Book Review: I’ll Give You The Sun

Posted November 30, 2014 by Kara in book review / 5 Comments

Book Review: I’ll Give You The SunI'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Published by Dial on September 16th, 2014
Genres: coming of age, contemporary, young adult
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon

A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell

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.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long time. I absolutely loved The Sky is Everywhere when I read it years ago; I’ve reread it like five times. I’m obsessed. I’ll Give You the Sun was in my top three to pick up at BEA – in fact, it was the first book I grabbed on the first morning. So I’ve been sitting on it since May and it’s been glaring down at my from my shelf for all this time. I was nervous and scared. How could anything live up to The Sky is Everywhere? For me, at least, it didn’t. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t love it. I did. It had the same Jandy Nelson flavor, some of the same themes as her first book, and overall was a beautiful, ethereal experience.

The first think you need to know about Jandy Nelson’s books is that her writing is gorgeous, and very, very poetic. It’s like taking all the colors and songs in the world and turning them into a novel. She blends just a smidgen of magical realism into her books, and this element really works with the feelings her writing evokes. I know some people will be put off from the colorful language and the expressive metaphors, but these things work for me and that’s what makes her one of my favorite writers.

Nelson’s characters are… wild. They are so vibrant and kind of kooky and out of this world. Reading from Noah’s point of view… it’s been a long time since a character felt so real to me. He’s a thirteen year old boy and a visual artist and as such, there wasn’t a whole lot of ground for me to relate to him, but I still loved him. I wanted to give him an enormous hug and promise him everything was going to be okay. I wanted to protect him. Jude just kind of leaped off the page. She was so, so angry, but wanted so badly to not be angry anymore. She had her strange superstitions, her guilt, her art. All of these things propelling her forward and holding her in place at the same time. The side characters – Oscar, Brian, and Guillermo – they just filled up the space to the brim. These characters made the world of IGYTS seem real. I felt like I knew them, that I was part of their family, that these were my friends.

Ohhh the romances. Talk about swooning from all sides here. Noah’s budding relationship with Brian was full of all kinds of firsts – the tension of “Does he like me back?”; the explosiveness of “Wow, he does.” They navigated this strange terrain with one another, and hit more than a few bumps in the road. Nelson really captured that sweet, painful longing of first love. I felt it in my knees. And Oscar! Those looking for fluffy banter, tons of flirting, and happy endings, look no further. I couldn’t help but feel squealy and swoony myself when I read the passages between Oscar and Jude. I didn’t think Nelson could top Joe Fontaine, but I think she did. This ship, you guys. Words cannot explain my feelings. They were just so perfect for one another. I need more!

One thing that actually really bothered me was the chapter sectioning. The narration was divided into two points of view and two timelines: Noah, when the twins were thirteen, and Jude, when they were sixteen. This part was totally fine and I had no trouble distinguishing the two voices. In fact, I thought Nelson did this perfectly, balancing the fact that, as twins, they would definitely sound the same, with giving them each their own voice outside of each other. No matter how close they were, they were still two separate characters. However, each ‘chapter’ varied in length too wildly for me. The first chapter was 50 pages. The next was over 100. They were interminably long, and I felt that the book would have moved much faster if the chapters had been shorter. Even having the same POV for a number of chapters would have been better than the way it was set up. Because of this, the book felt really slow at some part. And the chapters cut off right at the height of the tension! Talk about a tease.

Jandy Nelson knows how to write a book. Her characters are real people, who make huge mistakes and make bad decisions and suffer horrible consequences because of this. Her writing is colorful and vivid, lyrical. It sucks you and really makes you feel everything the characters are feeling. Readers of contemporary would do well to pick up I’ll Give You the Sun. You will feel fear, you will feel heartbreak, and you will feel joy.


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