Hey! My name is Max and I will be reviewing I’ll Give You The Sun By Jandy Nelson today! It’s odd to be writing a book review again after being away for so long, but I had taken notes on what I will be saying for this book and hopefully it turns out to be clear and concise and not long-winded and abstruse! Anyways, I know I am rambling so let’s just head right in to the review section!
At first, Jude and her twin brother Noah, are inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them.
Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways… but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor. The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world.
“How can people die when you’re in a fight with them? When you’re smack in the middle of hating them? When absolutely nothing between you has been worked out?”– Jandy Nelson, I’ll Give You The Sun.
I’ll Give You The Sun is a coming-of-age story about Jude and her twin brother Noah as they navigate through grief, guilt, regrets, and jealousy and find love amidst the chaos in their lives. It provides an introspective view of the humanization of parents and how they aren’t always perfect but the tenacity of trying to do better for their children is what makes it count.
There are two different timelines in this book. Noah occupies the perspective from age 13 to 14 and Jude occupies the perspective when they are both 16. Each of them shares half of the story and both of the stories gel together at the end of the novel, imparting a full 360° view of the guilt that has been eating away at each other’s guilty conscience for so long.
The writing style is not that different from We Were Liars by E. Lockhart as both of these books use over-exaggerated metaphors to describe situations that aren’t actually happening in real life, but they are occurring in their emotions. I didn’t vibe with the writing style for this novel as much as I did for We Were Liars because for We Were Liars, there is a valid reason for the book to be written that way because the protagonist has fractured memories and trauma dissociation, but the protagonist for this novel – Noah, in particular – does not have any sort mental illness… so, I think this style of writing is pretty unnecessary for a novel like this. In case you are wondering how the metaphors fares in this book, I’ll give you an example:
“Jude barfs bright blue fluorescent barf all over the table, but I’m the only one who notices.”
I am not sure what the author is trying to achieve with this writing style, but it sure sets a very limpid demarcation between Jude and Noah’s perspectives, you’ll never get confused between the both of them because one of them likes to think in exaggerated metaphors and hidden artworks in his mind, and the other has an extreme fear of diseases and speaks about superstitions or what the characters in the book called “hogwash” all the time. I favored the writing style of Jude over Noah because she seemed to have a clearer voice than Noah and also because I didn’t have to read so much of inapposite metaphors when it came to her perspective.
The most fascinating aspect of the book for me was the driving force of jealousy that led one thing to another. For example, Noah’s fear of being inferior to his sister in terms of art causes him to do a variety of shady things to evict his sister from the competition to enter a competitive art school. Jude’s jealousy towards Noah stems from the fact that Noah has been hoarding his mom and not letting a fraction of her out of his grasp so she seeks attention by pulling off actions that her mom might not like. I thought Jandy Nelson did a superb job in showing the jealousy radiating from both sides and how Noah and Jude began to sabotage each other’s lives because of it.
Although the grieving aspect was well-written, the romance felt really dispensable and one-dimensional. It felt really forced and honestly, it was only there to help the characters grow and that’s it, nothing much came out of it. There’s a romance subplot in this book that involves a 16 years old minor and 19 years old adult… so um, that lowkey reminded me of that icky romance in pretty little liars even though the age gap between them in this book is only 3 years, and the age gap between the teacher and the student in pretty little liars is 7 years… anyways-
Let’s go back to the topic of parents aren’t always perfect. At the beginning of the book, Noah is subjected to toxic masculinity by his father by saying: “You need to be brave even when you’re afraid, that’s what it means to be a man. More talks followed: You need to act tough, sit up, stand straight, fight hard, play ball, look me in the eye, think before you speak. If it weren’t for Jude being your twin, I’d think you came about by partheno-whatever. If it weren’t for Jude, you’d be mincemeat on that soccer field. If it weren’t for Jude. If it weren’t for Jude. Doesn’t it bother you to have a girl fight your battles for you? Doesn’t it bother you to be picked last for every team? Doesn’t it bother you to be alone all the time? Doesn’t it bother you, Noah? Doesn’t it? Doesn’t it?” Later in the book, his dad realizes that Noah may not like him all that much and he tries to reconcile with him by taking him out for dinner for father-son time and indulging in his hobbies by listening. I think this shows that parents are humans too, we can’t always expect them to be perfect. They are flawed people, just like everyone else. I thought the author wrote and executed this idea really well and it was definitely one of the major highlights of this novel for me.
I know this book is very well-loved for its story, characters, and writing but it was a rollercoaster of highs and lows for me due to its writing and execution of ideas. Therefore, I am giving it a solid 70% (B).
This is the end of my review for I’ll Give You The Sun By Jandy Nelson! I hope you all enjoyed it and subscribe with your email/Wordpress account to get notifications when I post a new article! Bye!