I thought since I just finished reviewing The Sky is Everywhere, I might as well jump right into Jandy Nelson’s follow-up novel, I’ll Give You the Sun. After all, that’s how I read them, one right after another. Because she is that good.
This is the incredible story of Jude and Noah, twins, two halves of the same whole, who are torn apart by the tragic death of their mother. Neither knows why they are no longer NoahandJude. Or neither knows ENTIRELY why. Both have secrets.
They swap personalities, Noah going from introvert painter, secretly in love with the new boy, to life of the party and jock. He abandons his passion for art, and takes up running and partying. Jude, the daredevil rebel, becomes a quiet, withdrawn art student, plagued by bad luck, cloaked in her costumes and superstitions. Her love of the ocean disappears, suppressed beneath her pain.
Told from alternating perspectives, the story diverges and merges. Noah gives his pre-tragedy 13 year old thoughts, and Jude her post-tragedy 16 year old ones. But neither realize, or perhaps neither wants to admit, that each only has half the story. They cannot see beyond their own pain, that they need to find each other again to complete the narrative. But first, they need to find themselves. Again, like The Sky is Everywhere, this book is fist-pumpingly (probably not a real word, but I’m going with it) GOOD.
Nelson is lyrical and colourful in her use of language. The story is ethereal; Noah and Jude refer to magic and colour and movement in their thoughts and dialogue, and it is never ridiculous or out of character. But the book is not about the supernatural, the characters just are. When Noah refers to Jude’s hair as a “river of light,” that is exactly what you see. He sees the stories of his life, and those of everyone else, in paintings. He speaks in colour.
Jude quotes her dead grandmother’s “bible” of superstitions, calls God “Clark Gable,” (“OMCG” makes me laugh every time), sees ghosts, sculpts in stone, and speaks in action. She wants to remake the world, she effervesces when Oscar speaks to her, she flies. People break out of granite and colour explodes.
I’ll Give You the Sun is about love and romance and heartbreak and growing up and accepting truth. It is about hating your parents and loving them, and accepting them for who they are. It’s about loss and giving up the world to become whole. If your 16 year old self doesn’t laugh and cry her way through this book, you need to give her a shake.
I’ll Give You the Sun is published by Dial Books.