September 4, 2014

I'll Give You the Sun - Jandy Nelson

I'll Give You the Sun book cover
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Publisher: Dial
Publication Date: September 16, 2014
Source/Format: BEA 2014 (Thanks Penguin!) || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my review.]

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.

It's been a couple of weeks since I read I'll Give You the Sun, but I'm still not sure how to even begin to explain how I feel about Jandy Nelson's sophomore novel. Honestly, I'm going to have to run with another art comparison here: I'll Give You the Sun made me feel like I was watching color slowly fill in a black and white sketch, combining beauty and whimsy in a novel that completely swept me up.

Seriously, there's no doubt in my mind that Nelson's writing is gorgeous. It's fully evocative, bringing to life each element - characters, settings, story - with perfect artistry. I fell in love with how I'll Give You the Sun was told, and how it expertly peeled away the layers of the complicated relationship Noah and Jude have.

Personally, the depiction of complex family relationships (particularly between Noah and Jude as twin siblings) is probably the main selling point of I'll Give You the Sun. With family, there are so many facets that are constantly tackled: whether to lie to protect others or expose the truth, growing up and discovering new things about yourself that might change everyone's perception of you, the trap of favoritism, the occasional miscommunication (or even lack of) or even a sense of displacement if you feel different. Nelson deftly tackles them all, even as she makes it clear that the relationships you've got with family are among the most important relationships in life.

Noah and Jude are as different as night and day, but I loved them both. They were real, with characteristics that made them remarkable and flawed. Getting inside either one's mind, depending on whose chapter I was reading, was incredibly easy, and I constantly felt like I was getting to know them better with every single page.

I'll Give You the Sun was just wonderful. I was seriously caught up in every moment, to the point where I barely set the novel down as I read it. Plus, I love that art was heavily involved in this tale, especially because it inspired me to continue to create (even if I'm no artist)! If you're a Jandy Nelson fan, I'm sure this is already on your to-read list; if you've not read her novel before, well, what are you waiting for? You should get your hands on this one when it releases, and her debut novel, The Sky is Everywhere for good measure!

What is your favorite work of art?

There's one particular piece of art I've been obsessed with for as long as I can remember: Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh. I find the swirls and colors mesmerizing, and think it's incredibly clever how Van Gogh managed to create something so beautiful. I had the pleasure of finally seeing it in person a couple of months ago at the Museum of Modern Art. I stood there for quite some time, just taking in the way it made me feel so awestruck and inspired. 


  1. This is such a beautiful review. I can really feel how much this book inspired you in terms of art and color. It makes me want to read it more. And I rarely find reviews or books where the theme of family is the one that stands out the most so I'm really glad to see that.

    And I also love Starry Night!

  2. Good to know I'll Give You the Sun was a really good read for you. I'm just waiting for it to be released so I can finally get my hands on a copy. I remember enjoying The Sky is Everywhere but the details are a bit fuzzy in my mind.

    I like Starry Night too! I don't know a lot about art but just based on what I've seen, I really like impressionist and post-impressionist art.

  3. I agree! I really, really enjoyed this one but I had more of a connection with DG than DB. I really did like how they were different! I was wondering how it would work out and I thought it was pretty great. I just love what Abigail Haas does with her books!

  4. ooh! I didn't know this had art themes. That's a huge selling point. I am a super fan of Nelson's writing and I cannot wait to tackle this, so much so that I'm sort of also scared to start it. But I love everything you articulated here in your paragraph about family relationships. I cannot wait to get to know Jude and Noah for myself. Lovely review, Alexa.

  5. Lovely review, Alexa! I still don't know how I'm going to review this book - or do justice to it - because it's so amazingly well written. Everything is brought so vividly to life in what can only be referred to as "Jandy Nelson" style. I loved Noah and Jude's relationship, and I was so anxious for them to find healing and forgiveness.

  6. Two twins and what you write us can understand. Everything can be brought to and reading what I understand we all can understand.

  7. I can't wait to read this book. I have been looking forward to it and your review just made the last little wait all that much harder. I want to read it NOW! Thanks for the awesome review!

  8. Loved this review oh so much! Glad it was so good and you enjoyed it so much! Very excited about reading this one!


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