There has been a lot of buzz about I’ll Give You the Sun in the book blogosphere. I’ve seen bloggers who received review copies of this, raving about the book. I read Jandy Nelson’s debut novel The Sky is Everywhere back in 2010 and I have fond memories of it even if I barely remember the details since it’s been so long. I’ve been looking forward to I’ll Give You the Sun and it made me happy that I had an added reason to bump it up when it got chosen for our book club discussion.
Here’s the summary from Goodreads:
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.
I found I’ll Give You the Sun an absorbing read. It was easy to get into and kept me interested until the end. It reminded me of some of the Aussie YA contemps that I’ve loved because it has a similar feel and tone. It’s a novel filled with flawed characters who have experienced difficult situations, who are trying to live life one day at a time. Jude and Noah are teenage twins, both filled with a lot of artistic potential. Noah paints and draws the world as he sees it. Jude creates sand sculptures of women, and also designs and sews dresses, which she learned how to do from their grandmother. The narrative changes from Noah’s point of view when the siblings are 13 years old to Jude’s 16-year-old perspective. These two have such strong personalities and it was fun to read their narration. They’re super close at the start of the story but drift apart later on. I kept reading because I wanted to know the events that led to the emotional distance between two people who were previously inseparable. I also wanted to see them heal their brokenness together. This leads me to one point that kept me from truly loving the book. I felt like there was a lot of grief, hurt and pain in I’ll Give You the Sun and yes, there was also hope, forgiveness and healing but I don’t think there was enough to create a balance. Maybe it would have been better if the ending was extended a bit? I don’t know if that would have worked but I just felt like I wanted more from the story. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed reading I’ll Give You the Sun. There’s a lot to like in this book – such as the complex relationships between family members, the slow burn romance, the quirky narration and all the descriptions of art. I think most readers of contemporary YA would enjoy reading this. I will definitely be watching out for Jandy Nelson’s next book.