A little something about myself: I am not a “pick your favorite _____” person. I have a horrible time picking favorites. I cannot decide on a favorite movie or ice cream flavor. I usually end up just listing five of my favorites in whatever the category is. That being said this book has just blown me away and I am edging toward saying it is my favorite. Books are hard for me to choose a favorite. I feel like practically every time I finish a book I fall in love with it. However, I am selective in books that I want to keep forever and that I could never imagine giving away. This book just earned itself a spot in that prestigious category.
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson has been sitting on my shelf for a while now. I remember when the book first came out and I was intrigued by it but not enough to purchase it. Then it came out in paperback and with this cover. I absolutely loved the cover on the paperback edition. While the cover on the hardcover edition was beautiful too I think I connected with the quote they used on the front. It perfectly emphasizes what you can expect from this book.
The book follows two twins, Noah and Jude, as they navigate their changing lives. During the summer when they are 13 Noah forms a friendship with a new neighbor and his drawing skills flourish while Jude is busy flirting with boys, surfing, and doing outrageous stunts such as cliff diving. However, three years later everything is different. Jude is a weird hypochondriac who is trying to convince a former sculpture to mentor her while also experiencing a relationship with a new boy. Noah is busy on the cross country team and ignoring Jude. Something has happened to their relationship that has severed their bonds as twins and both only know half of the story. The years they are 13-14 is told from Noah’s perspective and then you jump three years into the future to when they are 16 years old and the story is from Jude’s perspective. With both of the twin stories told will they be able to reform their bond.
I loved both Noah and Jude. I would think one twin was my favorite but then I would start on the other’s perspective and I would decide that I liked twin. They both had so much in common but they were also so separate from each other that I would forget they were twins and weren’t just siblings. I loved seeing Jude’s character develop in her part of the story. She starts out as this weird moody teenager who doesn’t want to be at the school she is at but by the end of the book becomes confident girl she used be back when she was 13. Noah’s character was gay and was dealing with that fact as he dealt with the transition from middle school to high school. Being a boy in that age cannot be easy as it is but also liking boys at the same time makes it even harder. It was very interesting watching Noah deal with this part of himself that he felt he had to keep a secret for three years and then finally being able to see him accept himself.
I loved the way the book was written itself. It does not hold the format of a standard book. There are almost 400 pages and maybe 6 chapters in the book. It is almost like reading a collection of short stories instead of a novel but it works so well. The strangeness of the writing format matches the strangeness of all the characters. Noah was an artist and liked to paint things in his head. So whenever the book was in his perspective the titles of the paintings he did in his would be inserted in parenthesis in the book. Their grandmother, who had passed away, kept a bible that was filled with a bunch of different pieces of advise. Different superstitions from cultures across the world (such as keep an onion in your pocket to keep away bad luck). She had left it to Jude when she died and Jude followed that thing like the law. So whenever the book was in Jude’s perspective she would insert the different tidbits of advice from the bible. I loved these little quirky additions to the book because it really helped you connect with the characters.
All of the characters in the book were different and unique. There was a giant rock star stone carver, a English boy with a kaleidoscope face, and a neighbor boy who carried a suitcase of moon rocks. Everything about the book was unique and mystical. I absolutely loved this book and I highly highly highly recommend. Seriously guys go out and buy this book right now!