Book Review: I’ll Give You the Sun

Book Review: I'll Give You the Sun

Regan Mies

20820994Have you ever seen a painting or a sculpture or any piece of artwork and felt drawn to it? Heard a poem and really felt like it meant something? If you could take that feeling, condense it, and turn it into a book, it’d be Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun—a young adult contemporary crafted as a tragedy, romance, and coming of age. It’s a novel about art and desire, superstition and peril, those things we’ve done that we wish we hadn’t, and most of all, what it means to “remake the world.”
Jude and Noah are twins, and although they couldn’t be more different, at thirteen, the two are inseparable from one another. Isolated Noah calls himself a Revolutionist and spends his days painting and avoiding trouble, invested in perfecting his portfolio for a chance to get into one of the best art schools in the nation. Jude wears clothes her parents don’t approve of, flirts with boys, jumps off cliffs, and can’t stand to be alone. Only three years later, the two can hardly look at each other. As the story progresses—Noah narrating from when they were thirteen, and Jude from when they are sixteen—their tangled relationships begin to unfold.
I’ll Give You the Sun is painful and eccentric and real. The characters, even those with smaller roles, are fleshed out completely. They were messy, cruel, heartbreaking, and I genuinely cared about what the characters were going through and what they were feeling. Jude and Noah had distinguishable voices, and Nelson’s choice to alternate from the two being thirteen to being sixteen kept the story fresh. The writing was often swamped in metaphors or fairly abstract, and while this can sometimes drag down a story, I felt like it only added another artistic layer to the novel.
Nelson’s writing left me inspired. I finished the book wanting to go and do or create something. I’ll Give You the Sun is one of the most unique books I’ve read, and I’d wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who wants to read a work of art.