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I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Monday, January 26, 2015

Publisher: Dial
Format: Hardback
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell 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. This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.
I won this book after taking part in the Class of 2014 YA Superlative Blogfest, so thank you once again KatyTraceyJessica and Alison!!!

This book was a huge breath of fresh air. A much needed breath of fresh air. I'll Give You the Sun is very different to a lot of contemporary YA out there even though the themes (self discovery, family problems, first loves, last loves, and so on) are typical, Jandy Nelson's unique voice really sets I'll Give You the Sun apart from the others. I'll Give You the Sun was just as magical as The Sky is Everywhere - magic is the key - so if you don't like a touch of whimsy, you probably won't like this one.

The story is told through alternating points of view - twins Noah and Jude at different points in their life. Eventually, the two points of view converge and we finally get the full story. However, you're never that concerned with where the story is going because the journeys experienced by Noah and Jude are captivating enough, proving that old 'it's not the destination' adage. Again, this is down to Jandy Nelson's writing. I'm not the quickest reader (at least not compared to those of you who can read a book in a day) but this one took even longer than usual as I truly took the time to read it.

As I said, the themes are universal but the characters were memorable. I loved Noah and Jude and Guillermo the most (did anyone else picture Benicio Del Toro as Guillermo? No. Just me then). I liked that they'd all done questionable things (like we all have) but their true natures were illuminated through their art and the way they loved so fiercely. There was definitely a lot on perception vs. reality, as can be seen in the descriptions of Noah's artwork, through the window of the art classroom, and also through Oscar's (Oscore!) camera lens.

The time span meant it was possible to see the twins being forced to grow up due to circumstances both within and beyond their control, whoever they both had a childlike streak that reared itself every now and then that was refreshing. For example, running through the woods or playing rock, paper, scissors. It was also interesting to explore the consequences of being a gifted child - and the sibling of a gifted child. Also, how should parents cope with raising a gifted child? It must be natural to be in awe of them so does this lead to unconscious favouring? In this respect, I felt for Mr and Mrs Sweetwine (great surname).

Finally, I loved the gorgeous, lyrical prose and the way the title came about through Noah and Jude's game. Also the interconnectedness of our lives - this kept cropping up. Ok, they might have lived in a small town so it's not unusual to see the same people, however in real life there are certain people who when you look back seem to just keep popping up. Without getting all Grandma Sweetwine on you, I think it's important to keep an eye out for these people. Anyway, as you can tell, I really enjoyed this marvellous and beautiful book. I hope you'll give it a go.

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