I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

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A blazing, prismatic explosion of color . . . Nelson’s gifts in tackling huge subjects — death, grief, all-consuming love — with humor and gravitas will draw comparisons to the two reigning superstars of non-apocalyptic YA lit, John Green and Rainbow Rowell. But the intensity of her writing stands alone . . . Whether you’re at that age right now or you’ve forgotten what it feels like, I’ll Give You the Sun is that rare, immersive teen novel: To read it is a coming-of-age experience in itself.
— Entertainment Weekly
I gave up practically the whole world for you,” I tell him, walking through the front door of my own love story. “The sun, stars, ocean, trees, everything, I gave it all up for you.

It's been a really long time since I've read something so unsettling. 

Not like ghosts or feeling I'm not alone, but like more like this book has unsettled me with how much I fell into it. Once I was in, I was in and when I came out, the world around me was weirder. Bleaker. Harsher?

The first time I paused reading, I was halfway in and I literally could not keep my eyes open any longer (reading from 12 to 3 in the morning?).

The second time closing the pages, I stopped reading, but I was too far in so I did not REALLY stop.


Later in the day when studying at a local cafe, my best-froomie ("best friend" and "roommate) mentions baseball, clay, and donuts and all of the other words of the conversation go away and the only things I've translated are "The Axe" (Brian's baseball nick name), clay statues, and distracting the mind with obscure diseases to win a bet to see if one can eat a chocolate glaze donut without audibly moaning (Jude lost on this one).

That's how much this book had seeped its way into my outside-the-pages life.

Yes, there was one thing towards the end, in retrospect I feel I could have done better with less exposure to:

The many, almost too icky, reliances on true love and "split-aparts." 

But also, my aversion to such a concept may be because I'm in my own sort of boy-boycott right now, like Jude. The idea of true love and soul mates is a fashion trend I haven't hopped on board with just yet. I like to weigh down my pockets with onions, accept my own oranges, and eat buckets of lemons (from Jude's bible being 1 part superstition, 1 part DIY life hacks on how to keep boys away). 

However, I can still admit all the heart and googley eyes were necessary for the whole story itself.  Noah and Brian needed to be the way they were so when Brian was behind Noah, showing him the moon and stars, I felt the need to shout to the pages for Noah to lean back. For Oscar and his babble about split-aparts, that had to be staged exactly the way it was so when at the end he's laughing at how happy he is to have found Jude, I'm laughing giddily along with him. 

So Plato talked about these beings that used to exist that had four legs and four arms and two heads. They were totally self-contained and ecstatic and powerful. Too powerful, so Zeus cut them all in half and scattered all the halves around the world so that humans were doomed to forever look for their other half, the one who shared their very soul. Only the luckiest humans find their split-apart, you see.
— Oscar Ralph, Orange Distributor

As many writing styles there are, there are as many reading styles, if not more. If your reading style isn't into all-consuming love and breathless amounts of hyperbolic prose, then this book may be the one you want to pass over when brushing the shelves. But if not and you have a reading style more closer to mine, I highly recommend this read. 

Because I am all for the poetic prose. To me, Nelson took the English language and made something intimate and beautiful. 

I'm all for Nelson using miscommunication as a tool because it's what fueled a lot of the conflict. As much as miscommunications can be irksome, it was necessary for the story of NoahandJude. 

I am all for the romance, even if a tinge icky because my personal feelings aside, the romance was essential for the characters to break and remake themselves.

What I think I mean is... everything in I'll Give You the Sun was perfect. In the most perfect form that I can envision a well thought out book--all 384 pages planned down to the word-- one that has two DISTINCT characters shown through the different ways they think and feel and how human they are to make mistakes, it was so perfect as one mathematical formula that had all the factors necessary to get the end result. We can complain about all the things we didn't like, all the things we wish this book had and did not have, but adding and or subtracting anything else would have changed the story entirely and it would not be I'll Give You the Sun.

So for itself, for it's "truest life" (@Dianna Sweetwine, NoahandJude's mother) it was perfect.

I watch him throw his head back in supreme happiness, like he’s hearing that he gets to choose the colors for all the sunsets from now on.

More about Nelson's second book, I'll Give You the Sun

  • Winner of the 2015 Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature
  • A 2015 Stonewall Honor Book
  • Winner of Bank Street’s 2015 Josette Frank Book Award
  • Winner of the NCIBA and the NCBA and the James Cook Award
  • YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults
  • Rainbow List Top Ten 2015
  • A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
  • A Time Magazine Top Ten YA of the Year (#3)
  • An NPR Great Reads of the Year
  • Apple iBooks’ Best Teen Fiction of the Year
  • A Boston Globe Best YA Book of the Year
  • A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
  • A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
  • A Booklist Editor’s Choice Book of the Year
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Year
  • Five starred reviews from Publishers WeeklyBooklistSchool Library Journal, BCCB, LMC, and a perfect 10 from Voya
  • A Shelf Awareness Best Book of the Year
  • A New York Public Library Best Book of the Year
  • A Chicago Public Library Best Book of the Year
  • Winner of the 2014 Bookbrowse Award for Best Young Adult Novel
  • A kobo Best Book of the Year
  • A Bustle.com Best YA of the Year (#2)
  • #1 on Autumn 2014 Indie Next List
  • Optioned by Warner Brothers with Denise Di Novi and Allison Greenspan to produce
  • Debuted at #8 on New York Times Best Seller List
  • Tayshas Reading List: Top Ten of the Year
  • One of Entertainment Weekly’s “five novels to watch out for” in 2014
  • Already licensed in 32 countries
  • One of Apple iBooks Ten Best Novels of September
  • One of Amazon’s Big Fall Books and Best Books of September (the Spotlight Pick of the month)
  • One of the The Hollywood Reporter‘s Fall’s 10 Buzziest Books
  • Goodreads top six Best Books of the Month
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • Junior Library Guild Selection
Jandy Nelson is a rare, explosive talent. Her prose is vivid, breathtaking, and drenched in passion, and her stories remind me why words can change the world.

— Tahereh Mafi, New York Times bestselling author of the Shatter Me series

(If you would like this book directly through The Bookshelf to support independent bookstores and local business owners, you can contact The Bookshelf at their email contactus@bookshelfthomasville.com or you can call the store and place an order!) 

This is my first book review for the additions of The Bookshelf's blog. Other ideas to come are author interviews, upcoming events, and discussions on short stories for a "Commuter Series" for those of you who want to read more, but whose time is precious in the nonstop motion of everyday life. 


Also, if you have any topics you would like to see with the blog, please comment below! I would also love to know what everyone is reading. Point me in the direction of the next book that's going to unsettle me.