I really hit the jackpot a few times this past year. There were some really outstanding books that I had the good fortune to read. For a change, I have been enjoying quite a bit of contemporary fiction; not a bit of fantasy in those chapters. This is the heart-wrenching kind; the variety that makes you feel, sometimes in surprising ways. So, following in that vein, I am glad to make an extraordinary book my first read of 2015.
I’ll Give You the Sun is the story of Jude and Noah, boy and girl twins whose relationship changes once they start keeping secrets from each other. They used to be very close, the kind of twins who can communicate without words. Then, one night, their mother dies in a car accident. It tells of how they, along with their father, deal with her death along with unresolved issues regarding self-image, how others see you, what you give, what you hold back and betrayal. How people tear themselves apart, re-assemble to hide the dark, mushy interiors, only to find themselves unable to escape the past, the present or the future. How, perhaps, the bad parts were always going to happen and the future still hasn’t changed no matter what. About maybe believing in ghosts, superstitions, the stars, family – and knowing when not to. And when to forgive, let things go and move on.
The story alternates between the twins, and they can’t hide the truth from you, O Trusted Reader (though you get it piecemeal). The writing is that kind that has a little extra something, whether it’s the quotes from their family “bible” (If you dream you’re taking a bath, you will fall in love) or the way Noah sees the world in paintings and their titles (Self Portrait: Boy Remakes World Before World Remakes Boy). It’s the kind of writing that epitomizes showing, not telling. It makes you feel the story, like you are living in it.
Didja Like It?: I know that’s a messy jumble of words, but though it is a simple theme, there is so much going on in this story. There are love and loss in many, many different forms; the romantic kind, the parental kind, the sibling kind. There are misunderstandings, misinterpretations, misjudgements.
I haven’t read anything like this. It is infused with heartache and clarity and shackles and bonds. It’s got emotion at crazy highs and desperate lows. It’s about giving up all to gain everything. It’s about chances, second chances and last chances. It’s magical and scientific.
To Read or Not To Read: This is the book to read. You’ll want to absorb it into your heart, make sure everyone knows that you care about them, and do all the right things for the rest of your life.
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson was published September 16, 2014 by Dial Books. Ink and Page picked this book up from the library, and will forever thank the book gods for guiding her to it.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction Contemporary Romance LBGTQ+
Ages: 14 and up
You Might Want to Know: There is underage drinking, smoking, drug use, sex.