Ooh yay, this is a bookworm moment! (First of many…)
This might have topped my list at all-time favorite.
Okay maybe not.
I already know I’m going to read it again.
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson is an absolute must read. MUST. Necessary. Required (for life). It has everything from loss to angst to family to passion… It is true to the core and so genuinely human. It sort of makes me question why I even try to write at all.
It’s that good.
The story follows Noah and Jude, inseparable twins. Noah falls in love with the boy next door, and Jude turns into a daredevil and joins in with the popular crowd. Years later, they hardly talk to each other. Something devastating has happened and torn their world apart.
That’s the best summary I can give without spoilers.
One of the many great things about young adult is that the characters’ emotions are so heightened. Because, you know, in high school, everything feels like it’s the end of the world. Jandy Nelson does this world justice in not “talking down” to teens. The feelings are raw. True. And so painstakingly real.
The book jumps between the perspectives of Noah and Jude at different ages. Noah is deeply passionate about art and sees the world by painting it in his head. At 13, without many friends at all, he falls for the new boy that’s moved in next door. The way Noah experiences this is so believable and real, because it’s the same way we all feel when we’re crushing at 13 and don’t know how to go about it. And the way he describes everything is to the extreme (and outright hilarious).
The book skips back and forth in time, and we hear the story from Jude with she’s 16 and a half. Whatever happened in the years in between slowly unravel, and we discover that Jude and Noah are both keeping a secret from each other. Jude sees the grandmother’s ghost constantly and talks to her; as well as taking up her grandmother’s “bible” of rules to live by. So Jude carries an onion in her pocket.
Okay, I didn’t mean to make this sound totally bonkers. It’s really very good.
Who should read it?
Teens going through depression. Anyone who feels like no one understands or feels like they aren’t normal. Parents that are having a difficult time understanding what their kids are feeling. (So maybe… just everyone). The characters are very real here. Unlike most young adult novels, what this does so well, is include real parents. They’re not the mumbling parents from Peanuts—they’re real-life breathing human beings. And multiple topics are covered. Divorce, first loves, LGBTQ, sibling rivalries, major loss… So, relate. Cry. Feel.
Writers should read this if they want a good example of…
Voice. The problem a lot of multiple perspective novels have is the tricky task of making the people sound like they’re different people. It’s frustrating when you have to go back to the beginning of the chapter just to remember who’s talking. Personally, books with strong voices stump all. Noah and Jude are so distinct—in the phrases they use or the way they see things. There’s so much more than just narrating the story, and the way the story is told through the twins are entirely different from each other and absolutely brilliant.
If you’re craving something that’s going to tug at your heart with such truth, dive into this. Like. Immediately.
Get it now.
Song sent you.
See what I’m reading now on Goodreads.