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.
Oh mama. Where to start? Let me just get one thing off of my chest: Jandy Nelson, the rumours are true: I love you. You are wonderful and you give me all the feels. Now I’ve had my little moment, I hope that we’ll be able to make it through the rest of this review without too much gushing sentimentality. Can’t make any promises though.
So, what did I like about this book, besides absolutely everything? For me, the very best thing about I’ll Give You The Sun is Jandy Nelson’s writing. She manages to strike the perfect balance between description and dialogue, and the way that she switches between Jude and Noah’s perspectives was close to seamless, despite one perspective happening when Noah is 13 and one when Jude is 16. Props to her, because that’s a pretty ambitious structure to try and pull off.
Speaking of the writing style, let’s be straight up here. I’ve seen a few negative reviews based on the fact that this book is absolutely crammed to the rafters with artistic metaphors. The prose is poetic, and Nelson is clearly an imaginative writer. This sort of thing gets my engine going, but that’s the sort of reader that I am. I understand that for lots of people, her writing is just too heavy on the flowers and fairies.
“Mom picks up a knife and thrusts it into his gut, twists. Dad forges on, oblivious.”
“He floated into the air high above the sleeping forest, his green hat spinning a few feet above his head. In his hand was the open suitcase and out of it spilled a whole sky of stars.”
“Her face slides off her face – no one can keep their faces on today – and the one underneath is desperate.”
“Jude barfs bright blue fluorescent barf all over the table, but I’m the only one who notices.”
See what I mean? It’s a love or hate kinda thing.
I thought the characterisation was exceedingly good, and I forged strong attachments to the protagonists throughout the course of reading the book. Despite Noah and Jude being twins, Nelson manages to give them distinct personalities which painted them (ha, no pun intended) as completely individual people. Nelson is exceedingly good at creating human characters, and Noah and Jude’s quirks made them unique and interesting. Characters with less page time, like Brian and the twins’ parents, I found to be nuanced and complex.
Here’s the part where I disclose that I do actually have a teeny, tiny problem: Oscar was insta-love to the nth degree. Don’t get me wrong chaps, he is totally the sort of boy I would jump head first over a cliff for if I wasn’t happily boyfriend-ed, but that is precisely the problem. Every girl on the planet (and definitely some dudes) would fancy a bit of Oscar. There’s nothing unique or exciting about his character: a brooding, dark haired, piercing eyed, witty, gorgeous voiced, handsome, British bad boy who with the right kinda love, turns over a new leaf. You could pick him up from the pages of this particular book and slot him into any number of contemporary YA romance novels. In the face of Brian and Noah’s relationship, Jude and Oscar fell flat for me. Also, I hate to break it to ya, but British dudes are really not all they’ve cracked up to be. SOZ.
I have minimal constructive criticism to make about this book. It was touching homage to first love, loss and the complexity of being part of a family. I devoured it one sunny Sunday afternoon, and my singular frustration over and above bemoaning insta-love Oscar would be with myself. I was too greedy and didn’t make it last: kind of like inhaling a delicious donut and then feeling really, really sad.
- Author: Jandy Nelson
- Release Date: September 2014
- Pages: 371
- Rating: 4.5/5
- For fans of: YA, John Green, contemporary, romance, LGBT+ story lines, family dramas.