Author: Jandy Nelson
Publisher: Dial BYR
Release date: September 16th 2014
Genre: Young Adult contemporary/magical realism
Source: BEA 2014
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My rating: 5 out of 5 starsJude and her brother, Noah, are incredibly close twins. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude surfs and 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 divisive ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as an unpredictable new mentor. 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'll Give You the Sun is so good that I don't even want to write a review for it. The only other book I've felt this way about is Jellicoe Road - I figured I could never do that book justice in a review, so I just... didn't. I feel the same way about I'll Give You the Sun, but since it's an ARC, I kind of have to write a review. Even though I don't think my words could ever explain the perfection that is this book.
I'll admit that it took me a while to get into I'll Give You the Sun. I thought that was because the pacing is kind of slow, but honestly, it's just because I don't usually read books as literary as this one. I'm used to flying through books in a day or two (at least now, during the summer). But I'll Give You the Sun is not the kind of book you can read in one sitting. It took me almost a week to get through I'll Give You the Sun because it's the kind of book that you can only read small parts of at once because you need to stop and marvel at the beauty of the writing and think about the story and life and everything. This is not my regular kind of read, but it stands out in the best way possible.
I went into this story expecting it to be contemporary, but that's not entirely accurate. I guess magical realism comes closest to what you could classify I'll Give You the Sun as, even though I'm not sure that's exactly right, either - it's never really revealed whether the ghosts and the magic are real or just perceived. That wouldn't usually be my kind of thing, but it totally works; the fact that the twins' mother's ghost affects their lives feels completely natural. The magical realism is integrated seamlessly into the story, and Jandy Nelson totally makes it work.
I loved the characters in I'll Give You the Sun. Both Noah and Jude have made mistakes, and they've done some pretty bad things to each other and to the rest of the family. But their feelings about these mistakes are so honest and complex and relatable that it totally works. Both of them are very different from myself, but I understood them and felt for these characters so much. They're more than characters to me; they feel like real people. I don't know how else to explain them; Noah and Jude are simply amazing characters.
The plot is not one that I would usually love. The two stories - Noah's from when they were 13 and Jude's from now, when they're 16 - work together in so many intricate ways. It would have been easy for these relations to come across as contrived and unrealistic coincidences, but somehow, Jandy Nelson makes them work. I was surprised by every revelation, yet they felt completely natural. Maybe it's because of the magical realism, but I never doubted whether any of the plot twists were realistic. These two intertwined stories are so complex and impressive, and I loved it.
I'll Give You the Sun is absolute perfection. I was expecting greatness from the author of The Sky Is Everywhere (one of my all-time favorites), but this was even better than expected. I feel like none of what I've said really shows great I'll Give You the Sun is, and but you absolutely have to read it. I'll Give You the Sun is a beautifully honest, complex, thought-provoking story. If Jandy Nelson's next book is just as great, I will gladly wait another four years, like we did after The Sky Is Everywhere. (Who am I kidding!? GIVE ME MORE NOW.)