To make up for the fact I won’t be starting my drawing challenge for a few weeks here’s this weeks second post!
I’m so excited to talk about this book as it has been one of my absolute favourites since picking it up! I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson is a beautifully written book that explores the relationships between siblings and family members and how one terrible event can ruin these relationships. The book is full of secrets, change and deep thoughts and feelings that most teenagers face at some point.
The story follows Noah and his twin sister Jude, who are incredibly close despite being compete opposites. Noah is isolated from the “cool” teens around him. He’d much rather be in his room with his sketchbook, spying on the boy next door than at the beach or a party which is often where his sister is found. Daredevil Jude flirts with the boys, teasing with her red lipstick and short skirts and no matter how hard she tries she can’t seem to match Noah’s talent for drawing particularly in the eyes of their Mother.
When the twins’ Mother is killed in an accident and Jude gets accepted into the prestigious art school instead of Noah, their relationship takes a turn for the worse. The roles are almost switched and the writing style changes throughout the book keeping it fun and interesting. Each chapter is told by one of the twins at a specific age, usually 13 or 16, and often not in chronological order which I did have to get used to.
Jandy Nelson has clearly spent a lot of time researching twins and how she was going to portray her beloved characters and she’s done a great job. It’s almost as if two different authors have written this book, one for Jude and one for Noah. I found this particularly intriguing and it gave the book a twist in comparison to anything I’d read before.
One thing that did really catch my attention was the title of the book. “I’ll Give You the Sun” refers to a game Noah and Jude play in which they own certain earthly elements such as the trees, ocean, stars, sun etc and if they really want something from the other they make a trade. Jude trades the sun for Noah’s drawing of an important character in the book which already sat this character on a pedestal for the reader. I thought the title was a bit cheesy before I knew the meaning behind it but now I think it was smart thinking on Nelson’s part.
Despite reading this book at the age of 19 I found I could still relate to a lot of it, those awkward teenage years where you don’t know who you are or what you want to do with your life. Particularly related with Noah’s character when he began to fall in love with the boy next door. a favourite quote of mine is,
“I love you,” I say to him, only it comes out, “Hey.”
“So damn much,” he says back, only it comes out , “Dude.”
-Jandy Nelson, I’ll Give You the Sun
The book focuses on relationships including romantic relationships for both twins and it’s lovely to see the different interpretations of these from both sexes. There are other relationships within the book that I’m not going to talk about it as it will majorly spoil the whole storyline but there is a secret thats slowly revealed throughout the book with little clues planted perfectly by the author that will have you gasping and probably crying as it did with me.
I also loved how many artistic references there are within this book as it’s used as a medium to express the twins’ thoughts and feelings in entirely different ways. As an art student this was particularly appealing to me and I found it helped with the visualisation of the their thoughts. It’s a major part of the storyline and is the common ground between all of the characters that really ties them together.
Overall, this is a book I think I’ll return to in the years to come when I’m feeling low or need a pick me up. It’s a fun filled, emotion packed book of awkwardness, love, secrets and most importantly the bond between family. It’s a definite must read!