Thursday, October 23, 2014

Book Review: I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson

I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson. This book, you guys! One of the (many) reasons I love to read so much is because stories can be absolutely pure magic. I never understand it when someone says “I don’t really read,” because who doesn’t need magic in their lives? If you ask me, we could all use a little magic and this book has got it. I wish I could string together all the right words in all the right ways to properly express how much I loved it. I identified not only as a sister, but as a daughter and as a mother. Not an easy thing to do.

Here’s the description from Goodreads:

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 have to agree with that last sentence. I was teary-eyed almost the entire time. And not just because things were sad. Sometimes because they were so unbelievably happy! If you know me, you might be like, “Sure Sarah, but let’s be real, you cry at everything.” Ok, I’ll give you that. BUT THIS WAS SO MUCH MORE. There was so much beauty and heartbreak and truth.

Noah and Jude are twins and the story is told from both perspectives. Noah at thirteen with his quiet vulnerability and self-captioned commentary on life. Who views the world through a lens of such vivid, brilliant colors that you can’t help but see it the way he does. And then Jude at sixteen, with her quirky superstitions, her conversations with her dead grandmother and her determination to make things right. From one time to the next, Noah and Jude seem to have completely flip-flopped their entire personalities. Obviously some major events went down to cause such dramatic shifts and Nelson does an incredible job of weaving the two timeframes in order to unravel the mystery.

Both Noah and Jude are talented artists and at thirteen are preparing to apply for a competitive high school for the arts. Maybe the most amazing part of Nelson’s story-telling is her use of art. Her words are written as beautifully as if they themselves were being painted across the page. You can see her images so clearly. Both Noah and Jude use their artwork to express themselves, to confess, to hurt, to heal. If I could wish for anything, it would be to steal a fraction of Nelson’s talent for descriptions.

The supporting characters are equally colorful and complex. Everyone is a little imperfect, a little broken and very human. The boy across the street, Brian who just seems to “get” Noah. The older, bad boy, Oscar who tries to draw Jude out of her self-imposed shell. The eccentric, master sculptor, Guillermo who reluctantly agrees to mentor Jude. Everyone has their own demons to battle and their scars to prove it.

I think you get the idea. If there was a book that I would slip under my pillow at night so that I could dream about it, (like my 5-year old does) I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN is it.

I hope you read it. And I hope it’s magical.

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