Monday, March 16, 2015

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Publication Date:  September 16, 2014
Publisher:  Dial Books
Series:  Stand Alone
Pages:  371
Genre:  Contemporary
Synopsis:  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.

Review:  I honestly thought I hated this book at the start.  But the more I read of it, the more I liked it.  Apparently, I can be wrong on occasion.

The singular reason I believed this book was terrible to start was the writing style.  It is almost as if all the characters are tripping on acid, meaning it has a very magic realism type of writing.  It takes some getting used to, and I don't think it will ever be my favorite writing style, but it does work for this book.  The main characters, Jude and Noah, especially Jude, are extremely superstitious, so all the eccentricities seem to fit in.  Although the writing can be jarring at first, you eventually learn to enjoy it, and Jandy Nelson is clearly a superb writer.  Each word was plainly chosen with care and thoughtfulness.

Plot-wise, I really loved the book.  The past events are being told from Noah's point of view, and the future from Jude, so the mysteries work toward the middle until everything ties together in the end.  This was done superbly.  You are given parts of the truth as the twins know it, each little bit revealing more about the story and about the characters themselves.  There is a clear difference in tone with the twins, so it never gets confusing as to which character's point of view the current chapter was being told from.  Noah tells them becoming broken and Jude tells them becoming whole again.  The best part is how Jude and Noah grow and develop throughout the novel. 

Every character has multiple layers, motives, and secrets.  They are each a bloody and beautiful mess, and it is so perfect.  Jude is my personal favorite.  She's spunky and quirky in the best possible way.  I adore her superstitious beliefs that she adamantly follows. The Jude when she is sixteen is radically different from thirteen year old Jude, and I doubtlessly prefer the older version of Jude, who is infinitely wiser.  In fact, as they grow older, Noah and Jude seem to swap roles, and it is the constant need to know what happened that makes you burn through this book.  

Noah is a wallflower, unlike his daredevil sister.  He is a shy artist who sees the world in brilliant color and impossible visions. Watching him make mistakes and attempt to make his way through life is equally pitiful and endearing.  He is naive, perhaps a little too much so, which can be frustrating.  It would have been easy for me to dislike him, but I couldn't.  He is simply to honest and too real of a character to hate, and he is such a complex person.  Noah is like a mosaic, with a rainbow of different chips making him into a person. In fact, each and every character is flawed and contradicting, such wonderful mayhem that is impossible not to love.

The romances in this book were swoon-worthy, in an adorable, giggling kind of way.  First there's Brian, the boy next door that Noah quickly falls for.  Their relationship is difficult, since both of them is unwilling to admit their are gay, and it is one of the most truthful and open LGBT love stories I have ever read.  Then there is Oscar, who is the embodiment of that bad-but-lovable-boy cliche.  However, you can't help but root for him and Jude.  They both exist in a mutual peculiar state of impulsiveness and loss, and the conversations between them never get old.  Love in this book revolves around fate and meant-to-be, which is entirely improbable, but fits in so well with the extraordinary themes that you don't really question it.    

The family is an absolute wreck.  It is a decline that begins slowly and then collapses all at once.  The father wishes Noah were more like Jude, and the mother is so involved with Noah she literally forgets about Jude.  Naturally, these conflicts lead to envy and bitterness that eventually wear down the twins relationship.  I'll Give You the Sun is ultimately a tale about family and love, and how people deal with all that life throws at them.  It is a fascinating depiction of disaster and grief, one that brilliantly shows how people can change and learn from past mistakes.  

I'm a sucker for sad stories, especially those with deeper underlying messages.  The writing can be a little much, and it has its faults, but I was enamored with this book.  It is raw and intense and isn't afraid to show emotion, both the good and the bad.  It is a work of art, one I very much recommend.  

4 Keys

No comments:

Post a Comment