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.
Once I got into it I absolutely loved it. Many, many feels.
It was rather metaphor heavy initially, which was rather jarring for my reading experience – because these were very expressive figures of speech.
“My heart leaves, hitchhikes right out of my body, heads north, catches a ferry across the Bering Sea and plants itself in Siberia with the polar bears and ibex and long-horned goats until it turns into a teeny-tiny glacier.
Because I imagined it.”
But nevertheless, I really got into the book about a third of the way in. Jandy Nelson has a gift for making you experience the truly gut-wrenching emotions, and my heart ached a little through the journey of Noah and Jude’s grief, hurt, anger, viciousness and redemption
I’ll Give You The Sun deals with the complications of family relationships: families falling apart, family members finding happiness outside of the family unit, family favourites, and the cold calculated hurt that we can inflict on those we love the best, because we love them the best, and know exactly where to stab the knife.
The book also covers teenage sexuality, being the awkward outcast and perennial parental disappointment, the nature of art and artistic ability, and.. you know what? The book really manages to cram in so many facets of the teenage, and indeed human experience, that I can’t list them all here. But what’s great about the author is that she manages to cover all these topics gracefully, without turning it into an Issue Book.
Some quotes that really stood out for me:
“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?”
I didn’t bring the bad luck to us, no matter how much it felt that way. It brought itself. It brings itself.
The light hearted moments of humour in amongst the general angst:
“I will bathe in vinegar, down some raw eggs, and start looking for a wasp nest ASAP to put on my head.”
“I do not understand this,” he says.
“To reverse the leanings of the heart. Ancient family wisdom.”
He laughs. “Ah. Very good, In my family, we just suffer.”
And the sense of hope, of happiness at the end:
“You want us to live on a boat?” I ask.
“He wants us to live on an ark,” Noah answers, awe in his voice.