What it is: I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson is a young adult novel about twins and talented artists Jude and Noah. The two start off extremely close, but challenges in adolescence (including family, spirituality, romance, betrayal, and death) cause tension as they compete with each other. Meanwhile, they must discover their artistic selves and navigate their creative worlds.
What I liked about it: Jude and Noah take turns narrating the story, which creates a fuller picture of each of them and their individual processes of self-discovery rather than a one-sided view. This allows Nelson to add suspense by altering the chronology–one sibling can narrate from the past while the other shows the present. I also liked Nelson’s writing style, including how she uniquely describes the characters’ feelings/actions without overdoing the description and successfully weaves in the discussion of the twins’ art without reducing them to that.
What I didn’t like about it: I had some issues with suspension of disbelief–namely, some of the dialogue and relationships didn’t feel real or plausible, and there’s a bit of a magical realism component to the book that I’m not a huge fan of. At times the book did seem to drag on, and I didn’t always find myself caring about the characters despite having a full sense of their identities.
Memorable quote: “I black out a whole page, then another, then another. I press so hard, I break stick after stick using each one down to the very nub so it looks like the blackness is coming out of my finger, out of me, and onto the page. I fill up the whole rest of the pad. It takes hours. A series: boy inside a box of darkness.”
Overall rating: 3.5/5 stars.
Challenge satisfied: #16, listen to an audiobook.
Additional notes: Frankly I probably would’ve rated the book higher if I weren’t listening to it. I couldn’t stand the actors. Noah’s actor made him sound like he was in awe of every single thing that happened to him, and he made female voices incredibly high-pitched and breathy, making them sound flitty and unintelligent. Jude’s actor was better, but she felt a bit overdramatized and unrealistic. This was the first audiobook I’d ever listened to, and I’m not sure they’re for me.
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