I’ll Give You the Sun is a book that is going to stick around with me for a long time I think, maybe forever. After I finished reading it, I cried because I was done reading it. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before with a YA book, not trying to knock YA too hard but it’s sometimes hard to find the “literature” part in some of the YA lit I’ve been reading. Not so here. Jandy Nelson’s writing is amazing, the word choice, the magical realism, the characters–everything just WORKS and works to the point where your heart breaks and swells for all the characters involved in this messy, messy thing called life. It also makes sense that I feel so connected to this book because today is an anniversary of a personal tragedy that occurs in the book as well. I didn’t even think about that until this moment, I actually came back to edit my review after the realization. I’m kind of floored that I blocked out the similarity until now. It’s weird what games our brains play on us to keep us safe. Ok, I can breathe again. Let’s talk about the plot a little because regardless of the connection I have with it, it’s a really great book.
Noah and Jude are twins and they are very close even though they are very different. Noah is more introverted and an artist, mentally painting the world as he moves along in it. His mother helps him prep for the future at CSA (a private art school) that he cannot wait to attend, often sneaking down to sketch the models through the windows. He’s on the outside, but is bursting to be on the inside and join the other artists AND CREATE MORE ART! His sister Jude is a gorgeous daredevil. She’d be the first to jump off the bluff into the ocean, she surfs and she creates her flying sand women because she too, is an artist.
Flash forward two years and we find the twins no longer close. Jude is attending CSA, and is an artist. Noah no longer creates art and is on the track team at the local public high school. Jude has cut her hair,and is hiding beneath baggy clothes and talking to her dead grandmother while following the rules of the “family bible” (a guide to life created by grandmother full of wisdom and legend). Noah spends most of his time with his friend Kimberly and both twins avoid each other like the plague. As we jump back and forth between the two timelines we learn what has happened and how through walling themselves off from one another, lies and pain continue to create a chasm between them. How they bridge it individually, heals more than just them and their relationship.
Read this book. I went onto my fb page for my book club and shouted that everyone needs to read this book. I love it so much, I can’t wait to read it again. If I could give the book more than five stars, I’d give it the sun. For real.