Sunday, 31 May 2015

I'll Give You The Sun - Jandy Nelson

If you have watched my My Favourite Things video then you will know already that I was very excited about this book. (If you haven't watched it but fancy doing so head on over here. It's fine. I'll wait for you to return.)

This was such a wonderful experience. That's the only word I can really think of to sum up reading this because it was just so freaking beautiful to read. The American cover of this book is super pretty and rainbowey so I was ever so slightly disappointed to have to buy the UK cover instead because I do like me some pretty rainbowey colours. However, now I am so glad I did. I don't know what the format of the American edition is like, but the UK edition is so very pretty!

Let me show you what I mean:

See! GORGEOUS. The actual words of this were lovely (and I'll talk about them some more in a bit) but I just loved the physical experience of reading this. Art is a big focus of this book and I love the way that that spills across onto the page. Everyone loves a pretty book but I liked that this wasn't just pretty for the sake of it, it actually really ties in with the story. Noah and Jude view the world in a very metaphoric and artistic way and the page layout really reflected this and added to my immersion. It also had some cute little postcards that came free with it which work pretty well as bookmarks.

Now onto the words and the story and the actual content of the book. Noah and Jude are twins and the book focuses a lot on their relationships: to each other, to other characters, and to art. It alternates perspectives between 13 year old Noah and then 16 year old Jude. I enjoyed this narration style as I liked being able to view the world through both of their eyes. They are quite competitive with each other which causes issues but they also have an incredible amount of love for each other so it was interesting watching them navigate this and see the way that they view each other. I also liked how switching perspective broke up the narration a bit. Noah's narrative style is gorgeous and is overflowing with metaphors and imagination. Jude's narrative has elements of this but is slightly less full on and I liked this contrast. 

Plot wise, I probably enjoyed Noah's point of view the most and my favourite plot element was the relationship between him and Brian. I did also enjoy Jude's narrative, I just wasn't a big fan of her relationship with Oscar! However, it was the relationship between the twins I found most engaging and the different ways they were struggling to deal with their loss and relate to each other and all of the messiness that came with that. 

I loved this book. That being said, I can actually really understand why people wouldn't enjoy it. There are a lot of metaphors. Like, a LOT of them. Noah's narration is especially metaphorical as he is constantly painting the world within his head to reflect the way that he sees reality. This wasn't a problem for me as I just got swept up in the words and went with it, but I can see how it would irritate some readers. Also, the character of Oscar is a little clich├ęd. He's a British guy with a mysterious and dangerous past who rides a motorcycle and is a bad boy with a heart of gold etc etc. On a slightly more serious note as well, I can't remember precisely how old he's supposed to be but I think he's 19? I don't know but he just seems a lot older than Jude so now I think about it, I'm not sure how comfortable I am with their age difference. There's a massive difference in emotional maturity between someone who is 16 and someone who is 19. 

I liked this book because it tapped into the very visual part of my brain and gave me lots of wonderful imagery. As a result, I loved immersing myself in the experience and seeing where the book would take me. With hindsight, I can see that there are elements of the book that I think aren't that strong (namely the Oscar/Jude plot) but in the moment I didn't really care because I was just so enjoying going with it.

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