I’ll Give You The Sun was recommended to me on my instagram account by a fellow ‘bookstagrammer’ who told me that the novel was their favourite. It was already on my reading list, so the moment I finished my previous read, The Queen of the Tearling (see review here) I immediately bought myself a copy. Now, I want you to know that I am most definitely not exaggerating when I say that this book is amazing. Completely amazing. It’s called I’ll Give You The Sun, and let me tell you, this book was like the sun itself because it just would not leave me alone. I couldn’t book this book down! Every moment that I could I read it, and when I couldn’t read it, it was in the back of my mind calling out my name. I cannot get enough. If I didn’t have such a long reading list and this blog, I would probably read it over and over again.
Now that I have finished with my emphatic declaration of love, I’ll give you a proper review. This novel is about twins Noah and Jude. They are 13 when the novel begins and their mother, the artistic spirit Dianna, is eager for them both to apply to CSA, a local art school. However, this drives a wedge between the twins as the competition between them grows stronger and stronger. This part of the novel, is told by Noah, with alternating chapters told by Jude set a few years later when the pair are 16. Jude now goes by CJ, she is at CSA but Noah isn’t, and they barely talk to each other. What has happened between them? And can they ever recover their relationship?
“This is what I want: I want to grab my brother’s hand and run back through time, losing years like coats falling from our soldiers.“
The story in this book was gripping from the beginning. Jandy Nelson tackles so many big issues in this book, from love, toxic relationships, friendships, depression, and death – all set against a backdrop of art. I loved reading about the family relationships here, between Jude and Nelson, and between them and their parents, as well as those of them and their friends. Other characters in the book were equally intriguing, such as Oscar and Brian, with Guillermo being a favourite of mine with his larger-than-life personality and mood swings. Although the romantic relationships in the book could be seen as a bit cliché, with the sweet boy next door character and the troubled bad boy figure, this was saved by the fact that Nelson seems to understand exactly what her characters are feeling. Her descriptions of Jude and Nelson’s feelings were so believable and so beautifully written that I felt like they were real people.
Another thing that I loved about this novel was how there were no loose ends. Even small details that were mentioned became relevant to the story in some way, even the neighbour’s parrot who only knows how to say the phrase “Where’s Ralph?” This meant that even in the midst of Nelson’s deeply emotional narrative, there were moments that made you laugh when details popped up again. The eccentricity of the characters, such as Jude’s superstition was a big part of this, for example, the moment where Oscar hands her an orange after she has mentioned her grandmother’s advice that if a man gives a woman an orange her love for him will multiply, made me laugh out loud.
Overall, I cannot recommend this book enough. It is fantastic for you if you are a reader of young adult fiction, but even if you do not usually read YA, this book will definitely blow you away with the story, characters, and poetic writing.
Well done, Jandy Nelson!