Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You The Sun (the book that’s everything): Book Review

I'll Give You the SunPhoto on 6-11-2014 at 4.18 pm

What a perfect, perfect novel. If I’m ever able to write a story as amazing as this and string together words the way Jandy Nelson does, I will consider myself extremely honoured and lucky. But really, if I have that goal in mind I’d better start writing instead of sleeping because hell, no way that’s gonna happen. Jandy Nelson is a unique and wonderful writer, and there will never be anyone like her. I really want to know how she does it.

I’ve been so excited to read I’ll Give You The Sun since before it even existed. That’s how much I loved The Sky Is Everywhere. I just knew that when Jandy Nelson published another novel, it was going to be incredible and beautiful and amazing. My copy had been sitting on my to-read shelf for a few weeks before I got the chance to start reading it on Tuesday (as I was waiting for the opportune time when there was nothing else on to begin my venture into the world of NoahandJude). The wait was definitely worth it.

I don’t really know how to start explaining just how wonderful I’ll Give You The Sun is. I’m coming to the point where I’m beginning to see that I’m rather crap at writing reviews because I can never reach any stage that properly explains how and why I truly loved the book I’m reviewing. But I will do my best here, even though this novel will probably deserve a better review than this.

I love the way I’ll Give You The Sun is structured, swapping from Noah to Jude’s point of view and skipping back and forth from when they were 13/14 (Noah’s sections) to when they’re 16 (Jude’s sections). Noah’s chapters, titled The Invisible Museum, begin the story, and Jude’s last chapter, all titled The History of Luck, ties the story up. It was remarkable and the perfect way to tell the twins’ story of tragedy, love and family. This structure shows how Noah and Jude only know half the story, their own versions, and it’s only through coming back together (as throughout what we are given, they’re mostly fallen out/not speaking to each other) that they (and we) can learn the whole story. The way everything fits together is…just perfect.

The story itself is wonderful. And this is the point I could go extremely spoiler-y but I’ll resist. The way Nelson chose to tell the story definitely makes it all the better, but the story is good enough that it still would have worked without that particular structure. Not that I’d want to change it! Just saying. I was incredibly impressed with everything about the story, from NoahandJude conflicts, to feelings of first love, to family problems, to identity issues. And the way it is all resolved at the end is beyond… well, that’s probably getting too close to a spoiler.

I can’t decide whether Noah or Jude was my favourite. I’m leaning closer towards Noah, just because it took me a little longer to warm up to Jude. This might because most of Noah’s sections are in the first half of the book, while Jude’s are more plentiful in the second half. The opening chapter of Noah’s world grabbed me straight away and I was awed by Nelson’s writings style and the narrative of Noah’s Invisible Museum art (the paintings in his head). I found Jude, in her early years, a tad annoying and selfish (though they both could be that way(, but liked her a lot more in her chapters at age 16 (and grew to really enjoy her obsession with her Grandma Sweetwine’s bible). Noah’s sections made me laugh a lot more at times, but then became more depressing as everything started going wrong. I don’t know. I’m not really making a good case for which of the twins I liked best. They’re both wonderfully crafted characters and very interesting to read. The sort of twins I’d definitely want as best friends if I were also a fictional character.

I really loved how Jandy Nelson dealt with love in a really realistic and wonderful way. Yep, time to talk about the two love interests: Noah’s Brian and Jude’s Oscar. Again, I can’t say much because it will give away a LOT of the storyline, but I will just say that both of the boys are great, great characters and I really liked them a lot. They’re much more complex and broken than your usual love interest. I really liked that their purpose wasn’t just to support the twins, but that they also had their own stuff to deal with. And well… the sexual tension and drama of their relationships with Noah and Jude is just… frustrating, cry-worthy and heart warming. It really made me believe in the possibility of soul mates. I loved it all so much, and if for whatever reason you don’t like Nelson’s creative writing flair or something else, I guarantee that the love stories, not just between these two couples, but also between Noah and Jude and the love stories of their parents (who are brilliant characters), will make you stick around to see how everything resolves.

I can’t not mention the brilliance of Guillermo. He’s a fantastic character. I imagined him like a cross between Hagrid and Sirius Black. I’m not even sure why. Anyway, I loved him so much. The scene with him, Oscar and the donuts is certainly a highlight. And it made me really hungry.

I’ll Give You The Sun is definitely now up there with my all-time favourite books. I truly adored every minute of reading it. It really opens up your mind and warms up your heart and yes, it makes you cry. I cried…a few times actually. Not like, sobbing, but close enough. Maybe it’s because I’m extra emotional lately, but I think you just might cry either, or at least develop a slight case of heart attack or emotional headache. Which is totally not a bad thing when you’re reading something as good as this.

To finish this (awful?) review, I’ll leave you with one quote (I could easily provide more but it would mean typing out the whole book) which (I hope) will convince you to read this gem of a novel asap:

‘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.’

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