I’ll Give You the Sun – Jandy Nelson
By Rachel Reeves
I’ll Give You The Sun
|I’ll Give You The Sun Jandy Nelson|
Noah and Jude are so close they’re almost the same person, they’ve always been together and they always will be. That is until tragedy strikes and they lose their Mom in a terrible accident. Now they barely speak, acting like ghosts in the house they share.
Nelson tells the story from both twins perspectives, Noah tells the early years and Jude the present, but what the twins don’t realize is that they each have half of the story if only they could make it back to each other and piece it together.
From a young age Noah and Jude have been immersed in a world filled with art, not just their crayon drawings stuck on the fridge but museum trips with a mother who happens to be an art expert and lecturer. This love of art is carried through in both of their stories and has even affected the layout of the book with paint smudges and splatter covering most pages. I felt that this added to the story in a way that’s hard to explain, it just made Noah and Jude so much more real to me and allowed me to feel both their passion and pain tied to creativity.
Noah’s thread shows him as an introverted young artist, unsure of himself, his talents and the fact that he’s falling in love with the boy next door; a voyage of self-discovery where he finds himself able to be fully himself around Brian. This is the first time Noah has made an emotional connect with anyone that he wasn’t in utero with, and with Brian Noah is confident and happy, unlike his other life. While their parents are fighting their own private battles both twins vie for their parent’s attentions, daredevil surfer Jude is daddy’s girl, while sensitive artistic Noah is his mother’s child. While Jude goes through a downward spiral of rebellion against her mother she spirals into Noah’s life causing destruction of unimaginable magnitude. Jude threatens everything Noah holds dear – his mother’s affection, a spot at the art school he was born to attend and even his budding romance with Brian.
Three years later and we hear things from Jude’s perspective. Wow how things have changed! Jude’s life is now dictated by her Grandmother’s ghost, her obsession with superstitious rituals, her complete boycott of boys and the choice of baggy clothing she hides behind. She is attending the school of Noah’s dreams and is wracking with guilt over what she has done to get there and what happened between her and Noah to drive them so far apart. Then she meets Oscar, a boy who has made appearances in both twins stories, and her views on everything especially her boy boycott are turned on their head!
As both twins struggle to forgive not only each other but themselves, they are able to piece together the puzzle that has become their lives and finally deal with their Mother’s death. This novel is a real coming of age piece about grief and the anger and blame that come hand in hand with experiencing loss of such magnitude.
Nelson has a serious talent for writing relatable lovable characters with depth and personality that lead to feel as though you have built a personal relationship with each one of them and immersed yourself into their world. While this book is about many things: grief, sexuality, creativity, bravery, identity and guilt, to name a few, it is about love above all things. If you’re a fan of John Green this is definitely a story you’d love! Prepare for tears and complete and utter heartbreak as you dive into the world of Noah and Jude, and to learn not only a love and appreciation of art but a refreshed understanding of how beautiful words can be!
Fun Facts about Jandy Nelson
- Jandy Nelson started her career as a literary agent obsessed with picture books.
- With a passion for learning Nelson has an A.B.A from Cornell in comparative literature, and MFA in poetry from Brown and another MFA in Children’s and Young Adult literature from Vermont College, and she achieved all this while having a full-time job!
- Her first novel ‘The Sky Is Everywhere’ was noted as one of YALSA’s (Young Adult Library Services Assosiation) 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults and her second novel ‘I’ll Give You The Sun’ has won the 2015 Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature!
- Jandy herself is superstitious just like Jude.