I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
4.5 stars because of the insta-”split-aparts”-love and because it wrapped up just a little too nicely at the end. But I don’t really care because I loved it.
Twins Noah and Jude are sometimes more like NoahandJude – two halves of the same soul. But as they get older and start to face what it means to be a teenager and to realize that your parents aren’t perfect, NoahandJude starts to fission, a wedge slowly forcing them apart.
I’ll Give You the Sun is told from both Noah and Jude’s perspectives, but in different timelines. Noah’s story begins when the twins are 13; Jude’s when they’re 16. And slowly, their stories start to come together and only then can they understand the truth.
There’s a heavy influence on art and metaphor, and the writing definitely reflects that. It’s artsy and lyrical and reminiscent of magical realism, and I absolutely loved it. Especially from Noah’s POV:
“I love you,” I say to him, only it comes out, “Hey.”
“So damn much,” he says back, only it comes out, “Dude.”
I just really loved Noah and how he saw the world, how he would paint everything in his mind (SELF-PORTRAIT: Boy Rowing Madly Back Through Time), and his angst of growing up and staying true to yourself and falling in love and the jealousy of siblings. And I really, really wanted to see his artwork.
“We were all heading for each other on a collision course, no matter what. Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.”
And then there’s Jude, who walks with the ghosts of her family, who carries onions in herpocket to avoid serious illnesses, who creates sculptures out of sand.
They see the world differently, but they’re both haunted by their various demons, and they need one another in ways they don’t understand. And they make mistakes. They’re selfish and cruel and jealous, and make poor decisions out of anger. But they’re teenagers, and what teenagers don’t do those things?
Also, Guillermo Garcia is one of my favorite mentor-type characters ever.
As for the story, the twist with their mother was predictable, but it set up a nice catalyst for Noah’s revelations about himself, his family, and what it means to love.
Jude’s love story was a little too perfect, the ending a little too happy, but there’s definitely magic in this contemporary, and I simply adored it.