Monday, September 15, 2014

Book Review: I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Ill give you the Sun 
By Jandy Nelson.

This book will be released tomorrow.  I received an Advanced Reader's Copy from my library's book distributor, Baker & Taylor. Thanks B&T!


Hardcover, 384 pages
Expected publication: September 16th 2014
by Dial Books for Young Readers
Readers who like contemporary novels will like this book. 

The narration is similar to Eleanor and Park because it alternated between a guy and a girl.  The two narrators are twins living in California and trying to cope with an odd family dynamic.  Unlike Eleanor and Park this book not only alters narrators but it also alternates in time.   One section will be narrated by Noah while he and his sister are 13, and the next section will be narrated by 16 year old Jude.  Each twin has half of the story and through their combined stories one story is told.

Thirteen year old Noah loves his mom—she is his rock.  His mom is artsy and creative; she’s the only person in his live that loves him more than his sister.  Noah’s relationship with his dad is a stressed.  Noah feels like he will never be good enough or tough enough to impress him.  Noah’s relationship with Jude has also become stressed.  She has started to hang out with the popular boys—the surftards, and she doesn’t have as much time or patience for Noah.  Not everything is bad in Noah’s life though he has a new neighbor, Brian, who has become a very close friend of his.  Noah feels like Brian understands him like no one else ever.  They quick become friends and there is a certain level of sexual tension between the two.

Noah’s mom, Dianne Sweetwine, has a dream for Noah and Jude.  She wants them to attend CSA, The California School for the Arts.  She knows how talented the twins are, especially Noah.

Sixteen year old Jude has it tough.  Her mom has passed away, her father is distant, and her brother is no longer his artsy, creative self.  She has no one except the ghost of her dead grandmother. 

Jude attends CSA, but is not talented like classmates or like her brother used to be.  Every clay sculpture she makes breaks in the kiln; Jude knows her mother’s ghost is the one who is sabotaging her.  Jude’s classmates have begun calling her Calamity Jude or CJ for short.  Jude feels that if she makes a sculpture of her mom out of granite, her mother’s ghost will see Jude’s talent.  Jude believes this is the only way to appease her mother’s ghost.  Jude’s school counselor sets her up with Guillermo Garcia, a dark and gloomy man, to teach her how to sculpt.   Jude is instantly interested in Guillermo, and convinces him to be her mentor.

Guillermo’s assistant and friend, Oscar, is a dangerously beautiful 19 year old rebel.  Jude must do ever thing in the Sweetwine bible to avoid falling him—an onion in her pocket, not excepting his orange.  Jude knows that if she breaks her boy boycott all is lost.

When finding out that the narration alternates in person and in time, I was worried that it would be confusing to read.  (Allegiant confused me from time to time.)  I would like to say that Jandy Nelson did an excellent job with the narration.  Every time Jude was the narrator; they were 16, and every time Noah was the narrator they were 13.  This made is easy to understand when the story was happening.  Both Noah and Jude had a very different voice about them.  Both twins have an unusual way of looking at the world, artsy you might say, but their voices are still very distinct from each other.

·      I love all the secret connections of this book.  I feel like this may be a book that can’t be fully appreciated until it is read for a second time.
·      I like the evolution of Noah’s relationship with his dad feels very real.  At first in Noah’s point of view you cannot see any of the good in his father, but slowly you see that Dr. Sweetwine is hurting too.
·      I liked how Nelson refers to the twins as JudeandNoah sometimes as a single unit, but also refer to them as Jude and Noah.  It shows the reader that sometimes the twins feel like one unit and other times they don’t.
·      I love the eclecticness of Grandma Sweetwine.
·      I love Brian and Noah’s friendship.  The way Noah talks about Brian is adorable.
·      Jude is fantastic. I love all of her rules about boys, illnesses, and the world.  I think it’s cool how devoted she is to the Sweetwine bible.  I think the way she both misses and resents her mom is very authentic.
·      Oscar.  I super like Oscar.  I love that he isn’t the normal “ultra-hot” literary guy.  He is in pain, but also he has been redeemed through Guillermo’s compassion.  This brings up the fact that, I absolutely love Guillermo and Oscar’s relationship.  They are interdependent because they have both saved each other from living a life of solitude and darkness.

·        I get so frustrated with the characters and how they won’t just open up to each other.  I want to scream at all of them (Noah, Jude, their parents, Guillermo, Oscar, and Brian), “If you open up your heart, and are honest with yourself and those around you, your life will get better.”
·        Seeing how Noah changed from age 13 to 16 is very sad.  The reader can tell that there is something below the surface which has caused it.  Noah has traded his uniqueness to fit in, and it is heart breaking.

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