I’ll Give You the Sun is a gem, a masterpiece, a book that is not like anything I’ve ever read before. It’s poetic, gripping, heart-wrenching and so beautiful! I recommend it with all my heart.
This book has won just about any prize that exist (Printz Award, Stonewall Honor, YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction, Rainbow List Top Ten etc.) and I completely understand why. This book deserves all the love in the world!
Storywise, I’ll Give You the Sun is a young adult coming-of-age novel, which follows the lives of non-identical twins Noah and Jude Sweetwine at the ages of 13, 14, and 16. The early years are written from Noah’s point of view whereas the later years are written from Jude’s. Up until age 13 the twins are best friends, so close that they are more or less the same person. Then something happens that turns them into bitter enemies. The story is not linear, instead the early and later years are mixed, to give us a hint of what might happen or how something Noah describes in the early years have consequences from Jude’s perspective and vice versa. It also gives you a much deeper understanding of how the schism between the twins happens and why.
It’s also a wonderful love story (or several parallel ones actually) and a story about becoming who you truly are. Noah is struggling with coming out to himself and to others about being gay and in love with the boy next door, the charismatic Brian. Jude on the other hand is on a boy boycott when she meets the arrogant and broken, yet beautiful Oscar. Then there’s the underlaying love story that isn’t completely revealed until the very end.
But what’s so completely different with this book is the stunning way it is written. Not just the beautiful language but there’s such uniqueness in the way the words are used and how art is integrated in the story. Especially Noah’s parts are written with metaphors and with paintings describing what’s happening and how Noah feels as an outsider, explaining in such an amazing way how he misinterprets social codes. Noah’s love story was so heartbreaking and emotional to read whenever things didn’t go his way due to his difficulty figuring out his sexuality and other people’s reactions. And Jude, I loved her fierceness and humor, and how she had all these fun dialogues with her grandma’s ghost in her mind, and also out loud sometimes.
As the story evolves it is clear that Jude and Noah have done so many things to hurt each other and others as well. Really bad things. Almost unforgivable things. And there are so many secrets that just have to come tumbling out eventually. So much misunderstandings and heart-aches. All of the characters have to overcome their pasts and learn to trust and forgive (each other as well as themselves). And to dare to love again and to allow themselves to be loved. The heartbreaking story unravels slowly but in a way that gets you so attached to these characters. I felt for them so so much! There were parts that I almost didn’t dare to read, being so afraid of the pain and hurt I suspected was coming the characters’ way…
I’ll Give You the Sun might just be one of the most beautiful, awe inspiring books I’ve ever read. It might take a little while to get into it and fully grip the language as it is so unusual in its writing, but it is so worth it. So worth it! I promise. This is one of my absolute favorite reads of all time!
Find out more about the book and the author here: Jandy Nelson