Review: I'll give you the sun (Jandy Nelson)
I might actually call this book one of my favourites although I’m not the kind of person to have favourites because that would actually require a decision and I’m awful at decisions. But I’m also not the kind of person to read books several times unless I’ve forgotten at least either most of the content or the ending and I’ve still read this book three times in only four months which must mean something.
In her preface of “I’ll give you the sun” Jandy Nelson writes: “This is a story about love, crazy complicated love of all kinds: between guys and girls, guys and guys, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, artists and their art, the living and the dead, but mostly it’s about the fierce, roller-coaster love between the twins themselves.” That is certainly true but I would add that it’s also about guilt and forgiving, which is of course closely linked to love.
The protagonists of the story are the twins, Noah and Jude, both have great artistic talents although each in his or her very own way. Nelson explains: “Noah is this flood in a paper cup. He has a mad desire to draw, to peel the blue off the sky, to be the blue in the sky. And Jude. She used to surf and cliff-dive and do the talking for both of them, but something’s happened, and now she’s gone quiet and is living with ghosts and following her grandmother’s ‘bible’ of superstitions.”
This is also the first thing that I love so much about “I’ll give you the sun”: The characters are created so realistically that you come to think of them as real people, as friends. In my opinion this is because they are not stereotypically reduced to one or two character traits but their personalities show more and more different aspects while you get to know them better. I belief this can only be done by adding details to the characters, details I’d never be able to come up with and which therefore make the characters more realistic. Such details are for example Noah’s zoological knowledge and the way he brings it in conversations randomly, Jude’s interest in diseases and how she metaphorically diagnoses them or Brian’s fascination with astronomy and especially meteorites.
The second reason why I recommend this novel is that Noah and Jude take turns in telling the story and the trick Nelson uses to create suspense is that Noah begins to tell the story when he is thirteen and then gets older along with the events while Jude tells from her point of view when she is sixteen, towards the end of the story. This way she is looking back on the events and Noah is experiencing everything “in real time” so that the reader gets different pieces of information from different perspectives that add up to what really happened. What is more, neither twin knows the whole story nor do the other characters so that for them as well information comes together as a puzzle and “the truth”, a bit as in a detective novel, only comes out in the end.
To conclude, "I'll give you the sun" is a wonderful, touching story written in a beautiful language that makes it easy to relate to the characters but it's also exciting till the very last page. I can only recommend it everyone: whether you are at the age of the twins or an adult doesn't matter at all!