Title: I’ll Give You the Sun
Author: Jandy Nelson
Length: 371 pages
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 was actually a little afraid going into this book for 3 reasons:
1) Practically everyone that’s reviewed this said that they had cried during it, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that kind of emotional pain.
2) I hate reading books that are really hyped, because I usually end up having unrealistically high standards – which isn’t fair to the book.
3) I read Jandy Nelson’s The Sky is Everywhere, which everyone raved about, and honestly wasn’t a fan.
Fortunately, despite my reservations, I read I’ll Give You the Sun anyways, and couldn’t be more glad that I did! It was a wonderfully written book with beautifully written characters and a plotline that focused on the bond between siblings and the bonds of family.
I loved the packaging of this book, and I’m so glad that I finally own a physical copy. The cover/sleeve art is beautiful, and the bare book is just as lovely, with a bright orange spine and indents on the cover that look like sun rays.
Jandy Nelson wrote I’ll Give You the Sun beautifully. Her dialogue, characterization, and the way she wrote and paced the sequence of events was wonderful. One of my only issues with her writing, and with this book in general, was that it could get a little too flowery for my taste – the writing was filled with metaphors that could get to be too much. Besides that, though, I loved the writing style of this book!
I really loved the characters in this book – Jandy Nelson wrote them so beautifully and heartbreakingly. Seeing Noah and Jude from Noah’s perspective, when they were both 13, and then from Jude’s perspective, when they were 16, helped give me so much insight on their characters – it really saddened me to see what they once were and what they had become.
Noah and Jude Sweetwine are both extremely different and complex people, with their own idiosyncrasies and passions and secrets. I loved that it was emphasized that they both struggled with jealousy, because I feel as though that’s something that really exists in sibling dynamics but isn’t always written about – the jealousy that they both struggled with made them both do awful things. They were both really well developed throughout the course of this book, and I attribute a lot of that to the dual narratives. It was terrible to see both Noah and Jude, brimming with life and hope as 13-year-olds, having their lights dimmed as 16-year-olds.
The supporting characters in this book shone just as brightly as Noah and Jude – from their mom to their dad to Brian to Oscar to G., they were all so distinct in their characterization and so endearing. It’s been a while since I read a book with characters as vibrant as these, where I felt like they could just walk out of the pages and into the world any time they wanted.
One of my favorite things about this book is that its focal point is the Sweetwines, which is something that I feel is rarely seen in YA. Undeniably, the biggest focus of this book was the relationship between Jude and Noah, a pair of twins, along with their relationship(s) with their mother and father. The focus on family that is showcased in this book isn’t completely biological, either- G. and Oscar, and even G. and Jude, are just as much of family to each other as any biological family would be. Jandy Nelson literally says it herself, and I think that’s really important to convey.
While I didn’t cry at this book (I rarely cry whilst reading and in general), it genuinely touched me in so many different ways. The hurt that existed between Noah and Jude, but the obvious depth of the love they still had for each other, moved me and made me think of the near-indestructible love that siblings often have for each other. The different feelings of loss they both suffered with felt so raw and real, and I think their guilt was written and conveyed so wonderfully. Some of my favorite scenes of this entire book were when Jude first began working on her sculptures, and she let herself feel and get lost in her work and thought of her guilt about her mom and Noah, and when she let herself let loose her anger towards Noah and all of the pain and grief she felt (<- highlight blank space for spoilers). She wrote Noah and Brian (<- highlight for spoilers) in a way that was so heartbreakingly pure and earnest that it ripped at my heartstrings rather than tugged (the only scene I teared up at in this book was the last scene with Brian and Noah (<- highlight for spoilers) – you know which scene I’m talking about).
The only issues I had with this book were really
1) The incredibly rushed ending. I felt like I received very little closure on Noah’s behalf, and I feel as if their family didn’t have time to reconnect and come together again after everything they went through. Literally, I think everything was resolved within 4-5 pages. I also really wanted to feel more closure/resolution with Brian and Noah- they were my favorite plotline of this book, and I just wanted to watch them reconnect and heal rather than be told that they reconnected and healed (<- highlight for spoilers).
2) I felt that there was a little too much instalove when it came to Oscar and Jude (<-highlight for spoilers) but that may just be me being picky, since I’m not the hugest fan of romance. I adored reading about Noah and Brian’s (<- highlight for spoilers) relationship, though, and personally felt as though it was written perfectly. Painfully, but perfectly.
Although I had a few issues with I’ll Give You the Sun, in the grand scheme of things, they didn’t get in the way of my giving it a 4/5 star rating. I’ll Give You the Sun was brimming with emotion and was both heartbreaking and healing – I really felt for these characters and for their pain, and the ways that they healed. I highly recommend this book to those who want their heart to be ripped to shreds and are torn between simultaneously crying and smiling like an idiot with joy.