I'll Give You the Sun
by Jandy Nelson
reviewed by Katrina Manaloto
Jandy Nelson’s contemporary novel I’ll Give You the Sun follows identical twins Noah and Jude at ages 13 and 16. As twin siblings, Noah and Jude naturally grow together as an inseparable pair, but soon find themselves within a whirlwind of change that adolescence brings. The prospect of new high schools, romance, goals of popularity, and questionable sexuality all manage to cause a rift between the close knit siblings. Furthermore, the sibling relationship that was once most important to them becomes even more obsolete as their mother has an affair with an unknown man, prompting Noah and Jude into isolation by leaving them to deal with these problems alone. In Noah and Jude’s struggle with change, readers wait in suspense for the twins to realize that they cannot handle their burdens alone and to rekindle their previously close relationship.
This highly intricate novel alternates between the 13 and 16 year old perspectives of the quirky twin protagonists. In using two separate narrators, a young Noah and an older Jude, Nelson keeps the reader entertained with multiple refreshing personalities rather than a single, one-minded narrator. Additionally, Nelson’s use of perspective expertly reveals snippets of information that, when gathered, foreshadow how all the events and stories connect. Apart from structure, readers will enjoy the emotional clarity Nelson showcases through her simplistic but beautiful writing style. She writes with inspiring integrity and seeks truth in fairly controversial subjects. For example, Nelson showcases her sense of balance when she lets Noah and Jude’s estranged father apologize for his lack of involvement in their lives even after previous negativity towards the subject, saying, “...I think you can sort of slip out of your life and it can be hard to find a way back in… sometimes a good person can make a bad decision” (Nelson 358). Nelson’s writing style also utilizes devices such as metaphors and similes in order to achieve her distinctive earnest and hopeful tone.
Moreover, Nelson deftly uses familiar experiences and surroundings to explain a complex subject like love in a way all readers can relate to and understand. A prime example of her exceptional manipulation of literary device and familiarity is when she writes, “Meeting your soul mate is like walking into a house you've been in before - you will recognize the furniture, the pictures on the wall, the books on the shelves, the contents of drawers: You could find your way around in the dark if you had to” (Nelson 221). Nelson’s novel surpassed all of my expectations; her expert use of perspective and lyrical writing style impressed me immensely and left me utterly satisfied. Nelson’s pride in her craft is evident in the words she weaved an exceptional and dynamic novel with. It was poetic, breathtaking, passionate, and kept me wanting more from start to finish. As an avid lover of contemporary novels, I can confirm that this novel exceeds many books of the same genre and will please readers of all interests. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson contains characters and stories that fly off the page and evoke emotions from all over the spectrum; it is a novel truly worth anyone’s time.