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- author Jackie French

Saturday 11 April 2015

Review: I'll Give You The Sun

Jandy Nelson’s novel tells the story of twins Noah and Jude, written from alternating points of view – Noah tells the story of their 13th year (before the catastrophic event that changes their lives) and Jude tells it when they’re 16. Each character has four chapters and the novel is beautifully narrated within this framework.

Noah and Jude used to be so close, Noah was convinced they shared a soul. Now they hardly speak to one another.

Thirteen year-old Noah is a talented artist, thinks in art and colour, and his descriptions (in artistic form) of everything going on around him are captivating and sassy. But Noah is also a loner, considered a dork, gets picked on by bullies and is trying to understand his sexual orientation. He resents his dad and can’t seem to please him.

Jude is creative, beautiful, surfs and hangs out with the cool crowd. And she’s their dad’s favourite.

Both Noah and Jude vie for their mother’s attention. Their mum is a popular art history professor, fun and close to the twins, but her relationship with their dad is teetering close to divorce. Things at home aren’t great.

Their mother suggests they both apply to the local California School of the Arts (CSA). This would be a dream come true for Noah, but even though Jude sees it as a school for weirdos, she goes along with the application to please their mum.

Fast forward three years and sixteen year-old Jude is at the CSA and has morphed into an introverted, superstitious, androgynous-dressing hypochondriac, obsessed with the fear of catching rare diseases. She’s bitter and regretful. Most of her conversations are with her witty but dead grandmother.
Noah attends the local high school, has become a fit, athletic jock and doesn’t draw anymore. He hangs out with their dad when he’s not with his cool friends. He’s rebellious, angry and grieving.

Jude feels guilty and blames herself for the way things have turned out.  She meets an eccentric cute guy and a tormented sculptor and things start to change.

This is a novel that balances humour with betrayal, grief and family breakdown. No one is untouched. The prose and phrases and bursting to life characters are so unique and enticing, they pulled me in and wrapped me up. This novel is about family and forgiveness, about first love, about making mistakes and learning from them. Jandy Nelson has crafted a wonderful story that will resonate with teens feeling vulnerable and confused at what the teen years throw at them.

I'll Give You The Sun is available in audio CD. It also contains sexual references.

Title: I’ll Give You The Sun
Author: Jandy Nelson
Publisher: Dial Books (imprint of Penguin), $35.99 RRP
Publication Date: 2014
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780803734968
For ages: 12+
Type: Young Adult Fiction