You'll Love 'I'll Give You the Sun' by Jandy Nelson
There’s just something about twins. Whether they’re the Olsen twins, the twin sisters in the Sweet Valley High series, or the creepy twins that show up in a Caroline B. Cooney novel, twins are intriguing. As someone who was born a regular old non-twin, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a twin brother or sister. Would we hang out all the time? Would we be able to tell when the other one was in pain? Would we solve any crime by dinner time?
I’ll never know, but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep reading books about twins. Jandy Nelson’s new novel, I’ll Give You the Sun, features twins Noah and Jude. They’ve always been super close, even though they couldn’t be more different. Noah is quiet and socially awkward, while Jude is bolder and a little bit reckless.
But the one thing they have in common is art; while Noah’s constantly drawing, Jude makes sand sculptures in secret. They understand each other and usually know what the other is thinking and feeling. . .until everything changes. I’ll Give You the Sun switches back and forth between Noah’s point-of-view, when the twins were 13, and Jude’s point-of-view, when the twins are 16. A lot can change in three years, and we get to see what tears the twins apart and changes their lives.
Writing a book from two entirely different perspectives occurring three years apart sounds pretty difficult, right? Well, Jandy Nelson is the queen of all of us, because she managed to do it and do it well. She wrote the whole book in a dark room while wearing earplugs, running a sound machine, and keeping the curtains drawn. That’s dedication. I’m listening to One Direction’s new song as I write this column, which is why I will never be even half as impressive as Jandy Nelson. I probably know more than she does about boy bands, but that’s not much comfort.
I’ll Give You the Sun touches on family relationships, grief, the power of art, sexuality and identity. Those are some pretty big topics, but if you read Jandy Nelson’s debut, The Sky is Everywhere, that’s not surprising. TSIE is one of my absolute favorite YA books because it features a heartbreaking depiction of grief and some majorly-swoony romance. I’ll Give You the Sun features that same honest look at heavy issues, while still having plenty of romance and humor.
Jandy Nelson also fills the book with phrases you want to underline and come back to again and again. Take this one, for example: “Mom has a massive sunflower for a soul so big there’s hardly any room for her organs. Jude and me have one soul between us that we have to share: a tree with its leaves on fire. And Dad has a plate of maggots for his.” Whether she’s describing Noah’s painterly visions or Jude’s superstitious beliefs, her writing will suck you in and make you fall in love with her characters.
If you love I’ll Give You the Sun, get excited because it’s going to be a movie (eventually)! Warner Brothers bought the rights, and we can only hope that the movie is just as awesome as the book.