I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Dial Books; First Edition first Printing edition (September 16, 2014)
Amazon Book Description: 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.
Reading Sara Review: This is one of those books that I know I will think about in years to come because of the lovely and unique way the story was told, the beautiful flawed characters and the redemption that comes from setting the truth free. As cheesy as it is, I laughed and cried and felt deep emotions for these characters, and that is a feeling that I will not easily forget.
As the description notes, Jude and Noah, fraternal twins, only have one side of the story, and it is told alternating from their point of view and in different time periods. They are teenagers, coming-of-age, learning who they want to be, who their real friends are and learning that every action comes with consequence. The story is a mystery, because the reader does not know how things unfold, how everything became so complicated until the time periods come together.
I loved reading Noah’s POV. His artistic passion came out at every scene, his conflicted heart and desires were right there on the page. It felt like with his artist’s eye, he could really see through people (most especially Jude), he knew when they were closed off, sad or something else entirely. Rather than speaking with other people, he used his drawings. I know that some critics of this book felt that the artistic metaphors go completely over the top, and honestly, who knows if a 13 year old boy would be that advanced in his artistic expression, but I did not mind. I thought it was a unique form of expression for a book to describe art in this way, and I felt like I could see the art each time in my mind (when you read it, you will know what I mean!). I knew what each drawing, sketch, sculpture or painting looked like just from the words, and that is really amazing writing.
This book is in the young adult category, but the themes and characters are much deeper than many young adult novels go to. The bond between the twins is deep and certainly a primary theme throughout the book. The bond is not always positive though – because Jude and Noah associate themselves so much with one another, that association can come with jealousy, hurt and misplaced anger as well as the pride, love and friendship.
This book is so real – about families, secrets and teenage angst – but on the other side, it’s magical (no, not in the Harry Potter sense), but magical in the ghosts, the prophesies and the worlds colliding seemingly unintentionally, but it most certainly was some form of magic, was it not?
The story did end pretty perfectly, which I hope is not a spoiler, but I feel like it should be a warning, because a lot of people do not like their novels with everything tied up in a bow. I hope instead that the happy ending proves that secrets have a way of coming out, and the anticipation and worry is often much worse than the actual result.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book (no spoilers!)
“Everything is true at once. Life is contradiction. We take in every lesson. We find what works.”
“We were all heading for each other on a collision course, no matter what. Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.”
“Who knows if there are ghosts or just the living, breathing memories of your loves ones inside you, speaking to you, trying to get your attention by any means necessary?”