Details & Summary
I had a hard time getting into this book. I started, then stopped. Started it again, then stopped again. Basically, I only came back to it because I had no other books to read. When I reflect on why I had so much trouble getting into this book, I can think of nothing else but the writing style. I’ll Give You the Sun is an extremely poetic / lyrical book about art and family and relationships, and it’s filled with metaphors. So so many metaphors and “purple prose”. Dare I say it came across as a tad pretentious and unrealistic. After all, how many fourteen and sixteen year olds think and speak like Noah and Jude?
Jude barfs bright blue fluorescent barf all over the table, but I’m the only one who notices.
We’re sprinting at the speed of light when the ground gives way and we rise into the air as if racing up stairs.
All the hornet’s buzzed out of her. And there’s no spider to her at all
The writing style is what kept me from bonding with the characters. I kept being pulled out of the story because I was paying too much attention to the descriptions, the metaphors, and the way Nelson used language in general to create her story. But I didn’t give up on it because I’d heard so many good things about it and I’m too stubborn to DNF. So I told myself to stop overthinking it and just go with it.
I’m so happy I did or I would’ve never discovered the brilliant parts of this book. For one, I came to adore Noah. He’s a talented artist who falls in love with his neighbour Brian, with whom he can truly be himself–passionate, dorky, and maybe even a bit of a freak. Brian is in love with him too, but it wouldn’t be a YA novel if a series of unfortunate circumstances forces didn’t force them apart. I hate how their break-up could’ve been avoided if they’d just talked to each other and set things straight, but alas. Having said that, I adore them together.
“I love you,” I say to him, only it comes out, “Hey.”
“So damn much,” he says back, only it comes out, “Dude.”
And even as I’m kissing him and kissing him and kissing him, I wish I were kissing him, wanting more, more, more, more, like I can’t get enough, never will be able to get enough.
And then there’s Jude. I didn’t like her much at first, but that’s mostly because I first read about her from Noah’s POV and they were growing apart by then. Jude was also in the process of becoming a young woman, which came with more than a few struggles. But through her own POV, I came to like Jude too. She’s more of a risk-taker than Noah is, less afraid of being herself and standing up for what she believes in. She also falls in love but with an older boy named Oscar. I have to say I’m not a huge fan of their relationship. Aside from the fact that Oscar is a stereotypical dream boy (older, British, tattoos, motorcycle, troubled past, dates many women but capable of changing for “true love”, etc.), I didn’t like the you’re-my-soulmate-and-one-true-love factor. It’s just not realistic to me.
“Meeting your soul mate is like walking into a house you’ve been in before – you will recognize the furniture, the pictures on the wall, the books on the shelves, the contents of drawers: You could find your way around in the dark if you had to”
I’m happy to say that the parents in this YA novel are present and that they’re a part of their children’s lives. A huge part in fact, which is rare these days. It was nice to see how Mum and Dad had a separate relationship with each of their kids and how these relationships changed and developed over time.
Noah’s relationship with his Mum is different from Jude’s, but it also changes from the beginning to the end. The same thing goes for Noah and his Dad and for Jude and each of the parents. All the relationships have their own, separate arc which are all sufficiently developed throughout the book. This makes the relationships more real and realistic because we all know the bond between a parent and a teen can change dramatically between the ages of 13 to 16.
While Nelson’s writing style is too lyrical for my taste, I fell in love with Noah and Jude all the same. I related with them and felt for them while they dealt with strong emotions such as first love and grief, which ultimately lead me to appreciate and enjoy the story and the messages hidden within.
I’d probably give this a 3,5 / 5 though.