Bookish | I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (Review)

25065433“We were all heading for each other on a collision course, no matter what. Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.”

At first, Jude and her twin brother are NoahandJude; inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them.

Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor.

The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant, award-winning novel from the acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

I read this book for my Adolescent Lit class.

Personal Enjoyment: ●○○○○
Writing Quality: ●●●●○
Recommendability: ●●○○○

I feel I’ve started most of the reviews for books I’ve read for my Adolescent Lit class with “this is not something I would pick up on my own.” This book in particular has been hyped like crazy, which is enough to turn me off of a thing, but usually the only contemporary books I enjoy are the hyped ones. Still, I’ve passed on this book so many times before and I wish I could go back in time to pass on it again.

Let’s start with a positive: the writing in this book is beautiful. Very metaphorical with a whole lot of magical realism. There were art metaphors and superstitions and ghosts and I could have sworn those black and white pages were drenched in vibrant color. The author knows how to weave words together…

Unfortunately, I don’t think the story or characters were worth wasting words on. This book was, in a word, predictable. The author would introduce a mystery or a question, but then proceed to hint so heavily toward the answer that I would figure out plot twists ages ahead of time. If this book was a meal, it would be a single lettuce leaf of substance drowning in the pool of dressing that is metaphorical, flowery language. Not very filling, more than a little off-putting.

The characters were more or less developed (Jude and Noah and their mother in particular, not so much any of the side characters). However, they were all such spiteful, petty, overdramatic people. The twins were supposed to have been close at some point in their lives, but you never actually get to see that in the book. I didn’t care about them coming back together as a family because, as far as I know, they’ve always hated and backstabbed each other. I hated them, not because they were one-dimensional, but because they were terrible, mean people. I didn’t want them to crash and burn, I just didn’t want to be reading about them at all.

This is also one of those books which wouldn’t even exist if the characters knew the meaning of communication. I’m not talking about drama and circumstances arising from miscommunication; Noah and Jude just avoid speaking to each other, ever.

Of course, this is a contemporary, so both characters get their respective romances. Oscar, Jude’s love interest, was a stereotypical English guy we’ve seen in a billion other stories, but also kind of a jerk. Like “I love you, I want to be with you, but I’m going to make out with this (these) other girl(s) because whatever.” Meanwhile, Jude is hiding in his closet because that’s what reasonable humans do, right? A lot of their “romance” consisted of them yelling at each other out of jealousy, but then almost-kissing because insta-love.

Noah and the “boy next door” Brian were a little more interesting, but because of the flowery and intense language, their scenes felt almost… pornographic. That’s not a word which should ever be used in conjunction with two thirteen-year-old boys. And, okay, I’m aware that budding sexuality is kind of a difficult subject, and maybe I’m just being naive. I still thought their romance read like m/m slashfiction written by a woman who has definitely never been a gay teenage boy. It felt dishonest.

Technically, I haven’t finished this book. I’m about 60 pages from the end, which I skim-read.

You might like this book. Based on the quality of the writing alone, I can see why people like this book. All-in-all, I just need a little more substance and characters I can root for, one way or another.


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One thought on “Bookish | I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (Review)

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