I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson / My rating: ★★★★★
One sentence summary: At age 13 Noah is the outcast and Jude is the popular twin, and by age 16, after a series of betrayals and secrets, it’s the opposite.
This is how he came out: He floated into the air high above the sleeping forest, his green hat spinning a few feet above his head. In his hand was the open suitcase and out of it spilled the whole sky of stars.
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary
THIS BOOK HURT ME. I mean, it was fantastic, but THE TURMOIL I WENT THROUGH. This book may look cheerful on the outside but it caused me 803 different kinds of pain. I’ll Give You the Sun threads the stories of twin brother and sister Noah and Jude, who have always been immensely close growing up. Noah tells the story of their earlier years, during which he’s an artistic outcast and Jude is the popular “normal” one. Jude tells the story of the later years, when Jude is the artistic outcast and Noah is the popular “normal” one.
These alternating point of views weave together a story of love and jealousy and heartache, brought about by misunderstandings and miscommunications- which sounds pretty standard, right? But jumping back and forth in the timeline was a brilliant move. I wasn’t really sure where the story was going to end up, how the reversal of these two characters would occur, until over halfway through, and I loved seeing how it all pieced together. I admit, I wasn’t sure I’d make it to the end when the characters kept making these SPITEFUL choices that chipped a piece of my heart off every time, but I made it through and am very glad I did. I was not prepared for my heart to be torn to shreds. I loved it, but dang.
I loved Noah and Jude, and I wanted to take them by their collars and tell them to be kind to one another. I thought the reversal of their characters was fantastic. I started out liking one, and ended the novel favoring the other. They had very unique voices, were so extremely flawed, and I found things to sympathize with in both of them. I also loved how the relationships they had with their parents were also turned on their heads. At the beginning of the novel, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy that aspect of the story so much.
The romantic interests were also great, funny and fun and full of their own heartaches. And Guillermo, the troubled stone carver – how can you not love Guillermo?
Ahhh, the writing. The narration is from the point of view of two artists, so, likewise, the prose is very colorful and rather flowery. I found Noah’s chapters to be fluid and poetic, while Jude’s are a bit choppier and eccentric. I liked what this showed me about their characters, and I thought it established the differences in their voices very well. The writing did take some time to grow on me, however, but by the end I really enjoyed it. It was very imaginative; it held a great sense of magical realism, and it there were some sequences that knocked me out I loved them so much.
Was I satisfied? I was. I loved this book. I suffered, but I’m happy about it (well, maybe. But I did love it).