Author: Jandy Nelson Published: September 16, 2014 by Dial Books
It’s been a long time since I read a book in which I fell so in love with the characters that I wanted to live with them forever, so in love with the words that I just wanted to read them over and over and over again. For me, this is one of those books.
The way the stories in I’ll Give You the Sun unfold and intertwine is magically written, the characters are explosive, they are incredibly real and I fell in love with them so hard and fast it winded me. Noah and Jude, and even Oscar, are heartbreakingly true, and untrue, to themselves and to the world. The relationships between them are constantly changing, fluid and fluxing with the world around them as that changes, sometimes for the better, but often for the worst. They act as most teenagers would act, angry and lost and confused, there’s no out of place wisdom or uncharacteristic know-all. They are simply real teenagers, with wonderfully rich personalities.
And then there is the language – oh, the language! – such vivid images are created in your mind as you read the words that the colours start to lift from the page and fill the room you’re in. Such amazingly simple, but so very complex detail, such explosive descriptions that just make you want to keep reading and never stop. The language was my favourite thing about this book, as much as I loved Noah, and then Jude, or even Oscar and Brian, I loved the language. Jandy Nelson has such a sublime and inspiring way with words, the language begged me to become a better writer, just from reading it.
You aren’t supposed to, so I’m told, but you always have a favourite twin. I’ve known a few twins and there’s always one you’re a little closer to than the other, because as similar as they may be, they are always two very distinctly different people. At first I loved Noah, I just wanted to keep reading Noah’s story, and felt that I had nothing in common with Jude, but then as Jude began to tell her stories, I fell just as much in love with her struggles and her pain as I had Noah’s charisma. I love them both. Jude and Noah are so wonderfully different, relatably so. I’ve never been all that close with my sister, so I related to their strange, awkward communications as they got older, in Jude’s telling, and longed for the closeness we had as children while I read Noah’s stories. The two are so lost, so brilliantly, and life alteringly lost; the trials they face are terrible, and the world in which they live drags you in and begs you to helps them, only you’re as helpless as they are, flailing about in the sea that is life’s hardships. But of course, from hardship we grow, and change and it moulds us into who we are to become as we reach the peak of adulthood, and this book explores that so beautifully, so artfully, that it just makes you want more and more and more. Never have I read a coming of age story that has enveloped me so completely and driven me back to how it felt to be a teenager so terribly, particularly as I get further and further from my own. Don’t get me wrong, I have barely anything in common with Noah and Jude, besides struggling with finding myself at that age, yet I still feel so inexplicably connected to them. The story is just that good.
This is now one of my favourite books ever. I don’t want to leave Noah and Jude behind. I will reread this many times in the future and I will likely love it just as much ever single time. It is mesmerising. It is superb.