Monday, April 20, 2015

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Reviewed by Meygan Cox

Noah and Jude have a special bond. They can read each other’s mind, finish one another’s sentences, and sense when the other is upset or in danger. No, they don’t have magical powers—they are twins with souls that appear to be intertwined. Aside from loving one another, Noah and Jude also love making art (Noah- drawing and painting; Jude- creating angels from nature) and their artistic, whimsical, beautiful mother. There is not much in life that they love more than their mother. Until one day, life changes. Jude no longer wants to create art. Instead, she wants to wear makeup (lots of it, especially red lipstick), and over time her shorts and skirts get shorter while her sun-like hair grows longer. Her mother keeps asking her if she wants to be “that girl”, which irritates Jude to no end.  Jude can feel herself growing closer and closer to the ocean’s waves and a boy who is older than her and further away from her mother and Noah. 

Meanwhile, Noah meets Brian, an eccentric, brainiac, jock who he can’t help but to fall head over heels in love. While Noah has a hunch that Brian likes him back, Brian doesn’t make a move. Therefore, Noah doesn’t either. Just to rub salt into Noah’s wounds, Brian even starts flirting with girls. Noah can’t help but to feel that Brian is just doing it all as an act to disguise who he is deep down inside. One night, Noah and Brian find themselves at a party playing 7 Minutes in Heaven. But instead of Noah spending his time in Heaven with Brian, a girl by the name of Heather is the lucky winner. After leaving the closest, Noah searches for Brian to tell him how he feels but is flummoxed to see Brian entering the closet with Jude. Something in Noah snaps, and he finds himself ripping up Jude’s artwork and doing anything else that will emotionally destroy her. Needless to say, the family is falling apart and what was once happiness and daydreams has become a cold, harsh reality.

There are so many events that take place into this book that I cannot possibly expand on each dramatic detail. Just when I thought I had reached the climax of the novel, I felt the reading rollercoaster I was on take a plunge and go a completely different way than I had imagined. While I became good at putting together the pieces of information Jude and Noah were telling me, I still found myself gasping or holding my breath, frantically turning the pages to hear the end of the tale. The author’s writing style is nothing less than wonderful. I had never read a Jandy Nelson novel before, but now I must read them all. Her words are like poetry and there were times that I felt like I was reading Dickenson or Whitman. Her quotes are outstanding. Some made me tear up, some made me smile so hard that I felt like my face would crack, and some were like a sucker punch straight to the gut.  It has been a while since I have felt like this about a novel. You know, that feeling of reading a book and falling deeply in love with the story, trying to inhale every word as if it were spring rain. Whoa. That is what this book does to me! 

This book won the 2015 Michael J. Printz award, which is awarded yearly for the best young adult book. Aside from the fact that I could write sonnets about this book, I will sum up my review by saying screaming, “GO READ THIS BOOK!!!”  

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