Holiday Reading: I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

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So last month I promised myself I’d start reading again. Aaaaaaaand as expected, that went really well…….. Because I don’t have a huge amount of skills in life, but failing to do things I promised myself I was going to do is most definitely one of them!

In fairness, I did start reading again, in fact since that post I have read a whole book and a half. Save your applause though guys, because I’m gonna hands down admit, the only reason that happened is because I went on holiday. Yes, I feel pretty pissed at myself that this is what it takes to make me find time to pick up a book these days, but in fairness to myself, in a recent team building exercise at work we were placed in groups of approximately 10 people and tasked with finding things that all of us had in common, and we all agreed that we loved reading yet only read on holiday so I know at least I’m not the only one. I blame Instagram.

Anyway, since I failed so spectacularly (just like I failed at cooking something out of our cookbooks once a month, learning how to drive 4 years ago and posting with a more regular schedule right now) I decided I should hold up at least half of the bargain and review the one whole book I did read…..

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I’ll Give You The Sun follows the tale of two twins Noah and Jude, separated by 3 years and the tragic death of their Mother. Noah, we meet at 13, and we learn that he is a bit of a classic stereotype – a misunderstood, artistic dreamer who is struggling with his sexuality and hasn’t found his place in the world yet. Then we meet Jude, three years later – once the wild child, now the recluse, on a path she didn’t mean to end up on and angry at the world. Their stories alternate, but through the scattered timeline we realise that the two, once close, have been torn apart, and are both battling to make sense of who they are and what has become of them in such a short time. As the two tales intertwine, we start to understand the events that led to their Mother’s death, the impact it had on their lives, but equally how the two of them had allowed the event, and others coinciding, to cause them to lose each other and who they thought they were.

If that is all sounding a little overly sweet, melodramatic and teen angsty, it’s because it is. Sorry. I know this book has many fans and they probably all hate me right now, but that is my honest opinion. Thing is though, this book is described as ‘Young Adult’, so as a completely miserable, jaded old cow, I don’t think I am it’s target market, and I don’t think it would be fair for me to review this simply as myself and I’m going to try and do my best to be impartial… Here goes….

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The truth is, I found Noah and Jude super annoying. Even at the tender age of 13, Noah seemed like the kind of person that made a concerted effort not to fit in rather than simply being someone who ‘just didn’t fit in’, because being considered ‘normal’ would be, like, the WORST THING EVEEEERRRR. And Jude? Let’s just say this won’t be the first time in pop culture that you have come across the once popular girl who has been hurt so now refuses to allow anyone in lest she gets hurt again….! I even found the smaller sub-characters annoying – the celestial Mother around whom the story revolves, made me groan somewhat everytime she came out with something mother-earthy, and Guillermo, the Mediterranean, tortured genius of a sculptor could not have been more of a cringey cliche if he tried. That said, seriously, don’t even get me started on Oscar, the English bad-boy-but-sensitive-really love interest of Jude… (I don’t even need to say it, right? That sentence says it all! Spoiler: He was just waiting for the right girl the whole time….awwww) Honestly, I felt a little sorry for their Dad, who seemed to be the only non-extreme personality and thus punished by being sidelined and left out until much later in the book.


As much as I have, within just a few lines, pretty much completely slated the whole thing (I’m not certain now whether it is me or the book that is the most melodramatic… probs me) I actually didn’t hate it. I know, I have a funny way of showing it! Thing is, pre-pubescent teenagers are, on the large part, pretty annoying to grumpy old sows like me, so I’ve got to hand it to Nelson – she basically nailed it. The intensity, the lust, the life and death sense of every situation – that is being a teenager. And I’m not sure I’ve ever met a youngster that didn’t irritate me beyond belief – and I’m including myself in this, I hate teenage me – so the fact that they weren’t completely likeable at all times made it all the more real. Got to love a flawed protagonist, right? I also have to point out that the writing style was extremely accomplished. I mean, if you’re a cynic like me you may grow tired of the constant, flowery metaphors, but no-one could deny that Nelson is a beautiful writer, and Noah and Jude both had very clear, distinct voices of their own.

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So in summary, star-crossed lover style stories aren’t really my thing, and I found the passionate love stories a little much at times, but while I eye-rolled more times than I can count while reading I genuinely enjoyed the story, and found myself actually caring about those irritating little tinkers by the end. I didn’t want to like it, but I did.

And there you have it – the official moody bitch review. Anyone with half a heart will probably love it though…!




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