Saturday, January 3, 2015

Book Review: I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

Title: I'll Give You the Sun
Author: Jandy Nelson
Enjoyment Rating: *****
Source: Audible
Content Alert: swearing, sex, death of a parent

At thirteen, Noah sees the world through his artwork. Nearly everything important to him shows up in his sketchbook, and his mother, an art history professor seems to truly understand and nurture his gift. His twin, Jude, is the quintessential California surfer girl, a Daddy's girl. Despite the fact that Jude seems to run a little wild, and the two suffer from jealousies, misunderstandings, and crushes on the same boy, they're also incredibly close. When tragedy tears their family apart, their roles in the family seem to reverse, and the book examines two teens in crisis, and how they work their way back toward wholeness.

I'll Give You the Sun is a beautiful book. It's hard to write about without giving too much away, but when we encounter Jude and Noah as sixteen-year-olds, both are carrying incredible guilt for things they've done. While a less adept writer might turn the book sentimental or sermonize about the choices they make, Jandy Nelson tells a story where the twins find a sense of wholeness and learn to embrace the things they love, after a time when neither one feels worthy of love. In the same sort of sobfest vein as The Fault in Our Stars (but even better in a way, because I loved the sibling story), this is a book where love, family, and forgiveness are at the very center of the narrative. It's pretty realistic in its portrayal of struggling teenagers, so it might not be a great choice for more sensitive readers.

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