“I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson
Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.
This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.
Just before I had started to read this book, I had realized how much I’d been dishing out 5*s for different books and decided it was time to get serious and not give away that rating so easily. So when I started reading, I tried to keep that thought in mind and put on my micro-vision specs, determined to find at least one flaw with this book. The more I read, the more desperate I grew. I ended up fighting a battle in my mind as I gave I’ll Give You the Sun 5*s and adding it to my ‘all time favourites’ shelf on Goodreads because it is a literary masterpiece.
I’ll Give You the Sun is written in alternating points of view, switching back and forth between the perspective of a 13 year old Noah and 16 year old Jude. When I got to the second chapter and realized that the rest of the book would be written in this way, I grew skeptical. I didn’t mind the switching perspectives, but it was the time-gaps between those perspectives that made me jot down a little too quickly in my notebook “three year gap between Noah and Jude’s perspectives may confuse the reader”. I was too keen on finding something wrong with this book to notice until I was much farther along the story that this style actually enhanced the story being told.
I’ll Give You the Sun is really two different stories being told in one novel. We follow both twins on their journey, and the dual perspectives really helped me, as the reader, to understand both characters on a higher level than I would’ve if it had been written in third-person/one character’s POV. You read one chapter, exploring young Noah’s story and immediately after, you turn the page to Jude’s world who has her own views to share, fast-forwarded three years into the future. It wasn’t in any way overwhelming (as I had secretly hoped it would be) but it was this style of writing it that really drew me in to their world.
We exhale together, then inhale together, exhale, inhale, in and out, out and in, until not even the trees remember what happened in the woods yesterday, until Mom and Dad’s voices turn from mad to music, until we’re not only one age, but one complete and whole person.
Jandy Nelson’s writing style is really what made this book a favourite for me. I’ve read reviews by others who found her use of long, complex sentences, artistic metaphors and vivid descriptions too much to keep up with. But when I grasped the understanding of who exactly these characters, I came to realize the story couldn’t have been written as beautifully any other way. The writing style brought these characters to life. When writing a character in first-person point of view, it gives the reader a chance to delve into the minds of the characters themselves. That’s exactly what Jandy Nelson allows us to do. It’s a good thing.
Which brings me to the actual characters. Noah and Jude have to be the most…brilliantly written teenage characters I have read…possibly ever! They are so flawed and beautifully written that my heart was torn all ways while reading this story. I think that’s what makes them all the more real. I could relate to these characters without actually having to go through exactly what they went through, because of how effectively their personalities and struggles came through to me as a reader. This book didn’t fail in that aspect.
Other themes explored include family, relationships and love, acceptance and the whole process we all go through of growing up. They are illustrated in an eye-opening manner in this novel.The love stories we encounter in I’ll Give You the Sun include LGBT themes. I haven’t read many novels with gay relationships and when I have, I haven’t really fallen in with the love story being told – at least not the way I did for this book. It presents a very realistic take of how relationships are like in the teenage years – in a way we can all relate to.
I think it’s safe for me to say that I’ll Give You the Sun is possibly the most literary YA novel I have read to date.
It is beautiful.
It touched my soul.
It had me feeling inspired.
It did things to my feels in a way that no book has ever done before (I am not exaggerating here).
I highly recommend this novel to every human being on the planet.