Book Review # 30: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Number of Pages: 371
Date Published: September 16, 2014
Publisher: Dial Books
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars
A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell
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’ve never been attracted to marketing ploys, so that tagline really didn’t do anything for me. I also wasn’t beaming with joy after reading The Sky is Everywhere. The only thing that got me to read this book was the synopsis, and the usual amount of applause that went with it.
This novel has two POVs, one of 13 1/2 year-old Noah, and the other of 16-year old Jude. Noah talks about their blurry past, while Jude struggles with their present situation. Noah and Jude were very close, but a lot happened three years prior, and now the twins are far from being themselves. They are lost in grief, guilt, and frustration. What must they do to change things? Will they ever find their way back?
Bear with me here. It was a painful transition from interesting, to tiring, to bland. This book just wasn’t it for me. If anything, it was this huge ball of potential gone haywire due to a lot of factors. I would love to have this book up for discussion, but that’s another story. Here’s what I thought.
The Better Half
That was a very interesting plot. I mean, who could possibly resist a story about twins with themes of love and loss, and boy-next-door romances? Although it wasn’t entirely successful, I still liked the attempt to interlace the characters’ lives, to make them role players and contributors, and eventually fixers of their own emotional messes.
Art, everything about art: I am a total sucker for art. I take photos of walls, paintings, construction pieces, anything that makes me swoon. I love Noah’s self-portraits and G’s stone carvings. I love Jude’s sandwomen. I adore even the Michaelangelo references. Their ideas alone make me want to paint the house. This book glorifies art and its various forms (painting, sculpting), and for that I am grateful.
The emotions: Despite the flowery statements, I still felt grief, guilt, love, and loss. The emotions are there, no doubt about that. I am well aware of the twins’ difficulties. I can relate to bits and pieces of hate, and the undeniable love that overpowers it. It doesn’t stab through your organs, but pay no heed to more than the occasional verbiage, and I’m quite sure you’ll feel what is/should be in those pages.
What went wrong
Purple Prose: I had no issues with the writing style at first. The characters’ thoughts made me laugh, as did most of their witty exchanges, but after a chapter or two, the extremely long and hard-to-comprehend sentences seemed unnecessary. It was exhausting to read through long statements butchered with metaphors and artistic blurb. I don’t know. I confess. I’m guilty of skimming paragraphs.
Jude barfs bright blue fluorescent barf all over the table, but I’m the only one who notices.
My heart leaves, hitchhikes right out of my body, heads north, catches a ferry across the Bering Sea and plants itself in Siberia with the polar bears and ibex and long-horned goats until it turns into a teeny-tiny glacier.
Most of the time it’s “what the hell does that even mean?”, but I did like a bunch of cutesy paragraphs. See favorite quotes for reference.
Everything’s on the table: This is actually one of my biggest disappointments. Had the author focused on one or two things (the twins perhaps, with romance on the side?), it wouldn’t have been this big of a mess. Instead, there are too many conflicts to attend to – problems in the family, problems in school, siblings, dad, mom, friends, art, self, lovers(?) – man, that took a very huge toll on my concentration. I was panicking, not knowing if anything will ever be resolved. Well, most things did, but they were hardly polished.
Rushed: Did it feel rushed to you? To me, it did. I think Noah, Brian, and Zephyr got the short end of the stick.
So, there you have it. I hope I provided a fair number of good and not-so-good points. This book would not immediately come to mind should one ever ask me for a YA rec. However, readers have various preferences. Some of us might actually like flowery words and quirky teenagers. Who knows? Anyway, what did you think of this book? Please tell me I’m not the only one who gave it a 3-star rating. I would still recommend this book if you like art, oh and english boys with charming accents (what. erm, yeah. That came out of nowhere).
Favorite Quotes from I’ll Give You the Sun
“Okay”, she says. “Tress, stars, oceans, fine”. “And the sun, Jude”. “Oh all right”. She says, Totally surprising me. “I’ll give you the sun.”
“I love you,” I say to him, only it comes out, “Hey.”
“So damn much,” he says back, only it comes out, “Dude.”
He still won’t meet my eyes.”
Or maybe a person is just made up of a lot of people,” I say. “Maybe we’re accumulating these new selves all the time.” Hauling them in as we make choices, good and bad, as we screw up, step up, lose our minds, find our minds, fall apart, fall in love, as we grieve, grow, retreat from the world, dive into the world, as we make things, as we break things.
In one split second I saw everything I could be, everything I want to be. And all that I’m not.
what is bad for the heart is good for art. The terrible irony of our lives as artists.
No hot guy should be allowed to have an English accent and drive a motorcycle.
Not to mention wear the leather jacket or sport the cool shades. Hot guys should be forced into footie pajamas.