Book Review: I’ll Give You the Sun

By Kelsi Taylor

“Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways…until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realise is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.”

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I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson is a coming of age story that follows the lives of two twins, Noah and Jude, from age 13 to 16 capturing how tragedy and grief can drive people apart from other people and their past selves. I’ll Give You the Sun explores the concepts of love, loss and how our lives can represent art; both messy and beautiful.

Nelson alternates telling the story through both Noah and Jude’s point of view; with Noah telling the story from age 13 of how life led to the twins falling apart and Jude at age 16 telling of what drove them to come back together. The characters created by Nelson convey a clear message to the reader about the journeys we undergo and the struggles we must face as we go through life, teaching us that it is okay to rely on each other for stability as long as you still know how to stand on your own.

Noah is an imaginative and shy teen who sees everything in life as a piece of art and undergoes a severe setback after being rejected from his dream school, learning that we don’t always get what we want in life but everything happens for a reason. His story is one of love and disappointment as well as the fear of being your authentic self; dealing with issues such as bullying and equality for the LGBT+ community.

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Jude is a yellow-haired, surfer chick capturing the attention of everyone she meets who transforms into a held-back, suspicious teen consulting with only the whacky ghost of her grandmother as she tries to come to terms with both her guilt and grief. Jude’s story is about coping with our past decisions and coming to terms with the present, teaching the reader that life goes on despite our own actions and sometimes we must take life into our own hands.

This book tells the story of betrayal and finding your way around obstacles, while many readers may not be able to relate to the level of grief faced by the twins’, problems such as identifying with family and finding your first love are relevant to a much wider audience and I would definitely recommend the read to anyone who enjoys teen stories about love and life.

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