saint, who apparently levitated.
- They get quiet, which, if the previous chapter is any indication, is a sign of romantic things to come.
- Joe tells Lennie he saw her the other day, writing something and then letting it go. Lennie is secretly delighted that he's been following her; she asks him why.
- Joe says he's curious about the way she plays the clarinet, which for Lennie is a buzz kill.
- Oblivious, Joe goes on to say that her technique is amazing, but she's not trying.
- Joe asks her if she'd like to play with him. Lennie, rather rudely, turns him down.
- So Joe jumps out of the tree, saying it wasn't his idea anyway.
- Sarah shows up in Lennie's bedroom, demanding they go out for breakfast.
- Sarah can't ignore how Bailey's things are strewn all over the room, as if Bailey is going to come home later—to her, this is like a giant red sign of how Not Okay Lennie is.
- On the way to breakfast, Sarah chats about how she wants to go to a symposium at a nearby college on French Feminism so she can snag a boyfriend who knows about existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre. You know, normal teenage stuff.
- The subjects turns to His Hotness Joe Fontaine, and the mystery of why he seems to like Rachel. Sarah suggests that Lennie could challenge Rachel for first chair.
- Flashback time. Lennie had just quit her clarinet lessons and was hanging out with Toby and Bailey, when Toby explained that racehorses have companion ponies that always stay by their sides.
- Lennie decided she was like a companion pony—and companion ponies, she decided, don't play first chair, audition for All-State, or consider going to Juilliard.
- Sarah and Lennie get pastries and sit on a bench. Lennie tells Sarah that she kissed Toby.
- Bomb dropped, Sarah tries to be comforting, but clearly thinks Lennie has betrayed Bailey's memory.
- Lennie tries to explain that Toby is the only person who gets her, which is totally the wrong thing to say to a friend who shows up at your house and makes you go out to breakfast.
- Another poem—this one's about how everyone says Lennie looks like Bailey.
- Lennie doesn't see it, and thinks she's just the side-kick sister. She describes her features as blander, her actions as less interesting. She says that in photographs, Bailey is always looking at the camera, and she is looking at Bailey.
- Lennie realizes her St. Anthony statue is not where it usually is. Instead it's on Bailey's desk, meaning Bailey moved it there before she died.
- St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost things.
- The statue holds up a picture that Bailey drew when she was a kid. It features her missing mother as an explorer on top of a mountain, with Lennie, Gram, and Uncle Big watching her from the bottom.
- Lennie puzzles over the mysteries that are piling up about Bailey: Why she had insisted on painting the walls of their bedrooms shortly before her death, why had she kept her engagement a secret, and what had she needed to find?
- A poem describes Gram spending a night crying in front of the painting of Lennie's mother, saying, "I'm sorry."
- In the poem, Lennie thinks something that she knows is terrible. She thinks Gram should be sorry for letting both her mom and Bailey leave her.
- School's out, and Lennie paints a whole picture of how miserable each of the Walkers are. Gram has been following Lennie, trying to get her to pack Bailey's things and crying when she's in the shower; Lennie's daydreaming about kissing boys; and Uncle Big has been trying to resurrect bugs with his pyramid replicas.
- Joe Fontaine knocks at the door.
- Lennie's first reaction is to make everyone hide—she's not sure she can handle company—but Gram opens the door and invites Joe in.
- Joe comments on the garden, which gets Uncle Big going on the garden's passionate effects on everyone who smells Gram's roses. Gram gives Joe a tour.
- They sit down to breakfast and Joe asks about the Lennie plant.
- Uncle Big tries to explain, which makes the Walkers burst into much-needed laughter.
- After breakfast, Joe and Lennie go outside, where Joe asks again if Lennie will play music with him.
- Turns out he knows Marguerite, Lennie's former clarinet instructor.
- Lennie admits that she blew the first chair audition on purpose.
- Joe doesn't think her admission is a huge deal, which surprises her. He asks her again to play, and she says, "maybe sometime" (9.96).
- The poem that starts this chapter is different from the others. It's about grief, so, you know, brace yourselves.
- "Grief is a house" (10.21), Lennie says. She goes on to describe a nonfunctional house, one where the chairs forget to hold, mirrors to reflect, and walls to contain.
- Cut to Lennie freaking out about packing Bailey's things. She has the boxes, she's kneeling in front of Bailey's stuff, but she can't handle the idea of Bailey never touching that stuff again.
- Lennie wonders if her mother felt anything when Bailey died.
- Gram always explained that her mother had the family "restless gene," which is why she left.
- Lennie opens her curtain, unprompted, and sees Toby on the grass.
- Lennie and Toby go on a night walk to the river. But while Lennie inwardly vows not to kiss him, we are raising our eyebrows.
- Both Toby and Lennie confess that they feel everything more intensely now that Bailey's gone; Lennie says she feels guilty for being the sister who is still alive.
- Toby talks about the plans he and Bailey made for their wedding, Lennie starts crying, and then they start kissing.
- Another poem sort of explains, or attempts to explain, the kissing: When Lennie's with Toby, the house of grief feels less scary because he can walk through the rooms beside her.
- Joe's been spending every morning with the Walkers, and Lennie walks downstairs to find everyone in a cheerful mood.
- When her phone buzzes, it's Toby.
- To keep everyone from wondering why she's ignoring her phone, Lennie asks Joe if he wants to duet with her.
- Joe starts playing. Lennie thinks about everything that's been building up inside her, the mystery and the grief, and blows into the clarinet for a while, making a terrible sound that makes the neighbors' dogs bark.
- The next poem is almost like prose. The first half describes all the decisions Lennie had to make for the funeral, like editing the obituary.
- But when Lennie saw Bailey's body in the casket, she snapped and started shaking her sister until Uncle Big carried her down to the river so they could cry.
- Lennie returns from work to find Joe and his older brother, Marcus, carrying items from Lennie's house onto their lawn.
- Gram emerges and explains that they are going to remove everything that could possibly be unlucky and perform a cleansing ritual.
- The boys seem happy to go along with it, and when Gram tells them to get their third brother and their instruments, they oblige.
- Gram takes their departure as an opportunity to kindly remind Lennie that she should be cleaning Bailey's things, or to let her do it. Lennie snaps at her.
- The Fontaine boys return and everyone eats dinner. Lennie is jealous of the way the Fontaine boys interact with each other, when she doesn't have her sister to banter with. This gets her thinking about how Bailey will never know the Fontaines, and she's suddenly so sad she runs away.
- Joe follows her.
- Lennie asks why Joe's been hanging out with her all the time, and he says he likes her. (Yay.)
- He asks if he can take out the rubber band that holds her ponytail, and then does, very sensually.
- Lennie asks about Rachel and Joe says, "What about her?" and wraps his arms around her.
- Lennie and Joe's tender moment is breached by creaky redwoods that make Joe jump.
- They head back to the house, where Toby's truck is parked. Uh-oh…
- Toby and Joe look at each other like the other is competition.
- Joe asks who Toby is and, not knowing what to do, Lennie offers to introduce them.
- They cross the room as the other Fontaine boys play intense flamenco music.
- Luckily, Gram butts in and explains that Toby is Bailey's boyfriend—thanks, Gram—and Joe relaxes.
- Toby is not happy, though and he leaves. Lennie walks him out, and he has this tough skater dude look that makes her want to be with him.
- She tells him to meet her tomorrow after work, against her better judgment.
- Now for a poem which is really a list of things people would say to her and Bailey when they referred to them as one word: "girls."
- Lennie apologizes to Joe and heads upstairs—too much boy drama for one night.
- Why Lennie chooses this moment to start packing up Bailey's things, we're not sure, but she pulls out Bailey's desk drawer and starts taking inventory of its contents.
- There's a card in there from a private investigator, with an appointment written on it. Whoa.
- The only reason Lennie can think why Bailey would see a PI was to find Mom. But three years ago they were told it was impossible… which makes this a good time for a flashback.
- Bailey was demanding to know where their mom was, because she thought Gram knew.
- Uncle Big appeared and explained that he'd already hired a PI, who didn't find anything; he also pointed out that they didn't even know if Paige was still alive.
- Gram asserted that she was alive and then left the room.
- The next poem is about Gram. Apparently she occasionally has spells where she spends days in the art room without a break.
- This chapter's poem is made up of dialogue between Lennie and Bailey, imagining where their mom must be while they are lying in bed.
- Bailey imagines that their mom is thinking of them, but Lennie doesn't believe it.
- In the prose world, Lennie heads downstairs in the morning, and apologizes to Gram that they never got to do Gram's ritual the night before.
- Gram asks Lennie if everything is okay between her and Toby. Gulp.
- Luckily for Lennie, they are interrupted when Joe and Uncle Big come in for breakfast.
- Lennie mentions that she has to go to work early because they're catering a party. Gram is doing flower arrangements for the same party, which leads Lennie to think about how one of Gram's main rules is never to prune or cut her flowers.
- Joe walks Lennie to work. On their walk, he talks about how the two of them should go to Paris—he's really working the whole France thing.
- The idea of leaving her sad life and adventuring with Joe makes Lennie so excited that she tells Joe she feels like she could catapult into the air.
- The duo shares a very cute eye-locking moment, and then an even more momentous kiss.
- This chapter begins with a poem-sentence ("I/can't/shove/the/dark/out/of/my/way"), so you know it's going to be bleak.
- Sure enough, Lennie comes home to Toby lying on her bed.
- Lennie feels pulled almost immediately to Toby—all he says is hi, and then they're kissing.
- Things are moving really fast. Toby's unzipped their pants and has pulled Lennie onto the bed when a downstairs door-slam stops them.
- They jump into their clothes. Lennie tells Toby that she wants to stop, that being with him isn't comforting anymore, that instead it makes her feel worse.
- From downstairs, Joe's voice calls up to Lennie.
- When Joe sees Toby, he gets suspicious, but Lennie lies and says she and Toby were looking through Bailey's things.
- Toby leaves.
- Joe is not completely convinced, so Lennie kisses him to distract him from the situation.
- It's a really good kiss. It makes Lennie think about how Uncle Big once told her that the sky being "above" everyone is a misconception, because sky starts at our feet.
- This chapter's poem is another conversation between Bailey and Lennie, about how Lennie thinks Bailey has been in "zombie-land" since she started dating Toby. Bailey explains to Lennie that she's never felt this way before, though, and that she thinks she's in forever-love.
- Speaking of love, present-day Lennie heads downstairs, ready for her date with Joe.
- Pretending it's no big deal, Lennie tells Gram and Uncle Big that she's going over to Joe's house.
- They say they want to go with her, and Lennie is horrified… until they start laughing. Good one, guys.
- Turns out, they could tell Lennie's going on a date because she's all dressed up and her hair is down.
- Lennie thinks that no kissing-related experience of her life has ever made her feel as good as walking to Joe's house.
- "When Joe plays his horn" could be the title of the poem that starts this chapter, if Lennie's poems had titles. According to Lennie, Joe's horn playing causes her to fall, flowers to swap colors, centuries of rain to pour back into the sky. Well then.
- Date-time. Joe shows Lennie around his house, and the tour ends in his room.
- It's a huge mess of instruments, half-drunk cups, and notebooks, but Lennie likes it.
- They admit how much they like each other, and make out.
- Joe suggests they play a duet, and he leaves to search for a clarinet.
- Lennie's in his room solo for a while. She tries to figure out why she was with Toby earlier when she likes Joe so much. She decides it can't be about trying to forget Bailey, because when she kisses Toby, she feels like Bailey is all around them. And being with Joe makes her feel a little guilty, as if she's abandoned Toby and Bailey.
- She also misses Sarah, who she's been ignoring, so she texts her.
- Then she finds an opened notebook with her name in it. She reads part of what appears to be a diary entry by Joe about how much he likes her and how she's nothing like Genevieve.
- Naturally, she wonders who Genevieve is, but when Joe returns, she doesn't ask.
- They play a duet, which makes Lennie really happy. She feels like Bailey is listening.
- Then they have a picnic with wine, cheese, and a baguette outside. Ooh la la.
- They ask each other if they've ever been in love.
- Lennie says she hasn't felt anything strongly until recently, after Bailey died. She explains that she felt like she was asleep until her sister's death, but now she's awake.
- Joe, on the other hand, has been in love before. With Genevieve, until he walked in on her hooking up with his boarding school roommate. Bummer.
- This makes Lennie feel incredibly guilty for what Joe almost caught her doing earlier.
- Lennie wakes to the very amused duo of Gram and Uncle Big standing over her bed, talking about her.
- They conclude that because Lennie has been in bed until noon, her lips are wine-stained, and she's wearing the same dress as yesterday, she's falling in love.
- Lennie can only confirm their hypothesis by saying corny things like "I just want to lie here forever and think about him," and "he's a musical genius."
- When Uncle Big leaves, Gram asks if they should go over The Talk.
- Lennie blushes and stammers that there's no need for The Talk yet.
- But all this Talk talk makes Lennie think about Toby—she worries about what could have happened between them if Joe hadn't interrupted.
- Sarah calls Lennie and they make plans to meet at their spot at Flying Man's Gulch and go swimming.
- When they get there, Lennie tells Sarah all about her romance with Joe. Much squealing ensues.
- Sarah is trying not to be mad at Lennie for ignoring her for so long, but her anger is clearly there; Lennie apologizes.
- Lennie gets a text from Toby, saying he needs to talk to her. Sarah grabs the phone from her, sees the text, and disapproves.
- Lennie tries to pretend like nothing is happening between her and Toby, and she and Sarah jump into the gulch screaming, as is their tradition.
- When Lennie gets home, Toby is there.
- She tries to avoid him, but he follows her to her room and apologizes to her—though Lennie feels pulled toward him, she doesn't give into the temptation.
- Then he says he can't stop thinking about her.
- Lennie tells him to stop, and then goes into her closet and shuts the door until he leaves.
- It starts raining. Lennie looks out her window and sees Joe running to the house.
- Joe had to sneak over because since we last saw him, he's been grounded. Apparently the wine he and Lennie shared the night before was $400. Oops.
- They kiss, and it's all very romantic and movie-like with the rain pouring around them.
- Then Joe sees Toby creepily watching them from the window.
- He asks if he's just being paranoid, worrying about her and Toby. Lennie says he is, and—surprise—feels terrible.
- We just want to hug all three of them.
- Lennie plays Joe's song and misses her sister.
- She finally starts cleaning out Bailey's desk, packing her sister's stuff into boxes.
- In the midst of cleaning, Lennie finds notebooks full of name combinations, indicating that Bailey was trying to search for their mother using names from books that once belonged to her.
- This is a total surprise to Lennie.
- Time for a poem. It's about Lennie and Bailey as little kids, playing vicious card games in Bailey's bed. It was all a ruse, an excuse to fall asleep in the same bed.
- In the opening poem, Lennie talks to the "half-mom" painting, and imagines her mother living in the sky.
- After summer band practice, Joe and Lennie go for a forest walk; Joe is still creeped out by the sounds of the trees.
- Joe asks about Lennie's mom and is baffled by Lennie's lack of anger at her mother's abandonment.
- Then he decides she is forgiving, unlike him, which as you can imagine, makes Lennie nervous.
- Lennie takes Joe to a bedroom set in the middle of the forest—her secret place.
- They climb on the bed.
- Joe asks if Lennie's a virgin, and he says he wants to be her first. Lennie is so overwhelmed that she cries—but in a happy way.
- They are really into each other, so they make out some more.
- The poem that starts off the chapter is ominous: "the/world/is/not/a/safe/place."
- Lennie arrives home to Toby's truck. She gets mad at a confused Gram, and then gripes that Toby is always over.
- She tries to make him avoid her room by playing Bailey's punk music (Toby hates punk), but as you might guess, that just makes her think of Bailey.
- She continues the search for their mom, typing in more name combinations, but doesn't find anything.
- Lennie finds Toby outside and asks him why Bailey was looking for their mother.
- Toby gets really upset, and eventually reveals that he and Bailey were going to have a baby.
- The news hits Lennie hard. And, feeling terrible for Toby, they start kissing—it's kind of what Lennie does.
- But they are caught in the act this time—by Joe.
- Lennie tries to explain, but Joe is super upset; he tosses a sheet of music at her, a song he'd composed for her.
- Gram holds Bailey while she cries. Turns out she knew from the autopsy that Bailey was pregnant.
- Lennie heads upstairs to her room and really loses it. She imagines Bailey playing with her baby, and the intensity of her grief literally makes her vomit.
- She realizes that without Toby and Joe, she is completely alone.
- Another conversation-poem ends the chapter, one where Bailey promises Lennie that she'll never disappear like their mom.
Part 2 / Chapter 26
- In a poem, Bailey imagines their mother on a train in Barcelona, on her way to see them; Lennie wakes up feeling slightly less terrible.
- She tries searching for her mom some more, and she realizes that she always thought Bailey had the same restless gene as their mom.
- She finds Big on the porch and confesses her theory: that Bailey had the restless gene.
- Uncle Big doesn't agree, though, and he points out that Bailey was relieved to be rejected from Juilliard. He adds that the person he saw working hard toward a dream was Lennie.
- Uncle Big says that if anyone had the restless gene, it's Gram, but she just keeps it bottled up.
- Lennie asks why her mom couldn't just bottle it up, too, and wonders what other families would call what her mother had.
- Uncle big says it doesn't matter because it's their story to tell.
- Lennie is awed by this, because she'd never before thought of her life as being open to interpretation.
- In a poem, Lennie admits that she used to like how her mother belonged to her and Bailey alone.
- The Walker household is a sad place without Joe—Gram is mopey, and when Uncle Big asks where Joe is, Lennie cries.
- At work, Lennie is so stressed out that she can't even make lasagnas. (Don't tell Garfield.)
- Good thing she called Sarah, who shows up and asks what's wrong.
- When Lennie tells her, Sarah makes the mistake of saying Bailey would kill Lennie.
- Lennie yells at Sarah, but she yells ridiculous things about saints, so it doesn't get ugly, and instead they both wind up laughing so hysterically that Lennie's boss sends them outside.
- Sarah decides that Lennie should seduce Joe to get him back.
- Lennie apologizes about having been so distant with Sarah; she realizes Sarah's been grieving for Bailey, too.
- Cut to band practice, where Sarah has dressed Lennie in a tiny dress, lots of makeup, and big heels.
- Lennie almost chickens out, ducking into a side classroom, but then she tries to channel Bailey's confidence and walks into the band room.
- One problem: Joe dropped out of band.
- A story-poem starts the chapter, where Bailey, up in the sky, works some magic to make Lennie and Joe meet.
- After band practice, Sarah sends dressed-up Lennie to the Fontaine's house.
- Lennie hovers in the woods behind the house, trying to summon her nerve, and winds up watching Joe and his brothers through the window.
- They are practicing, but then Joe picks up the phone and talks to… Rachel. No…
- Lennie sees Toby knocking on their door, and panicking, she runs out.
- Lennie tries to apologize to Joe but can't think of what to say, so she blurts out that she's never seen Joe's bare feet before.
- Surprising exactly no one, this doesn't work, and Joe storms away.
- Toby drives Lennie home. He says he'd gone to Joe's house to try to get Joe to take Lennie back.
- Lennie thinks that Bailey loved her and Toby so much and maybe their attraction was about trying to bring a part of Bailey back.
- Lennie's poem is about how sometimes she's jealous of Sarah for having a real mom.
- No one is home. Lennie decides to finally take the boxes of Bailey's things up to the attic.
- She hates it up there—she thinks the abandoned things are sad, so she decides to at least put Bailey's things by the window.
- When moving something to a shelf, Lennie finds a non-dusty box full of unsent letters from Gram to her mother.
- Lennie reads the first few. One reveals that Paige used to sleep in the garden because she loved lilacs so much, while another references a pesto recipe that Paige once created.
- Lennie wants Bailey to know so much that she shouts these details up to the sky.
- Lennie wonders why Gram kept her mother from her, but then realizes thinking of her mother as a real person makes her feel even more abandoned.
- This poem is all despair; it describes Bailey's thoughts as "phantom."
- Days pass. Lennie can't stop dwelling on her sister's death and mother's abandonment. Eventually, Sarah makes her go to the movies.
- But in line for the movie, they spot Joe with Rachel.
- Joe looks at Lennie and deliberately puts his arm around Rachel. Harsh.
- Sarah and Lennie leave.
- Lennie decides to challenge Rachel for first chair.
- The poem that starts off this chapter isn't about Bailey. It's about someone who's lost in a different way—Joe—and it describes the first time they kissed.
- Sarah and Lennie are passing vodka back and forth, griping about the Joe situation.
- Lennie silently realizes she had been avoiding Sarah all this time because Sarah isn't Bailey; she resolves to be a better friend.
- Lennie gets the bright idea to use Gram's magic roses on Joe.
- She drunkenly sheers them all and takes them to Joe's house, but he's not there, and only his mom is.
- Joe arrives just as Lennie is about to leave. The flowers are already in a vase, though, so plan foiled.
- Joe is upset. He admits that he loves Lennie but he can't be with her because he keeps seeing her with Toby.
- Lennie says she loves him, but he can't understand how she could do that to him if she loves him.
- Then he says he can't be with someone who could do that to her sister. Which—we don't care if he's hurt—is a really messed-up thing to say.
- Lennie runs home where someone else is mad at her, Gram.
- Holding the garden shears dangerously close to Lennie's well-worn copy of Wuthering Heights, Gram yells at Lennie for cutting up her prize roses.
- Gram says Lennie has been very selfish—and not just about the roses. Gram says that losing Bailey was like losing her daughter, and that Lennie hasn't thought of her at all since Bailey's death.
- Lennie runs away.
- In this poem, Bailey gives Lennie wings and says it's time she learned to fly.
- Lennie doesn't get very far with the whole running away thing because she realizes she can't run after what Gram said to her, knowing that all Gram wants is to talk.
- She returns to Gram and apologizes. She says the houseplant isn't her any more, and that's why it's dying—she's someone else now.
- Gram says that she's someone else, too, and when she talks, Lennie listens.
- Gram hates how everyone keeps telling her that Bailey lives in her heart, as if it's any consolation for Bailey not actually being alive.
- Lennie starts cutting up Wuthering Heights; Gram joins her until it's in a million little pieces.
- The conversation turns to Joe. Gram says she's sure Bailey has forgiven Lennie, and she also thinks Joe is still in love with her.
- This chapter's poem tells the story of how Gram took Lennie to the doctor to have her heart checked out after Bailey died. When she found out her heart was fine, Lennie cried, because she wanted the same heart as her sister. One look at Lennie's tear-stained face told Gram that Lennie's heart was okay.
- Gram and Lennie finally have tea together; Lennie asks Gram to talk about her mom.
- Gram tries to explain that she told them the explorer story so they wouldn't blame or miss their mother.
- Lennie says that the truth would've been better than a story.
- Gram admits that Paige was definitely troubled, but the explorer thing wasn't a complete fake either—it was just as true as a diagnosis.
- Gram says she's been hiding something else. When Lennie's mom was threatening to leave her children with Gram, Gram told her that if she left, she could never come back.
- Lennie sees Gram's guilt and tells her it's not her fault.
- She also decides she's had her mom all along since Gram is basically her mother.
- Lennie decides that in the same way that Sarah is an existentialist, she's a "messistentialist," meaning she believes that there's never one truth or answer, just a bunch of stories getting in each other's way.
- Later that evening, while Lennie plays Joe's song again and again, Gram gives all her Paige letters to Lennie so she can read them.
- Lennie realizes that Gram's letters to Paige are a lot like her poems—they were written not knowing if anyone would read them.
- Toby and Lennie visit Bailey's grave. On the way, Toby apologizes and says he still wants to be part of Lennie's family; Lennie's cool with that.
- Apparently everyone's been going to Bailey's grave except Lennie. Toby says he was scared the first time he went, too, and that he'll help Lennie through it. (In a brother-like way, not a romantic way.)
- As if you haven't reached for tissues enough, this poem is about how a dead girl and her sister were far away and had trouble communicating, until the sister realized the dead girl could hear the music of her clarinet.
- Lennie very triumphantly tells Rachel that, come autumn, she's going to challenge her to first chair. Oh, and she's going back to Marguerite and will try out for All-States, too. Lennie's feeling good.
- But later, she feels terrible because she has a future and Bailey doesn't.
- Lennie realizes she's going to be like this for the rest of her life—she will never stop grieving Bailey because she will never stop loving her.
- Lennie goes to the forest bedroom, writes a love poem to Joe, and leaves it there.
- Lennie severely regrets writing that love poem, and as she recalls every word with mortification, she can't sleep.
- Sarah tries to console her, but the poem really was cheesy.
- Sarah says it might be okay, because Joe seems like a cheesy romantic in the same way she is.
- In a poem, Lennie talks to Bailey about Wuthering Heights. Bailey asks what she loves so much about that book, and Lennie admits that she wants to feel that kind of love—a love that is stronger than death.
- Lennie goes to the forest bed and feels stupid for waiting there.
- Joe shows up, and he has all of Lennie's poems with him—all the poems she's left around Clover, the ones that have been interspersed throughout our book.
- He explains that at first he stumbled across a couple of them, then he started looking for them. They made him understand what Lennie was going through more, and why she might've hooked up with Toby.
- At last. Lennie and Joe make up (and make out).
- Another dialogue without quotations: Lennie asks Bailey what it's like being dead, and Bailey says she is swimming in light with everyone she loves: Lennie, Gram, Big, Toby, and their Mom.
- This poem was written in Lennie's journal, instead of scattered to the wind.
- Gram and Lennie prep for Big's next wedding, and as they do, Gram reveals that she has a crush. Aw.
- Lennie goes to the cemetery. She's transcribed Gram's letters to their mother into a little notebook and puts it into a little cabinet in Bailey's headstone.
- Inside the cabinet, she finds Bailey's engagement ring and becomes sad.
- Then she takes the dead Lennie houseplant out of her backpack and pitches it over the edge of cliff.
- The epilogue is Lennie's poem with only a few lines ("I belong to you, I hear your soul in your music") showing, because every line is crossed out and the word "DILDONIC" is written across it. The note under the poem explains that it is framed under glass in Joe's dresser drawer.