I’ll Give You The Sun – Jandy Nelson

SunFrom Goodreads.com: 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.

Published: September 2014

Why I Chose It: I was really curious about the format of the story, with each twin telling only half the story at different times.

The Review:

Noah was adorable in the beginning of the book. At 13 he’s very innocent, and filled with dreams of the world. More than anything he wants to get into the prestigious art school. I loved how happy he was, and how open he was to the world around him. He absorbed everything and turned it into art, and reading his narrative was an amazing journey, because it was filled with such beauty.

Jude’s narrative was so different that at first I didn’t like her. At 13 the twins are a joint unit, barely inseparable. Yet in Jude’s narrative at 16, they’re not speaking to one another at all. Both are angry and bitter and are in two completely different worlds. As Jude blames herself for this change, it’s easy to dislike her. Plus I didn’t like her observations of 16-year-old Noah either, and it made me sad that 13-year-old Noah grew into this new version.

Yet as the two narratives work their way towards each other, I began to understand more of what happened, and I began to love both characters even more for who they become, both together and separately. These are two beautiful characters who go through some bad things, and I loved the amount of humanity in both of them.

The strategy of having a set of twins narrate the same story from points 3 years away from each other was brilliant. I think Nelson was so skilled in the way she wove this story and connected these characters – there wasn’t a plot “line,” there was a plot “web!” I am very impressed with how she managed Jude’s character in the future, when Jude knows what happened in the past, and yet Nelson dances around the subject and never outright tells the reader. The history of what actually happened is revealed slowly throughout the narrative, and I really liked how it came together at the end. A lot of thought went into the story, and I found it made the revelation at the end that much more meaningful.

sun2

The art in the book was absolutely amazing. I was very impressed with the amount and quality of art description in the book. I didn’t know that a book could describe visual art in words so well, and yet I thought this book did it perfectly. I was constantly in wonder at the beauty that I was reading. Noah’s narrative was filled with “self portraits” that he imagined, and perfectly captioned what was happening to him or around him, and often how he emotionally felt about the situation: “(Self-Portrait: A Window Flies Open in My Chest)” (p 12). Jude too had an interesting way of looking at art, and I really liked that she had this urgent sense about her, this desperation to get the art perfect to what she saw in her head. I really loved how intense some of the art was in the novel.

Was this book perfect? No. My largest concern lies in the end of the book, where everything is wrapped up very neatly in a pretty red bow – it was just a little too neat for my liking. And yet I was willing to overlook that issue because I loved how this book made me feel. There was heartache and sadness and love and happiness and it was just such an interesting read too. I also have to say that there are a lot of metaphors and art descriptions, which obviously isn’t for everyone. I personally loved it, but I can understand how a person might get sick of them fast. I really do recommend this book for anyone who loves the arts (writing, painting, sculpting, everything), and for those who like to read about how a family learns to be just that – a family.

Rating: 5 / 5

Quotations:

“[Dad’s] not buying it. Because he’s an artichoke. This, according to his own mother, Grandma Sweetwine, who never understood how she birthed and raised such a thistle-head. Me neither.” p 8

“I’m having a hand problem. How come everyone else seems to know what to do with them? Pockets, I remember with relief, pockets, I love pockets! I slip the hands to safety, avoiding his eyes. […] My hands are totally and completely trapped now. Pockets are hands jails.” p 84-85

“Male leads in love stories need to be devoted, need to chase trains, cross continents, give up fortunes and thrones, defy convention, face persecution, take apart rooms and break the backs of angels, sketch the beloved all over the cement walls of their studios, build sculptures of giants as homages.” p 204

 

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