Book Review: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK.
Jude and Noah are twins, both of them artists. They are both extremely close and yet full of competitive at times raging jealousy of one another. They compete for their mother’s approval and affection. They compete for a spot at a prestigious art school. They compete for friends. And yet some times they feel like they may be two parts of one whole. They love and hate each other fiercely. And they do the most horrific things to each other. But it always comes back to the love.
This book is beautifully written. Nelson uses words like a paintbrush, bringing each sentence to life in ways that mirrors the intense passion of her characters. Both Noah and Jude get a chance to tell their story with their distinct voices and points of view. Each forced to confront very stark realities of who they are, what they have done, and what they have lost. Each forced to whisper secrets to the air in order to find forgiveness, not just from each other but from inside themselves. Each must find a way to embrace who they really are. They see the people around them and describe them as “hurricane hearted”. Others as missing buttons or having horses that gallop through them. Emotions, people, the world around them, both characters see this all through very artistic lenses and the narrative bursts with the most beautiful language, the most intense feelings, and the most passionate narrators.
As for the story itself, there is love, there is betrayal, there is sabotage, there is anger, there is loss and confusion. There is joy and there is sadness and when you get to the end, you want nothing more than for Noah and Jude to find joy once more. I loved each character. Even when they were full of rage and selfishness and bitterness, I was rooting for them to dig themselves out of this pit they were plunging into. And there are some other cool characters we meet along the way, including (possibly) the ghost of their beloved grandmother.
For me, this is one of the best books I have read in 2014. Probably on my top all time list as well. It’s well constructed, well developed, and well written. It is, to be on theme, an artistic masterpiece.
Publisher’s Description: A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell
Jude and her brother, Noah, are incredibly close twins. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude surfs and 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 divisive ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as an unpredictable new mentor. 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, fully alive, sometimes very funny novel from the critically acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.
Coming in September 2014 from Dial books. ISBN: 978-0803734968
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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