Monday, August 3, 2015
Review: I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
Author: Jandy Nelson
Publisher: Walker Books
Published Date: 2 April 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia
From the author of The Sky Is Everywhere, a radiant novel that will leave you laughing and crying - all at once. For fans of John Green, Gayle Forman and Lauren Oliver.
Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close - until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them.
What the twins don't realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world. (summary from Goodreads)
Reading I'll Give You the Sun is like seeing the world in new and different ways. It's beautiful and painful, and totally worth it.
I'll Give You the Sun is a gorgeous piece of art. And yes, that's cliche of me to say considering art is such a huge element of this story, but there it is. That's the truth. There's no artwork here, just some pages splattered with what appears to be paint, some phrases written in brush strokes. What makes it art is Nelson's writing style. It's whimsical, lyrical, poetic - her words paint pictures in readers' imaginations. The inserts of Jude and her Grandmother's 'bible' and of Noah's self portrait titles are simple yet impacting. They're this amazing and original look inside the minds of these characters that say so much with so little. I didn't need images of artwork - of either Noah's paintings, Jude or Guillermo's sculptures, or Oscar's photography - because Nelson's descriptions portrayed them perfectly. Colours, images, and art come to life throughout I'll Give You the Sun, and that's why this book is a piece of art. Even more so, the emotion of her characters, of the art they're putting so much of themselves into, of their journeys, resonate in much the same way. First loves, grief, loss, heartbreak, anger, fear, betrayal, understanding, happiness - I'll Give You the Sun has it all, and Nelson ensures we experience them along with Jude and Noah. This book was a real rollercoaster for me. Early on I admit to being a little judgemental, as I was frustrated by the things Jude and Noah were doing to each other and I wanted to scream "you're only 13!!", because as a 31 year old reader, I feel I had the benefit of 'knowing better', as it were. But even then it works, because that's part of Nelson's point. We can't always see beyond ourselves and what we're feeling in the moment. How Nelson portrays this through Noah's past point of view at almost 14 years of age, and Jude's present point of view at 16 years, is another amazing thing about this book. The links and the way she connects characters and actions is all sorts of awe inspiring. There's so much broken throughout this story, but bit by bit Nelson puts it back together and it's heartfelt and wonderful, and through it all there's this touch of destiny to it, that this is the way it's meant to be, that has you smiling at the end.
I fell in love instantly and entirely with Noah. His chapters moved me just that little bit more. I hated the Jude of his chapters, so when it came to reading Jude's point of view, it was harder to reconcile the two and it took longer for me to connect with Jude's story. But when I did, I really did. Her story hurt my heart. Jude's chapters also made obvious early on certain twists though, so some plot elements weren't quite as shocking as maybe they were meant to be later on in the book, unfortunately. It's the relationship between Noah and Jude, their ups an downs, that really hit hard. Their bond is so unique and special, and it's terrible - and annoying! - how simple miscommunications and misunderstandings, how the irrationality of jealousy, can damage them. From start to finish this ball of dread sat in the middle of my chest, waiting to find out exactly how everything went wrong and hoping there's a way to put it all back together right again. Nelson has portrayed the best and worst of sibling relationships to a T. I'll Give You the Sun also has some interesting secondary characters that standout. Brian and Oscar are great love interests (for Noah and Jude, respectively. No love triangles here, yay!), though a little cliche. Brian is the stereotypical secretly gay athlete with depth and Oscar the stereotypical bad boy, but their relationships with Noah and Jude are perfectly filled with the right amount of tension and swoon. I like the adults of Nelson's book, the twin's parents and Guillermo. These characters are flawed and not as they seem, and it's moving to read how their mistakes, their actions, impact Noah and Jude. By far my favourite character though is Grandma. We all need her quirkiness and wisdom to enrich our lives, I think - even if she is dead. Trust me, read the book and you'll know what I mean.
I'll Give You the Sun is a book that will have your feels leaking all over the place, and by the end, you'll find yourself satisfyingly content.