Friday, April 8, 2016

Review: I'll Give You the Sun - Jandy Nelson

I'll Give You the Sun
Jandy Nelson
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Dial Books
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars
Goodreads 

This book was nothing short of artwork.

I bought I'll Give You the Sun on a whim, because I was in Barnes & Noble (as I often am) and it was shiny and I'd heard it mentioned a few times, but I really was just expecting a cutesy contemporary novel about ~sibling love~ and also for some reason I had it in my head that there was a road trip involved although that's not actually a thing that happens.

Anyway, the book ended up going so much further than just "cutesy YA" and I really found myself experiencing a range of emotions as I read, from heartbroken to frustrated to joyfully devastated (trust me that last one is real).

I'll Give You the Sun is told in alternating perspectives -- through twins Noah and Jude. Jude narrates her story at age 16 and Noah narrates at 13.5/4, so we jump back and forth between the point in their lives we're viewing, but the chapters are long so it never gets confusing with having to keep track of anything. I kept getting so engrossed in each section that I would read one and once it switched narrators I'd think "Ugh I liked the perspective I was already reading better, I don't want to switch narrators" and then I'd read the next chapter and I'd think the exact same thing about the other twin. I also kept sympathizing with each twin when I was reading their parts. So like, Noah would be complaining about Jude and I would vehemently hate her in that moment, and then ten minutes later I'd be reading about Jude all full of regret and hope and I'd get ready to fight any ghosts who tried to mess with her. Their mistakes and decisions all just felt really human and it balanced out the way the book was a little over the top as a whole so it meshed together really well.

I was almost immediately drawn into the writing style. It's so pretty and eloquent but it has that undertone of despair/distress that made me stop and save passages like every page. Also, there are parts with a sort of surrealism or inflated hyperbole where one of them (I feel like it happened more with Noah) will say something like:
"At the mention of Dad's name, all the paintings, mirrors, family photographs come crashing down from the walls. Again, only I notice....I close my eyes for a second, see the roof whip off the house, reel across the sky."
These things aren't actually happening and the roof is where it should be and the paintings are still on the wall, but it serves to highlight the emotional wreckage of what's going on. The first time there was an instance of this exaggerated "it didn't really happen but I'm saying it did for effect" writing, I'll admit I was a little confused but I quickly got used to it. There were parts where Noah describes an ongoing storm as flooding everything around them for eternity, but wherever their mom stands is dry and sunshiney. Or when something exciting happens to him in one scene and he describes it as going blind and then follows with "The blindness lasts just a second, then the colors start flooding into me: not through my eyes but right through my skin, replacing blood and bone, muscle and sinew, until i am redorangebluegreenpurpleyellowredorangebluegreenpurpleyellow." I really liked these exaggerated descriptions because 1. they were fun to read and they really added to his voice and 2. a lot of the time when I'm talking to my friends I get really exaggerated with things I say too and tell them things like how I think I've stopped breathing and am probably a corpse, so it helped me relate to the character.

Another cool thing about the writing/narration was that both Noah and Jude had a Thing that they interjected between their storytelling. So, Jude is extremely superstitious and carries around her grandmother's "bible" of ways to ward off bad luck and things like that, so there'd be entries dispersed through the pages. Meanwhile, Noah's an artist and likes to paint in his head so sometimes after a description of a scene he'd name the portrait he was thinking of drawing. Some of my favorites of these are:
"SELF-PORTRAIT: Boy Remakes World Before World Remakes Boy" 
"LANDSCAPE: When God Paints Outside the Lines." 
"To bring back joy over a grieving family member, sprinkle three tablespoons of crushed eggshells over every meal."  
"Write your sins on apples still hanging on the tree; when they fall away so do your burdens."
Honestly, the writing was just so tremendously good that I can't even pick favorite quotes to show y'all because not only are there so many gems, but each one I mention will launch me into a page long spiral about it.

I loved the story and all it encompassed, too. Though the chapters were 2.5 years apart, everything connected so well. Characters popped in and out of both sets of years and we got to explore what tore the twins apart from not only both sides, but also while it was happening and after the fact when it was trying to be remedied. It wasn't heavy on plot in a sense that "the characters have to do this thing to complete this journey" and a great deal of it was spent on the story that already happened, although this doesn't mean it was short of subplots and drama and things happening. I liked the amount of things that happened because it stopped it from being gimmicky or just ~too much~. Also, the book had a huge focus on art and it was all just really cool.

From the astronomy-loving boy who moves in next door to the giant behemoth of a sculptor who takes Jude under his wing, every character was wonderful and I loved them all (even the ones I hated) and I honestly could say so much about this book, but I really think everyone should read it and experience the story for themselves.

- Noor

Does your soul feel connected to anyone else's?
Let us know in the comments!

2 comments:

  1. I loved this book. I thought the way it was told from before and after the event was brilliant.

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