I’ll Give You The Sun is the story of twins, Jude and Noah. They used to be incredibly close but the death of their mother when they were thirteen drove them apart. Now, Noah is living a life that isn't really his and Jude looking down the barrel of getting kicked out of school. What Jude and Noah don't realise is that they both only have half the story and if they can mend their relationship they might be able to remake their world.
So first I want to talk about the characters. Like The Sky Is Everywhere, I’ll Give You The Sun is a characters study. Told in a dual POV across two timelines, Jude and Noah’s voices come across just perfectly and I couldn’t help but fall in love with them both. They both experience so much pain, not just from the death of their mum (although obviously that’s a big part) but also from other things that happen to them. Noah is gay and although he feels comfortable with who he is, he falls for a boy who isn’t ready to openly acknowledge their feelings for each other. His relationship with his dad is strained and he is far closer to his artist mum. Jude feels neglected by her mum and retaliates by acting out.
There are also some really well-written secondary characters, who are also suffering in their own way. You have all these characters who, at the beginning of the book, don’t seem to have that much of a connection. Even the people who are related, like Jude and Noah, are drifting along in this kind of grown-apart silence. Then, as the present-day and the three-years-ago stories unfold, you start to see the connections and the way their narratives interweave. The unhappy narrative strands pull tighter and tighter together until you just know that everything is going to end up exploding.
And okay, there wasn’t really the cataclysmic explosion I was expecting, but Jandy Nelson did this really cool thing where she prolonged the climax over a few chapters, gradually dropping revelations and opening up secrets until you seriously wonder how she’s going to manage to give us any resolution.
But here’s a spoiler: we do get resolution. The ending was good and all the loose ends got tied up nicely. In fact, I think pretty much everyone got an HEA and while that can sometimes annoy me (because I’m mean) in this case it worked because all the characters had spent three years being put completely through the wringer. I think they deserved a bit of happiness at the end!
And in fact, it’s not just the ending that’s good - the whole plot is great. Considering it’s a character-driven book, the plot doesn’t suffer one iota. I didn’t feel like there were any lulls, no bits where I’d put the book down and find something else to do. And she not only uses two voices, but also two timelines. When you look at it objectively, what she has done is pretty impressive.
Finally, the writing. God, Jandy Nelson is talented. Her writing style is almost intimidatingly sublime. I was reading this book and letting her perfectly-chosen words wash over me and seriously, it was like I was in northern California, a place I know virtually nothing about. And not to sound like a stalker, but I’ve decided I want to curl up into a little ball live in Jandy Nelson’s pocket, having her read me stories all day.
So yes. A great start to 2016. Well worth a read.