I’ll Give You The Sun (Jandy Nelson)

This is a bit different than my other reviews because I actually listened to this book on CD instead of reading a hard copy. I’m not usually a fan of listening to books on CD; most people I know listen to them in their car, but I get distracted too easily, miss sentences, and feel like I lose too much of the story. I’ve been having trouble getting my hands on a physical copy of this book so I decided to give the CD form a go and…holy cow. This kept my rapt attention; there were even times I sat in my car for upwards of an hour after I got home because I could not. stop. listening. I would have to read it again to know for sure, but I think this is one of my favorite books I’ve read ever.

Title – I’ll Give You The Sun

Author – Jandy Nelson

Page count – 371 (13 hours, 3 min)

Goodreads rating – 5/5 (it was amazing!)

**NO spoilers – this beautiful story needs to unfold all on its own**

This book is about a twin brother and sister, Noah and Jude. The narration switches between them, but each is telling the story starting at different points in their life – Noah at age 13, Jude at 16. Just like how Noah believes each twin only has half their shared soul, each of them only has half the story to tell. They start off their lives very close, but then something happens that forces them apart and changes their lives in different but equally painful ways.

This book is perhaps the perfect example of why I love YA (young adult) books so much and why it’s a tragic shame (too dramatic?) that many older adults dismiss them so readily. This is the book I needed to read when I was a teenager. It’s about love and loss and a “happy” ending without everything being tied up neatly in a bow because that’s not how life really happens. It’s about how the cruel and painful things we do to people hurt so much more when we do them to the people we love the most. It’s about discovering who you are and who you’re meant to be with bits of levity thrown in to lighten the burden.

I had a couple favorite lines from this story – first, a reference to the loss that forces Noah and Jude apart; the second, Jude’s perspective on having always relied on other people’s approval to “turn on the light” inside her, instead of believing in herself:

“No one tells you how gone gone really is or how long it lasts.”

“Be in charge of your own damn light switch.”

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