The Compulsive Reader: I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Friday, August 21, 2015

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

So this morning, I was flipping through my tiny notebook of Books I've Finished, in which I've (unsurprisingly) kept track of every book I've ever finished and the date I finished it, all the way back to 2010. Frankly, I'm stunned that I didn't lose this notebook in March of 2010, so I can only deduce that it's thanks to divine intervention that the notebook is still with me, and that it's not fallen to tatters.

And as I was flipping through this notebook, I was reminded of how very behind I am on blogging about all of the books I love. A lot of it is final semester of grad school backlog, because in April, I finally read I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson and still haven't blogged about it, and you guys, we can't not talk about this incredible book.

I'll Give You the Sun is the story of twins Noah and Jude. It's told in alternating viewpoints, but what makes this book so cool is that Noah's chapters are from the past, and Jude's are from the present. It's the sort of set-up that makes you go, "Wait a minute..." when you think about it too hard, but Nelson pulls it off beautifully. Noah starts the story the summer the twins are thirteen, when both Noah and Jude begin thinking about applying to an arts high school. Jude's story begins three years later, after a tragedy has occurred and the twins have stopped speaking to each other.

I think oftentimes when you have a book with multiple viewpoints, the author tends to gravitate towards one viewpoint as being the protagonist, even if that viewpoint shares the same amount of page time as the others. And even if that's not the author's intention, readers are biased and tend to form attachments to certain characters. I totally expected this to happen to me as I was reading I'll Give You the Sun. I thought that at first, maybe I'd love Noah because he starts the book. But then Jude came blazing onto the page and I was completely swept up into her story and her pain and tragedy. But the entire time that I was reading this book, I loved each character fiercely and equally. I was fully invested into each of the storylines, and I was so, so impressed at how they entwined and surprised, all the way until the end.

I also loved how the love of art and magical realism fed into each other throughout the story. Noah and Jude are both creative and very gifted, but in different, interesting ways. Jude is being haunted, which is why she believes that none of her artwork survives. Noah sees and experiences the world on a another level than most other people. Their search for art and avoidance of the truth and tragedy are what ultimately bring them face to face with each other and what happens at the end of the summer they were thirteen.

The writing is superb, and the imagery is beautiful. The characters are fascinating and flawed. I don't have any more words to describe this book. I'm so happy it won the Printz. Just go read it and love it.

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