Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world. This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once. (Goodreads)
Reviewed by Jessica Day George, NYT Bestselling Middle Grade and Young Adult Author
I was at BEA, leaving the “speed dating” event where tables of librarians and booksellers are given ARCs of upcoming books, and the authors make the rounds and have three minutes to tell each table about their book. Apparently I was in the same room with Jandy Nelson at this time, but I didn’t know her name then. Now that I’ve read I’ll Give You The Sun, I’m kind of afraid to run into her, because I might start hyperventilating and then cry all over her. So, anyway, as I was leaving the event I was eyeing some of the books that had been discarded, picking up a few things for myself. I saw this book, and said to my publicist, “That’s a fun cover.” The librarian who had just put it down, said, “You haven’t read this book?” I said, “No, I’ve never heard of it.” She thrust this into my hands! “You should take this! Take it!” I told her that she should keep it, and it she said that she already had a copy, and had already read it, and it was amazing. She was putting this copy back because she wanted to spread the love. She had such an intense expression I was both intrigued and taken aback.
A couple of months later it comes to my attention that I’m hearing more and more about this book. That people are bemoaning that they didn’t fight the crowds at BEA hard enough to get a copy, and I’m wondering if I should feel guilty because I have this coveted book and haven’t read it yet. So at last I crack it open to find . . . a dreamy artistic boy being bullied by two jocks. And I’ll admit it: I thought, Ugh, really? That's what this is about? Another book about bullying? (Yes, bullying it terrible. But I just wasn't in the mood, okay?) I forged ahead, though, and by page three I was hooked because of the way the dreamy artistic boy (Noah) described things. His twin sister Jude's hair like snakes trying to strangle him. Colors oozing from walls, people’s words changing color and taking shape depending on if they’re lying or telling the truth . . . his internal monologue is a series of wild, brilliant paintings.
And then there’s Jude. Jude sees ghosts, specifically family ghosts. Their grandmother follows her around, giving her advice on boys and fashion and life. A vengeful ghost destroys Jude’s art projects and you wonder if they’re both crazy, except the art is really being destroyed by outside forces, and others can sense it. This is the finest use of magical realism I’ve ever encountered in a YA novel.
The book is told in alternating points of view, jumping between Noah at thirteen and Jude at sixteen, until their two stories finally collide. I read this book in one day because I simply couldn’t stop. I was not only worried about the characters, but I wanted to know what had split their two narratives, and if they would ever come back together. I was so caught up in their lives that I later felt sad that I had read it so fast, because I wanted to spend more time with Noah and Jude and ghost grandma and everyone else.
It's just a gorgeous, gorgeous book and I want to see it showered with all the accolades and awards.
Market: YA contemporary
Language: Though not pervasive, there are some swear words including the F-word, and insults including homosexual slurs.
Violence: A boy is roughed up by bullies, the occasional punch or fistfight
Sensuality: A heterosexual sex scene (though it is not intended to be titillating and is not graphic), homosexual kissing.
Adult themes: homosexuality, adultery, bullying, depression