Title: I’ll Give You the Sun
Author: Jandy Nelson
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Publication Date: September 16th, 2014
Publisher: Dial Books
Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You The Sun is a quirky, heartfelt, and redeeming read. Going in I wasn’t sure what to expect—I had heard great things but didn’t get much from the description. But only two chapters in and I was hooked.
The story is told through the perspectives of twins Jude and Noah at different points of their lives. It allowed some mystery because Jude and Noah’s personalities completely change between the ages of thirteen and sixteen. When young the twins were inseparable, three years later they barely talk. I kept reading trying to figure out what happened to them—the change made me completely addicted. And then when you figure out all the connections towards the end and understand the events that play out it’s mind blowing. I started to put it together before Nelson explicitly tells you, but still it’s so genius.
Then there’s the incorporation of art. The descriptions given of Noah and Jude’s artwork are magical. There’s no other way to describe it. Everything they created just seemed magical.
Noah appears to be the artist of the family. At the age of thirteen he has a wild imagination and draws nonstop. He also falls in love with the boy next door. He’s like no other character I’ve read. He thinks of things in a completely different way and I loved it. Nelson’s writing only amplified his character sneaking in some weird images and allegories. But then when we see him through Jude’s eyes at sixteen Noah is completely different. He hangs out with the popular crowd that once bullied him, he drunk dives off cliffs, and has given up his art.
Jude changes from a thirteen-year-old wearing beautiful homemade dresses and flirting with boys to a sixteen-year-old that’s ridiculously superstitious, wears baggy sweats, and keeps everyone at a distance. At thirteen I found her a little annoying, but I loved the chapters where she was older. She carries around her dead grandmother’s Bible, which isn’t an actual Bible but a book she filled with weird superstitions and rules she had thought of or had been told. And she keeps to it. She believes she’s haunted by ghosts and has completely introverted herself. I thought she was so compelling.
The supporting cast was just as heartwarming. Oscar the cute Brit is a little bit of a stereotype, but at the same time he is funny, troubled, and lovable. Pair him with Guillermo Garcia—the mysterious sculptor that becomes Jude’s mentor—and it’s absolute perfection.
My only negative was that I felt some of the Noah chapters dragging. I often found myself skimming just trying to get to Jude.
I’ll Give You The Sun is a truly great coming of age novel. It deals with grief, blame, love, loss and discovering the world isn’t black or white. You can find it on Amazon and the author at jandynelson.com. Give it a read and let me know what you think in the comments. Plus leave recommendations for my next book!