Published by Dial, Penguin on September 16, 2014
Genres: contemporary, young adult
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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.
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.