Pony Express book of the week: ‘I’ll Give You the Sun’ by Jandy Nelson

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson follows twins Jude and Noah Sweetwine as they cope with a major loss, while also trying to find themselves. The story takes place before and after the loss, in Noah’s point of view in the earlier years, age 14, and Jude’s in the later, age 16. The siblings are incredibly artistic and have strong beliefs regarding the afterlife. Jude expresses herself, her religion, and her belief in fate with proverbs and superstitions, while Noah takes a more artistic route and expresses how he feels to the reader with imaginary portraits. Reflecting the personalities of the narrators, the novel is filled with figurative language, mostly metaphors, and personification. The story takes place in a beach town of Northern California, where the twins spend a lot of time on the cliffside and in the nearby forest. When they are younger, the twins split up the world, trading things like the sun, the stars, and the trees for things they desired. These natural objects are often personified throughout the story.

While in Noah’s time, Jude is outgoing and extroverted, she is much more of a lone wolf during her point of view because she feels inferior to those around her, Noah is consistently seen as an outsider, but does learn a lot about himself, his art, and his sexuality. As time progresses, their strong relationship weakens, partially due to everything they are hiding in hopes to protect the other and all the potentially traumatic things that happened in their earlier years.

Rating: ★★★★★

This novel is a great coming of age story, as it covers topics that can relatable to almost everyone, including sexuality, losing loved ones, and the pressures of trying to figure out your future at a young age. The family dynamic is very powerful and the ongoing suspense as each member reveals what they have been hiding throughout the years, and the hidden connections between their pasts come out to make the story always intriguing for the audience. Also, the story takes place only around 4 hours away from Novato, which makes it even more relatable. It is overall a very well written (though it can get somewhat confusing when they talk to dead people) and emotional story.

Lauren Dempsky Jandy Nelson’s cover pictures the novel’s title ‘I’ll Give You the Sun” surrounded by rainbow rays. The rays themselves could represent Sun rays and the color choice could represent the LGBT+ aspects of the novel.

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