I'll Give You the Sun

by Jandy Nelson

Hardcover, 2014

Collection

Publication

Dial Books (2014), Edition: First Edition first Printing, 384 pages

Description

"A story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal told from different points in time, and in separate voices, by artists Jude and her twin brother Noah"--

User reviews

LibraryThing member fromthecomfychair
Blew me away. Didn't expect a page-turner from this brother-sister twins coming-of-age, family tragedy story, but I consumed it in a couple of days once I started. All of the main characters are well-developed and multi-dimensional. The chapters alternate between the twins: Jude at 16, which is the present, and Noah at 13-14, the past. I don't know how the author pulled off this sleight of hand, and with such poetic prose, but she did. Now I see why it got the Printz Award for 2015. I'd recommend this to teen bookclubs with more mature teens, adults who read YA fiction, LGTBQ teens and adults. It really packs an emotional wallop. Would make a great movie too.… (more)
LibraryThing member nbmars
This outstanding book just blew me away. It’s about a set of fraternal twins, a boy Noah and a girl Jude, who take turns narrating the story. And it’s about the power of art to inform perspective, not just in a medium, but as a medium, as a way of interpreting the world. And in fact, Noah and Jude’s parents grow apart as their epistemology diverges: their dad, a doctor, is wedded to the empirical while their mom embraces the spiritual, and all its messy glorious manifestation in color and form.

Jude and Noah have always been so close that they feel like they are only half-people when apart; together, they make up one complete and whole person. But at age thirteen, as the two prepare to apply for a special school for the arts, there are radical changes in their lives, and by the time they are sixteen, they barely speak to one another. Noah’s chapters are from the time they are thirteen, and Jude’s from when they are sixteen. But they carry the action forward linearly, nevertheless. And as the story progresses, all the secrets about the lives of the characters gradually come to light.

Discussion: There are a number of love stories that go on simultaneously in this book, about several different kinds of love. They are all brimming with intense emotion and hope and hurt and surprise, and range from the split-apart whole of the twins to the idea of soulmates who are split apart by the gods, and spend their lives looking for each other. Only the luckiest humans succeed in finding them.

There are also interconnected themes about being true to one’s soul; the wisdom or folly of showing that inner spirit to someone else; and the way an artist can reveal someone’s inner self by studying someone enough to see it. It is only then that the face comes alive, and no matter how simple or few the lines, no matter how “realistic” or “impressionistic,” people can recognize the essence of the person in the portrait.

Noah, who has a wonderful self-deprecating sense of humor, describes many of his experiences by what a portrait of someone would look like at any particular moment: “Self-Portrait: The Boy Hiding Inside the Boy Hiding Inside the Boy”; “Portrait: Mom and Dad with Screeching Tea Kettles for Heads”; “Portrait: Jude Braiding Boy After Boy into Her Hair”.”

Jude, on the other hand, exposes her innermost thoughts by conversations with her dead grandmother, and by spouting quotations from the sayings her grandmother collected in her bible. Jude is also very funny in a different way than Noah, using superstition to try to control reality, because a more reason-based approach hasn’t been working out so well.

Evaluation: I could go on and on about the many wonderful aspects of this book, but I would hate to give it all away. Though the subjects covered in this book are heavy ones: death, grief, betrayal, homosexuality, jealousy, and fractured family dynamics - at the same time, this is a book of soaring positive emotions: passion, love, friendship, and forgiveness; all drawn (in a double sense) with talent, humor and compassion. I went through almost a whole packet of stickies marking passages I wanted to remember, including some that took my breathe away with their unexpectedness or cleverness or insight. Highly recommended!

Note: This book won the prestigious 2015 Printz Award.
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LibraryThing member A_Reader_of_Fictions
For more reviews, Cover Snark and more, visit A Reader of Fictions.

This book is fucking beautiful. I just cannot even with how amazing this book actually is. If you loved The Sky Is Everywhere, I think that you’ll love I’ll Give You the Sun too. Nelson’s working through a lot of the same subject matter in this one: family, grief, sex. There’s that poetic feel to the writing that runs between both novels too. In I’ll Give You the Sun, I feel like Nelson’s just gotten more talented. I’ll Give You the Sun does rather feel like it’s shining to life beneath your fingers, giving you the sun in the world of Noah and Jude.

You know a book is fabulous when I love it despite an almost 100 page chapter. My attention span is not long. I’ll Give You the Sun wrapped me in its sway immediately. Both Noah and Jude have such unique points of view, and they both positively burst with life. Both perspectives held my interest fully. Noah’s POV follows the past events leading up to their mother’s death, the breaking of the family. Jude’s perspective follows the current timeline and depicts them finally dealing with everything that happened two years before. Like Jude’s art for so many years, the novel is the breaking and then the gluing back together into something more beautiful for its cracks.

I’ll Give You the Sun bursts with color, rather like the cover suggests. I’ll Give You the Sun is full of artists. Their mother was an art critic. Jude sculpts. Noah paints and sketches. Then there’s Guillermo Garcia, a master carver Jude goes to for an apprenticeship. I, for one, am almost entirely lacking in artistic talent. I tend not to even be all that interested in art. Yet somehow these perspectives really brought the art to life. Noah constantly paints in his head, coming up with portraits and self-portraits he wants to do. They’re interpretations of his emotions and I could see them so vividly, his artistic impulse shared with me. With Jude and Guillermo, you can feel the art trying to come out of the stone. One of my favorite things about reading is when a book can make me care about something I don’t and really truly make me feel like I intrinsically understand what it would be like to be someone different. What is it like to have an artistic impulse? THIS.

Much like The Sky Is Everywhere, the drama is high. I could see this being distancing for some readers. There are affairs and scandals and betrayals and misunderstandings. Rather like the writing, which could easily have felt purple and overblown, it all just feels so right and perfect. Jude and Noah have such strong personalities. They’re the sort of people to live large and live strange. They were never going to live quiet ordinary lives, so the drama really fits. If you told me about what happened, I would probably roll my eyes, but in context everything just works.

One of my obsessions is magical realism, and I’ll Give You the Sun has this in spades. Jude interacts with the ghost of her grandmother and is haunted by the ghost of her mother, who breaks her sculptures. Noah believes the ghost of his mother holds him up when he cliff dives. Jude’s perspective is riddled with family wisdom, little spells to ward off love or increase it and any number of other things. Obviously, you can believe that Jude’s just crazy, but I prefer to believe there’s a little magic in the world. Also, I love that Jude and her grandmother call God Clark Gable. OMFCG, it’s so much fun.

Both twins have romances. Personally, I prefer Noah’s, which should be a surprise to no one. For one thing, Jude and Oscar instalove all over one another. Yeah, I didn’t rate down for that. Again, it’s something that feels really right in context, but it’s still not a massive ship for me. Noah’s romance with Brian, however, is a slow burn and when they finally kiss it is fucking hot. Thank you, Jandy Nelson, for that really wonderful gay kiss scene, because YES.

I really don’t have that much more to say to try to describe this book to you and explain why I loved it so much. It’s something you really have to experience, to let wash over you like sunshine or waves. On paper, I don’t think it will ever sound as good as it actually is. I’ll Give You the Sun is a book that will either work for you, holding you in its sway and capturing your imagination, or that very much won’t. I really hope I don’t have to wait another four years for the next Jandy Nelson novel, but I will wait however long I must.
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LibraryThing member lilibrarian
Jude and Noah are amazing close fraternal twins although they are opposite in many ways. But things that happen when they are 13 - first loves, loss and secrets - change them both, their family and their relationships between themselves and the world.
LibraryThing member DavidO1103
Nice story about twins, and their very close relationship, fights, eventual rejoining. BOth extreebely artistic, as was their mother. Boy twin struggles with his sexual identity. Some funny, some moving.
LibraryThing member BethYacoub
This book earned every one of these 5 stars, 5 times over!!! It now cozily resides among my top favorite books of all time. That's right, I said it, OF ALL TIME! The world building and character development are so superb that I was brought to tears many times by the absolute magnitude of their perfection (yes , today there are degrees of perfection)! The writing is so beautiful/kooky/emotional that it not only replaces your eyes with whole new ones but reaches into your very soul and redecorates...complete nuclear radiation of light filling in any and all dark/neglected/ pain laden crevices and embracing all the bright and shiny spots. My only complaint is that it did not last longer. I wanted (no needed) more...more time with the perfectly humanly flawed characters in their multi-hued / amazingly detailed world of awesomeness. I DEFINITELY DEFINITELY ( 100 definitelys) recommend this book to anyone that loves a unique, gripping, soul redecorating, rollercoaster ride.… (more)
LibraryThing member katie1802
Jandy Nelson cannot be real.
Just can't.

Right now, she's two for two in terms of gut wrenching books that make me want to weep because God only knows what I'm feeling.

Sometimes, when a book makes me really happy and giddy and just downright excited, I have to close it. Get up, walk around a little bit and release some of the energy that has become pent up inside me, making my chest fit to burst with emotions I constantly fail to put a name to.

Then I open it back up and plunge forward.

I'll Give You the Sun has all of that in spades.

Essentially, this is two novels. Two companions spliced and jumbled up together and somehow they end up in the same place. Sort of like Noah and Jude themselves, I suppose. It's a slow burner at first, but slowly you become entwined in the story and like that, you find yourself taking two steps back and being thrown into the other twins story. Other authors would have failed catastrophically, Nelson does this like it's nothing.

Anyone who has read Allegiant will know what I'm talking about when I say that sometimes, novels with multiple perspectives faceplant hard when it comes to making the characters voices sound distinct.

Not even close to an issue here. Noah and Jude's voices are so different it's almost jarring. With Jude, it's all YA angst and superstitions. With Noah, it's murderous hyperbole and WTF-worthy lines that make you do a doubletake to make sure he wasn't actually being literal. It's mesmerising, honestly.

I have to declare a certain bias here. I think I enjoyed Noah's half of the story more. It was painful and heartfelt and made me want to crawl inside myself just so I could even begin to cope with the things he was going through. His romance with Brian was one of the most honest and real depictions of love I've ever had the pleasure of encountering in a novel. Everything else just seems boring and fake in comparison.

But Jude's side was wonderful too, and obviously drove most of the plot. I'm not sure if I'm as enamored with her romance as I was with Noah's, but there was a lovely honesty present here too. Just raw emotion laid bare with no trickery. Oscar wore his scars on his sleeve, there was no mistaking him for a less damaged individual.

The way the the two stories came together was emotionally brutal. I love that while the threads of their individual stories were incredibly distinct, they needed to come together eventually in order to tie up and finally be complete.
Just like Noah and Jude.

Two particular characters permeated throughout the two plots, catalysts for pretty much the whole novel. I really adored this aspect. The idea that if something major hadn't happened, ie.Diana hadn't died, that these characters would have found their way into the lives of Noah and Jude anyway, just like fate, was incredibly uplifting. Because of this, the twins could finally let go of all their guilt and pain, knowing that all along, things are as they were meant to be. That no matter how hard they tried to hurt each other, the story was always going to end in the same place.

Honestly, I came to this book with major expectations. The Sky is Everywhere was a big favourite of mine and I figured this wouldn't be any different. The similarities are glaring enough. Lennie wrote poetry to express her feelings towards life and her sister, dotted throughout the chapters. Noah derives ideas for portraits from his encounters with others and Jude has a piece of "bible" wisdom for every situation imaginable.

Mostly, it was the theme of family, particularly sibling relationships that is common to both books that really stood out for me. YA authors just don't write about siblings like this. It's all about the soul consuming romance and it gets goddamn tiresome. But these siblings, they're real and familiar to me. Sibling relationships are undervalued and unappreciated in this genre. Nelson is breaking down a wall I've wanted to see blown to shit for quite some time now.

This is probably the last book I will finish in 2014 (not a very prolific reading year for me), and it's not a bad way to end.

I eagerly await Nelson's next effort, which probably will take forever to arrive (perfection takes time).
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LibraryThing member Ericanneri
I finally understand! I saw this book all over book tube and wondered "is it really that good?" Well it is! It was like nothing that I had ever read before. Every one of the characters had their flaws, their mistakes but you couldn't help but love them because they were real. It was also the first time I ever read a book with a gay narrator, and it was refreshing to read through his perspective. I could guess some of the twists in the story, but others caught me by surprise. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read something different, refreshing, and charming.… (more)
LibraryThing member pataustin
Jude and Noah are fraternal twins, who both love art and want to get into the local art school. In this brilliantly told novel, changing between narration from Noah's point of view (at age 13) and Jude's point of view (age 16), the reader has to shift back in forth in time sequences --- remembering sometimes and putting two and two together when Noah's past and Jude's present three years later help make sense of their current situation. The age, for each protagonist, is at a pivotal life point. (Watch out for some spoiler alerts).Noah tells the story at 13 when their mother died, when he didn't get into art school, and when he discovers his sexuality. Jude tells her story from a turning point moment as well. Jude is in art school but wants to drop out: nothing is going right. She decides instead that she absolutely must study with a brooding sculptor who appears to be a bit of a has-been. Plot points of past and present collide and crash to the reader's astounded delight.

I have to admit that the book took me a while to get into, but that said more about my mood at the time I was reading than the book itself, which is lyrically told.
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LibraryThing member BethYacoub
This book earned every one of these 5 stars, 5 times over!!! It now cozily resides among my top favorite books of all time. That's right, I said it, OF ALL TIME! The world building and character development are so superb that I was brought to tears many times by the absolute magnitude of their perfection (yes , today there are degrees of perfection)! The writing is so beautiful/kooky/emotional that it not only replaces your eyes with whole new ones but reaches into your very soul and redecorates...complete nuclear radiation of light filling in any and all dark/neglected/ pain laden crevices and embracing all the bright and shiny spots. My only complaint is that it did not last longer. I wanted (no needed) more...more time with the perfectly humanly flawed characters in their multi-hued / amazingly detailed world of awesomeness. I DEFINITELY DEFINITELY ( 100 definitelys) recommend this book to anyone that loves a unique, gripping, soul redecorating, rollercoaster ride.… (more)
LibraryThing member ewyatt
Jude and Noah are suffering and their relationship is strained. Close twins before they started competed for their mom's affection and devastated after her death. They need each other but are having a hard time finding their way back. They both get a chance to tell their stories at age 13 and at age 16.
I really like the way the stories, characters intertwine. A powerful read.… (more)
LibraryThing member Helena81
Beautifully written: humorous and with a light touch. I adored this book, and Noah and Jude are such endearing, heart-breaking characters. One caveat: some of the sexual events surrounding Jude are troubling, and I'm not sure those events are adequately dealt with.
LibraryThing member EdGoldberg
There are some books that are so hard to describe and I’ll Give You the SunIllGiveYouThesun by Jandy Nelson (the 2015 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature) is one of them. So the best thing for me to do is keep my description very brief, lest I ruin the book for you. Jude and Noah are twins. At the beginning of the book, at age 13, they are as close as twins can be, knowing how the other feels, thinking what the other thinks without verbally communicating.

Noah is a geek with few friends. He draws constantly, both in his mind and on paper. Jude is beautiful and popular, and as most teenagers will, she rebels against her mother by wearing short dresses and lots of make-up. She too has artistic talent.

Jude sees the ghost of her paternal grandmother, Grandma Sweetwine, on occasion (as did her mother). Grandma Sweetwine compiled a ‘bible’ of home remedies, superstitions and more, such as “A person in possession of a four leaf clover is able to thwart all sinister influences.” Jude believes these remedies and carries onions around for good luck or sucks lemons to dampen love.

But things change very quickly.

There are so many things that make this book special, the least of which is that Noah’s story starts at age 13 and Jude’s starts at age 16. Each of the characters have such distinct personalities. They are each hiding something major that will have a huge impact on other family members. Some of the characters seem larger than life. Noah talks in colors. Jude talks in home remedies. Grandma Sweetwine floats around in flowery dresses.

Nelson’s use of language, especially when describing what Noah sees and feels is unique. Her plot is unusual. Her characters are vivid. While I found the beginning a little slow going, by page 50 or so I didn’t want to put it down. So, if you’re looking for a book like no other that you’ve read, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson will be that book.
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LibraryThing member freeluna
As a very left-brained person, I thought this book was really interestingly written. I take the world and my environment literally, but these artists view the world metaphorically and through emotional lenses. My heart broke over and over reading this one, because the way it was written made you really understand the tragedy over what they were going through, even before you had all of the information. It was fitting that the twins only had half of the story each.… (more)
LibraryThing member mamzel
I had serious problems with this book. I appreciate that the kids suffered the loss of their mother after discovering that their parents were breaking up but I can't accept that they were good reasons for lies, destruction, spying, jealousy, and other poor behavior exhibited by the two protagonists.

Jude and Noah are twins and both are very artistic. The story is told from alternate points of view and jumps back and forth in time. They live in a small coastal town that is host to an art school that Noah is dying to get into. He believes that his homosexual feelings will be more accepted there and he will be more comfortable. After her mother dies, Jude cuts her hair and is not seen outside dressed in anything but oversized, baggy clothes. She is observing a boycott and refuses to allow boys to become part of her life. Sure.

As close as they are, things (a guy, art school, etc.) come between the twins and misunderstandings and miscommunications result in epically terrible events. If these kids were in any normal household they would have been locked up in a basement.

Having been awarded a Printz award I was hoping for a much better story here and I find myself disappointed.
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LibraryThing member mfdavis
I liked this book...metaphors and all. I listened on CD & I think that is key to keeping the voices straight.
LibraryThing member LisMB
LOVE!! This book was different. Not what I expected.
LibraryThing member klack128
This. Book. Was. Magic.

Seriously -- I have not been this enamored or engrossed in a read in quite a while. It was one of those books that was just so good, I'm almost hesitant to jump into another read right away -- it was a book that I didn't want to end, because I know I probably won't read something as fantastic in a long time.

Noah and Jude were both vibrant, amazing characters. The way the novel was written was so vivid and beautiful. Even though a lot of the novel is about art, I didn't need to know about art or physically see Noah's art in the book to be able to picture it vividly. The titles of Noah's artwork throughout his portions of the book were so easily brought to life in my mind through his descriptions, and the knowledge of what he was going through in the book.

Similarly, in Jude's sections of the novel, I was able to easily envision her unique look, as well as picture Oscar and Guillermo easily.

I don't really want to say anything specific about the storyline, because I think there is a magic in not knowing...but it was such a beautiful book about love, fate, truth, magic (both perceived and real), and the connections we have to one another and the world.

This book was beautiful and unique and so very worth a read.
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LibraryThing member rdwhitenack
Jude and Noah, a set of twins grew up vet close, but at 14 years old have some traumatic events happen which changes rheir relationship. The story, alternating narrators between Noah at 13 and Jude at 16, addresses the means needed for teens to rebuild their relationship.

Started off not liking the book, then started liking it, and then it sort of started falling apart again. I love the way Nelson wrote this book, her talent is clear, but I just couldn't relate to Jude and didn't care much for Noah (his unconventionality was just a lot too much for me). Some of the major plot twist were too predictable, and there a few too many connections between the characters, sometimes inexplicably and unnecessarily.

Tough to suggest to young teens, due to language, length, and sexual imagery.

A good book, that I wish I just liked a little more.
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LibraryThing member mountie9
Such a truly perfect YA novel, I am bereft that I do not have the right words to express how beautiful this novel is. Honest and so very raw and real. Love and admired the story from Noah`s point of view, it shows how being homosexual is no different from being heterosexual, especially when you are a teen and confused about so much. Done in such a way that never sounds preachy or with an agenda, just that it is real and it is right. A truly beautiful coming of age story that should be a must read for everyone. This is perfection people. Thanks again Jen, for bringing this one to my attention. Honestly, I think this should be in every school library. FYI, you will cry at some point during this one.… (more)
LibraryThing member mochap
Amazing story of twin artists who blow apart and come back together. A must read
LibraryThing member thessaly
Not perfect by any means, but beautifully told. Twins who connect, disconnect, and connect again. I wasn't compelled through the story, but it was very touching. I look forward to what Jandy Nelson writes next.
LibraryThing member Brainannex
So very, very good. The rhythm of Noah took me a bit to get used to but once I got over that little bump, this book blossomed into an amazing read. I can already feel myself getting ticked in January if it doesn't get some ALA attention.
LibraryThing member EllsbethB
This book is full of vivid visualizations and a cacophony of emotion. I enjoyed it.
LibraryThing member alsparks
Noah and Jude are twins. Their lives have been intertwined since inception. A series of events have put a wall between them. Can they work their way back to each other? A novel filled with twists and turns. The twins unknowingly protect each other as they work through the divorce of their parents and eventually learn the secrets they were protecting each other from. The title is derived from a game they play. Started a little slow for me but picked up steam. Written from the perspective of the twins and alternates chapter by chapter. Good story of relationships and how the truth can sometimes elude us and trying to help can actually make things worse.… (more)

Pages

384

ISBN

0803734964 / 9780803734968

Lexile

L
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