I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson Review: Two Artistic, Abstract Minds

May 18, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 3 stars, Books, Reviews

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson Review: Two Artistic, Abstract MindsI'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Published by Walker Books Australia on April 2, 2015
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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From the author of The Sky Is Every­where, a radiant novel that will leave you laughing and crying - all at once. For fans of John Green, Gayle Forman and Lauren Oliver. Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close - until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don't realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.

I’ll Give You the Sun is a vibrant story of art and emotion, described in a beautifully artistic way. There are some things that can’t be described in simple terms, like the estranged twins and the hurt and pain of losing your mother and your best friend. But this story does it’s damnedest to get those complex emotions across, through Jude and Noah’s very different point of views.

I’m not gonna lie, I’ll Give You the Sun took a while to get into. Noah’s point of view is from an artistic mind, something I can’t really relate to, and the way he puts things edges on too much of flowery prose. He describes the simplest of moments in an incredibly abstract way, illustrating the deep complexity of his emotions. He’s a man of few words, but he processes things incredibly vibrantly in his mind.

My heart leaves, hitchhikes right out of my body, heads north, catches a ferry across the Bering Sea and plants itself in Siberia with polar bears and ibex and long-horned goats until it turns into a teeny tiny glacier. 

Although Noah wasn’t someone I could immediately connect with, Jude was more readily available to me. She’s obviously hurting, by navigating through the confusion of puberty and teenage life without her twin as her confidante and best friend. Jude has lost a lot of people dear to her, and we see her point of view three years into the future, as opposed to the rebellious sister that Noah tells us about. Although the timing of Noah and Jude’s story were separate, they did end up coming together in the end, helping us to understand the pain, love and loss that each of them experiences.

There are two separate love stories here, Jude, with the wild and handsome model who has captured her heart, and Noah with his feelings for his friend Brian. Noah knows that he’s gay, which is something that he’s been struggling to come out with, and part of the reason why he pushes Jude away. Their pining, pain and emotion for their beloved, and resentment towards their twin and their parents, were communicated clearly and had me wondering whether they were ever going to figure things out. But I loved how the romance wasn’t perfect, how there wasn’t insta-love and both sides took a while to figure things out. It’s this complexity in their emotions that made it feel more realistic, for things rarely ever go smoothly the first time.

“Or maybe a person is just made up of a lot of people,” I say. “Maybe we’re accumulating these new selves all the time.” Hauling them in as we make choices, good and bad, as we screw up, step up, lose our minds, find out minds, fall apart, fall in love, as we grieve, grow, retreat from the world, dive into the world, as we make things, as we break things. 

Family plays a big part here, not only with the twins but also parents who are undergoing a separation. Both Noah and Jude cope in different ways, Noah who blames himself and Jude who simmers with guilt and lashes out to everyone. There’s some wonderful deeper concepts on life here, I was pleasantly surprised with how it was applied. For underneath all of the fancy descriptions, of the purple prose and the artistic way of wording things, there is a deeper message; of accepting others for how they are and for how differently they will turn out. This is what really resonated with me, how the people that you love will disappoint you but in the end you will still love them because they are simply figuring out their own story.

Beautiful artwork is spread throughout the chapters, which I really enjoyed, making the entire novel into a work of art in it’s own right.

I don’t know how this can be but it can: A painting is both exactly the same and entirely different every single time you look at it. That’s the way it is between Jude and me now. 


I’ll Give You Sun is a beautiful, artistic rendition of teenage love, life, and loss told from the point of view of two estranged twins. It’s a story about finding oneself, about pursuing your passion, about staying true to oneself, about acceptance of others’ imperfections and about art. Although it was deep, meaningful and complex, I had trouble connecting with some of the flowery prose in this novel. It isn’t for everyone, but for those who can break through the artistic words and discover the deeper meaning in the story, it’s a beauty.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Thank you to Walker Books Australia for sending me this review copy in exchange for an honest review. 

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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46 responses to “I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson Review: Two Artistic, Abstract Minds

  1. Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

    I'm currently reading this one, and I'm already in love. I think the writing is absolutely beautiful and I really love Noah's voice. I find it harder to connect to Jude for some reason. Maybe that'll change later on. Beautiful review, Jeann! 🙂

    • Oooh at least you\’re able to connect with Noah, I really struggled with his abstract prose lol. Thanks Marianne!

  2. I agree about the flowery prose, I usually don't like it in books because I get frustrated with all the blank spaces and the lack of the words on the page.. I still like it once in a while, this book has been on my TBR for the longest – think I might just bump it up a little. Wonderful review as always <3
    My recent post Mixed feelings.. A Court of Thorns and Roses Review♥

  3. danielleisbusyreading

    What a great review, Jeann! I had trouble articulating my feelings about this book, so I ended up just doing a mini review, but you definitely do it's themes justice.
    I was a fan of the prose and the two different romances, tho the mother's story line definitely bothered me.

  4. I have yet to read this, but I'm mostly looking forward to the art! And I heard there were some nice artsy pages in there as well! I'm kind of confused about the plot (Noah thinks he's gay but gets with Jude anyways? I'm not sure haha I'm just skimming so I can go in blind!) But I'm glad you liked this Jeann!
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  5. Jae

    First off, I 'm really loving this paperback cover more so than the US hardcover actualy haa. I'm not sure how I feel about the flowery prose but I love stories that have a family emphasis and this one sounds very heart-warming. Lovely review, Jeann! 🙂
    My recent post Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

  6. Faye M.

    I would love to see and read the complexities apparent in this book, because most of the time they let us look deep inside ourselves, too, and even force us to ask questions we are afraid to know the answer. But the flowery prose makes me hesitant, because oftentimes, it results to a muddled story, and of course, aheadache deep within my skull. I'll still try to check it out when I have more free time!
    My recent post The Ultimate YA Survey: Choose Your Own Love Interest

  7. I struggled with Noah’s chapters at first too! In the end, I loved them, but the first 50 pages or so were mind boggling. What I found interesting was that I connected with Noah more than Jude – I just couldn’t get into her head. Most likely because Noah reacts to situations inwardly, and Jude acts out. I’m far more like Noah, haha.

    I’m glad you ended up enjoying this one!
    My recent post Review: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia || I’m starting to question reality

  8. I absolutely adored this book. Loved it passionately actually. I was a big fan of The Sky is Everywhere, it was so vividly beautiful, but she's really stepped if up for this one in terms of not only character development, but the lyrical style of writing, and I love purple prose. It made my heart ache, it was so beautiful. Completely agree though, I think the style of writing especially won't be for everyone. But wasn't the artwork a lovely touch. Most of it just felt angry and a real representation of Noah's inner turmoil.

    Wonderful review Jeann, sorry you couldn't have enjoyed this one a little more though <3
    My recent post Giveaway! Ice Kissed by Amanda Hocking

    • So glad to hear you loved the style of writing and the book itself Kelly! Noah's inner thoughts were so dark and complex weren't they? Still liked it 🙂

  9. Flowery prose? *steps away from the book* I am not artistic at all, so I'll probably have trouble getting into Noah's chapters as well. And flowery prose is so not my thing. But it's nice that we get to see how much Jude has changed over time, because of the time jump in their POVs. And I like the sound of the romance. I like it when both parties take some time to figure things out. 🙂

    Fabulous review, Jeann!
    My recent post Review: Lion Heart by A.C. Gaughen

    • Yeah, I had real trouble getting into it, although I could appreciate it's beauty. Thank you Aimee~!

    • I haven't read The Sky is Everywhere yet but have heard good things! Yeah, I did get into it a bit more later on.

  10. Jeann, I absolutely cannot WAIT to dive into this book. I've heard so many wonderful things about it. I'm not sure how well I'd handle the flowery prose, but I do love it at times so it shouldn't be too bad. 😀 Wonderful review xx

  11. Grace @ RebelMommyBB

    This has been on my TBR list for a while and just waiting for the library to get it in. I hate to hear it was a little tough to get into because I soo struggle with that. Glad to hear you ended up enjoying it though.
    My recent post Review ~ Station Eleven

  12. Zoe

    YES. I completely agree with this review 100% Jeann – it's like you took the words out of my mouth!

    I loved the sibling dynamics and how Nelson focused so much on them. There are so many stories in YA about perfect, “I’ll-love-you-forever” types of siblings, which is all good and well, but not wholly realistic. This really focused on how sibling relationships aren’t always perfect.

    And I completely agree about the beginning. I’m totally left brained (which pretty much controls the whole logic side of your brain), so all of Noah’s metaphors & figurative language didn’t really click with me at first, but, like you, I ended up adoring it.

    Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ♥
    My recent post Vanishing Girls

    • Yeah, the sibling relationships here definitely felt authentic in the least. Noah's pov was really hard to get into but I'm glad it grew on us! No problems Zoe <3

  13. I absolutely adoredt his one…but totally agree the beginning was a bit WOAH. I almost wailed when I started it because I thought I was going to hate it…buuut TOTALLY SUCKED IN AND IN LOVE. I related a lot to both the twins, but basically I just wanted to lock them in a room with some hot chocolate and marshmallows and say TALK TO EACH OTHER YOU LITTLE IDIOTS. XD