Book Review – I’ll Give You the Sun – Jandy Nelson
- Book: I’ll Give You the Sun
- Author: Jandy Nelson
- Genre: Fiction
- Year of Release: 2014
- Read 375-page hardcover edition in March 2016.
In her second novel, Jandy Nelson tells the story of twins Noah and Jude. Twins who were once very close, but are now estranged as 15 year olds. The novel tells us, from alternating time periods and both perspectives, how this came to pass. It also tells us the story of the complex relationships they had with both of their parents, and the untimely death of their mother. As the two characters learn more about themselves, they begin to see that getting past their difficulties and emotional trials may require the help of their twin sibling.
I started out reading this novel with high hopes, given the high ratings on Goodreads and Amazon for this novel. And although I may not be the target audience for this novel, being someone in their mid-thirties, I was still excited to read this. However, I must say I didn’t have the same positive experience as so many other readers. Of course this is just my opinion and experience!
The overall premise here was fascinating, in terms of looking at how the relationship between twins changes over time in the teenage years, and how challenging issues of growing up, being LGBT, and losing a parent can impact teens. These concepts were great starting points for the novel. Furthermore, some of the scenes that were written truly were touching or funny, leading to laughing out loud or even tearing up a couple of times.
That being said, the overall execution by the author seemed confusing. The overall lessons learned for the novel, or what the author wanted us to take away from the novel, seemed somewhat mixed. For example, one of the lessons that seemed to be pushed by the author was that following your dreams must be done, no matter what the consequences, such as focusing on your new dreams at the expense of spending time with your children. I may be over-simplifying the story, and I don’t want to give too much away for those who plan to read the novel, but some of these types of lessons seemed surprising to push forward, and sometimes they contradicted other lessons or themes in a way that was unclear and did not add up.
Although it is definitely believable that the twins in the novel could have a falling out, it was in some ways unbelievable the extent they both went to take certain actions that alienated them against each other. Further, the ending of the novel, where the truth came out on both sides, the fact their didn’t seem to be hurt feelings or further alienation, even for a little while before reconciliation, didn’t seem to be the way most teenagers would react in emotionally heated situations.
In addition, the fact that all loose ends and all sub-plots of the novel were tied up so smoothly and neatly, seemed a little unbelievable and too convenient. Even in books marketed to the young adult audience, there are often loose ends, and life is not looking perfect, and that is ok, because it is reality.
Finally, a small point here. The idea of alternating the narrator between Noah and Jude, and alternating back and forth in time from when they were 13-16, was a fabulous idea. However, it was unfortunate the author did not choose to do more time and narrator changes throughout the book. Each section was sometimes 100+ pages long, meaning there were only a few changes from narrator to narrator and time period to time period.
Although it definitely has to be said that many people highly enjoyed this novel, to me it seemed full of contradictions and unbelievable plot points.
Overall: 2 stars out of 5 stars