I’ll Give You the Sun – Jandy Nelson
Rating = 5/5 stars. All of the stars. And the sun and the ocean and the trees. All of it.
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.
I don’t even know where to start with this book. It was absolutely in my top 5 favorite & best books read in 2015. This book was everything. It was insightful, artistic, deep, emotional, colorful, and brilliant. I recommend this book to everyone. And read it with tissues.
Noah and Jude are not only interesting characters who you will feel for so passionately, they have amazing voices in this book. The way they tell their stories is captivating and emotional. Kudos to Jandy for making me care about them so much, and fleshing them out so much that they feel real. Both are well-rounded and have many layers. They have no one specific personality trait that defines them. To borrow from Whitman, they “contain multitudes.” We have Jude: a seemingly shallow girl who actually is constantly at war with herself and feels very deeply. She has artistic thoughts and talent, and never failed to surprise me with said thoughts and talent when I read this book. She is stuck in a less obvious way that Noah, who is having trouble coming out. Jude’s crux is that she isn’t leading the life she ought to be. She’s a bit of a fraud. She’s isolated herself from people even though she’s great with them, she’s in art school making things that don’t speak to or about her, and she’s not spekaing her mind nearly as often as she did when she was a child. But I love that she ended up being the weird artsy one who believed in spirits and wicca-like practices, while Noah tried to stay “normal” and all-american, so to speak.
And then we have Noah: a boy also at war with himself, who begins the book shy but still somehow wearing his emotions on his sleeve, and (arguably) becomes more outwardly emotional and easier to read than Jude. I loved Noah because he was just so very thoughtful. And a freaking hilarious kid! Not to say that Jude wasn’t thoughtful or funny though, but Noah was so very reflective and insightful and just trying to fit into the world even though he is precious and the world should try to be more like him! He, like Jude, has an interesting duality to his personality too. Where Jude is superficial on the outside but creative and quirky on the inside, Noah lets his quirkiness and weird qualities be known and isn’t afraid to do it because he doesn’t dislike those parts of himself. But he is afraid of the backlash of letting people really know about him and sexuality so that’s why he’s so shy compared to Jude, not because he’s superficial.. just anxious. Gah! Yeah… just incredibly intricately written and deep characters who are definitely flawed but it just makes them better and more real. omg.
And their relationship together! I was so angsty when they were apart! Because they make for some awesome twins! I just wanted them to resolve their issues and confide in one another and be in sync again and have their relationship be back on track! Because they were each others’ halves… they complimented each other so well and made up for what the other was lacking and called each other out on their bullshit and yeah. But the wait is worth it. I think they needed that time apart to understand themselves as individuals better. And to work through the trauma with their mom. And so they could learn to appreciate each other more. Yeah, it was just so well done. And because half of the book is spent in the past when they are friendly and together, that makes the half of the story when they are apart more heartbreaking. It also helps to have the story have both twins’ POV because then you aren’t taking sides or more in love with one or the other. Noah and Jude are both coming to terms with the fact they don’t necessarily fit the mental portrait they painted of themselves as young teenagers, and because they are going through this, they separate from one another in order to discover themselves.
Both Noah & Jude’s perspective love interests were incredible as well! Brian and Noah are a great LGBT couple (semi spoilers, btw?) who figure themselves out and learn to love each other and be themselves because its what makes them happy, and one’s happiness is the most important thing, not what other people think. I loved seeing them as children when they first meet each other and don’t understand what their feelings are, and then again later as teens when they have figured it out and are together (oh sweet lord that was both adorable and intoxicating yum) and then even later when they are missing each other because they are STUPID ugh. Their relationship was delicate, and therefore progressed slowly and took a while to be everything it deserved to be. And then there’s Oscar (and Jude). Ohhhh Oscar. I know that Jandy wrote him with the very obvious intent of making him swoon-worthy, and I don’t care. My swooning was spoon-fed to me, and I ate it up anyway. He and Jude are ridiculous and wonderful and hilarious and complicated and just… everything. I love their complicated nature because it didn’t have to be that way. Girl + boy = 4ever. But Jude is not a normal girl, and she is a stubborn girl. So it doesn’t go like most girls in her situation would have it go with Oscar. Granted, her past does warrant some trepidation against guys (boys can really suck!). And poor sweet Oscar is your stereotypical troubled brooding slightly older dude, but he just so obviously works well with Jude that I don’t even give a shit how slightly unoriginal his character is. But the relationship turned out to be authentic and original and interesting so yay.
The writing itself was stunning. So many quotable parts that could actually be used to help live real life… I found myself applying & thinking about a lot of the quotes from this book. But yeah, it was a great combination of enough storytelling to keep you invested, but it still held back some of the plot so that you were sufficiently emotional about the whole thing. That way when events and characters were revealed, you were gasping right along with the characters. It was a love story, but that was not the focus, which was SO refreshing. Because the love interests of Jude and Noah are important in their lives, so of course it’d be in their story, but it’s not the MOST important thing all the time, so it wasn’t the focus. It also was sometimes a randomly funny book, which was DEFINITELY needed what with all of the drama and feels going on!
It was just such a colorful book… I don’t know if that makes any sense but it was. It was vivid and sharp and colorful in its characters, storytelling, wording, everything.
I recommend this book to E V E R Y O N E. DO YOU HEAR ME?! EVERYONE READ IT NOW. NOW! You will not be disappointed.