Book Review: I’ll Give You The Sun

Posted February 7, 2015 by Pixie in book review, Pixie / 8 Comments

Book Review: I’ll Give You The SunI'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Published by Dial, Penguin on September 16, 2014
Genres: contemporary, young adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon

The New York Times Bestselling 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 received this book for free from BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

You’re probably all going to yell at me for this one: I’m sort of the black sheep when it comes to this book. So I’m going to be blunt and just be quick here like ripping off a band-aid. I thought I’ll Give You The Sun was just… okay.

I know, I know. It’s only got about a gazillion rave reviews. And pretty much everyone I know that has read it has practically screamed from the rooftops that it’s not to be missed. I tried. I really did. The writing is beautiful. There is no doubting that. And there is a story there. I just didn’t feel what everyone else felt. In fact, to be perfectly honest, I felt bored a majority of the time. I kept finding myself easily distracted away from the book or wanting to set it down, and that just wasn’t a good sign when it came down to it.

This was my first foray into Jandy Nelson’s work. Maybe another issue for me after having a lengthy discussion with a friend of mine. She advised that I probably would like her other work a lot better than this piece, and her knowing my reading style, I trust that. As I said, I’ll Give You The Sun wasn’t bad, and there were times I did find myself emotionally invested, but many times I would get pulled away. My biggest problem was the back-and-forth with the timeline, I believe, and it caused a detachment with the characters. I’m such a character driven person that once I feel like I’ve lost my attachment, I feel like I’ve lost a large piece of my enjoyment of the story along with them. It was a struggle at times. The rollercoaster of emotions. Or perhaps that was Nelson’s intention all along.

I did feel a lot of sympathy pour out of me and into the pages as I read along. I just wish I could have liked it as much as some of my fellow readers do. There were long pages, and chunks of text where I just felt very blah also though—where I didn’t feel anything for any of it, and almost set it down out of sheer boredom and didn’t want to continue. I know that must sound awful. I can’t apologize for my opinion either.

It starts out with the Noah being bullied at a young age. He is admittedly gay and very different from his peers, different from his own twin sister, Jude. He notices the difference in himself. His family notices. Others notice. But there’s something else that makes him stand apart. He’s an amazing artist. I love the emphasis on art throughout. I liked the introduction. It was a hook right into the issues and I knew from the beginning who I wanted to root for as far as getting a (hopefully) happy and well-deserved good ending.

But as time progressed and the (crazy) flip-flop of the timeline goes, being the reader and interpreting the growing issues as well as seeing everything playing out through each character, I was at a crossroads. There was no particular character to really root for I realized. We are just reading about these two characters, I felt like, and their very different lives despite the same family they come from. With their own separate issues that you sympathized with each in your own ways. Still, I was left deflated at the end. By then I wasn’t left shouting from the rooftops. I was just left nodding, and deciding to get Nelson’s other work. It was beautiful writing, indeed, with a strong story. I liked the ending best, with Noah and Jude, and how everything resolved well enough (I won’t tack in any details due to spoilers). I’m just sorry I could not join the adoring crowd with this book this time around.



8 responses to “Book Review: I’ll Give You The Sun

  1. Oh I’m so sorry you didn’t love this one. I can understand why the back and forth with the different characters and timelines could be a little off-putting. This was my first experience with a Jandy Nelson novel. I really loved this one.
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  2. Carole Soden

    Couldn’t agree more with your comments on I’ll Give You The Sun and
    This One Summer. The first was interesting but the latter was awful
    (Except for the art).

    One of my students asked me, “Why do adults keep writing this ‘coming of age’ crap and think that we will like it? I didn’t even like one single character.”

    I realized that I didn’t either. Don’t think there will be a rush for either of these books in my library.

  3. I know exactly how you feel. There were times where I could feel that there is supposed to be that oomph! and that fellow readers found it, but I couldn’t. It was just bleh. Mediocre, despite the great story and characters and writing which is so weird. 😐
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  4. I guess this goes to show even more that a good book isn’t for everyone! Especially for this book, since it’s been getting so much positive feedback that I think this is the first three-star review I’m seeing of it. O_O Don’t worry, I was the same with The 5th Wave. Everyone loved it, but I didn’t. Us black sheep are cool, yo. We don’t follow the flow. xD

    Oh man, I have a horrible attention span… even when it comes to reading, which I’m supposed to love. That, and my picky nature as a reader. Not the best combination tbh. So if you felt bored for the most part, chances are I’ll probably feel the same, too. Though I usually make sure I’m at least 5% into the story before I give up. (Is that generous? No idea, haha.)

    Timeline jumps are SO hard to do. So. Freaking. Hard. Only a handful of authors can write them well, and same goes for multiple POVs as well. Otherwise, like you said, the reader just ends up feeling detached from the characters… which happens to me almost 99% of the time — especially when it comes to the several POVs thing. So it’s not really a surprise that the flashbacks didn’t go so well here. I’m like you — I need to connect with the characters in order to fully enjoy the book.

    Sorry you didn’t like this as much as others did, Pixie! Now beginning to rethink if I want to buy this book. The cover is perfection though and I wouldn’t mind owning it just for that, haha. Great review!
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