Number of Pages: 371
Publisher: Dial Books
Release Date: January 1, 2014
“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.”
If you’re looking for a summer book that will excite your heart, engage your mind, and fill you with emotion then look no further than I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. I listened to an audio book version of this on a long road trip, and I couldn’t stop! (And that’s really saying something, because the road trip was thirteen hours long!) The audio book itself is very well done- the voices of Jude and Noah sound authentic and are performed with plenty of emotion. There are a plethora of great aspects to this book, but for the sake of time I’ll only touch on a few of them here.
The alternating perspectives of Noah and Jude add so much depth and dimension to this story. I particularly like how Nelson plays around with time by making Noah thirteen years old in his narration and Jude sixteen years old in hers. It reminds me of the fluctuations in time in Anthony Doerr’s novel All the Light We Cannot See, which I absolutely LOVED. It’s undoubtedly more challenging to write plots like this with wonky timelines, but it creates such a fascinating effect if executed effectively. I love watching as the two separate plot lines unfold, knowing that the second one is a direct result of the first. In I’ll Give You the Sun, the reader isn’t aware of the exact events that occur between the distinct present tenses of Noah and Jude, and the mystery of it all is irresistibly intriguing.
Moreover, I love the way Noah and Jude change over time. From Noah’s early perspective we see that he was born artsy and Jude “normal”, whereas from Jude’s later perspective it’s evident that their roles have reversed. By the end of the book they have both balanced out and reached an equilibrium, most likely because they have shared similar experiences regarding their social statuses and identities. The character development is remarkable, so much so that the twins of the beginning would hardly recognize the twins of the last page.
Now, no love story is complete without a wonderful fictional guy, and I’ll Give You the Sun is no exception! Oscar, Jude’s love interest, is a made-up young man who deserves all of the praise in the world. Not only has he worked hard to overcome past addictions and rough patches in his life, but he is also such a kind, thoughtful human being. (SPOILER ALERT: The scene that most shows his incredible character is when he tells Jude that she’s too young for him to date at the moment- she’s sixteen and he’s nineteen- but that he will wait for her and they can be together when they’re both a bit older. What a lovely, loyal guy! END OF SPOILER ALERT) Plus, he’s a model- what more could you want?
As much as I enjoyed this novel, there are a few things that I think could use some improvement. One disappointment is that a large part of the story is fairly predictable. I correctly guessed the majority of the connections between Jude and Noah’s plot lines well before they were actually revealed, which doesn’t normally happen with me. Perhaps the reader is meant to realize these connections early on and the point of the story is to watch the characters discover everything on their own. However, it would have been nice if the connections were more cleverly disguised.
Also, some of the characters- particularly Noah- are really dramatic at times. (I mean, he’s thirteen! Realistically, he didn’t just find his soulmate.) And what thirteen year old is invited to a high school party and chugs beer? I’m sure there are a few out there in the real world who do, but they are not the majority. I think both of the perspectives should have been written from older points of view. For example, Noah could have been fifteen and Jude could have been eighteen instead of thirteen and sixteen, respectively. The fact that Noah is in middle school strikes me as really strange when considering the events he experiences. The presence of melodramatic characters quite a big pet peeve of mine, which explains why they immediately stood out to me.
Overall, this novel is a gorgeous example of how the YA contemporary genre can be meaningful, memorable, and immensely important. I’ll Give You the Sun discusses so many significant topics, such as loss, identity, growing up, family dynamics, and sexuality. It explores various aspects of romantic relationships (Noah is gay, Jude is straight) as well as the many relationship problems that can arise within families. This is a story with substance, a story that has great meaning and messages to deliver. It’s written with beautiful, almost artistic language, making it a delicious read for lovers of stories and words alike. Noah and Jude are undoubtedly odd, but there is something undeniably lovely in their uniqueness that we can all learn from, relate to, and appreciate.
My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) 4 out of 5 smileys.
Would I recommend it to a friend?: For sure!
Have you ever read this novel? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!