I'll Give You the Sun - Jandy Nelson

Jude and Noah are twins, incredibly close in almost every possible way, at least until Brian moves into town and they begin working toward entry into a prestigious art school. Noah falls for Brian and Jude becomes more and more charismatic and adventurous. In alternating chapters, when Jude is narrating, it's three years later and she is barely speaking to Noah. The alternating narrative allows each twin to tell their own half of the story, but because of this, neither twin knows the whole story, leaving each more than a little bit in the dark.

The prose are whimsical and poetic, filled with explosive imagery that will keep readers at the edge of their seats. Nelson writes in a way that I rarely experience, but which takes my breath away. Character descriptions are rarely simple and often so descriptive that I can't help but feel a bit of magic creeping into the images coming together in my mind. Take this description of Guillermo, for example, from Jude's perspective:
My train of thought's interrupted because bounding into the large space as if his skin can't contain the uproar of blood within is Drunken Igor, but utterly transformed.... Someone's plugged him in. To a nuclear reactor. Ladies and gentlemen: The Rock Star of the Sculpture World.
There is such a frantic feeling behind the young Noah's words and feelings as well, that it's hard not to get carried away in his energy and excitement. I know I'm quoting a lot, but the passages in this book are so beautiful I can't help myself.
[A]ll through the movie about the alien invasion, our legs microscopically drift: his, right, right, right, mine, left, left, left, until halfway through, they find each other and press so hard against each other for one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight delirious seconds, that I have to get up and run to the bathroom because I'm exploding. [W]hen I get back to my seat, it all starts again, but this time our legs find each other immediately and he grabs my hand beneath the armrest and squeezes it and we electrocute and die.
The treatment of each relationship in the book is sensitive, nuanced, and intricate. Nelson explores family relationships and friendships, love and disappointment, attraction and fear. The intense and tragically raw relationships are very real feeling, and the elegant descriptions only make them more potent for the reader:
As I reach the front step, I hear, "How'd I come out?" Curiosity in [Brian's] voice, not a smidge of asshat. 
I turn around. He's moved out of the light. I can only see a shadowy shape in the road. This is how he came out: He floated into the air high above the sleeping forest, his green hat spinning a few feet above his head. In his hand was the open suitcase and out of it spilled a whole sky of stars.
The novel is an emotional rollercoaster, but one that manages to navigate extremely well and never falls off the track. Nelson's passion for writing shines through in this character- and relationship-driven masterpiece in ways I can barely manage to express. It is at once sad and happy, heartbreaking and uplifting, gritty and magical. This is a book you will want to absorb as much as possible.

Highly Recommended

(Note: This review is from an Advance Reading Copy - Out September 16, 2014)

Other Reviews:
"I love this book. Jandy Nelson is my new writing hero. Read this book. She'll be your favorite author as well." Holly Goldberg Sloan, New York Times bestselling author of Counting by 7s. 
"An extraordinary book! I've never read anything like it. Lyrical-unique-passionate-magical-tragic-hopeful--Nelson's characters will fly off the page and into your heart." Nancy Garden, author of Annie on my Mind.


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