by Jandy Nelson
read from July 11 to July 17, 2016
actual rating: 3.5 stars
“It’s a sink-or-swim world.”
I sank. All. The. Way. Down.
I decided to read I’ll Give you the Sun when I found out it featured a LGBT character. Representation is very important to me. Every book should feature a diverse set of characters. Noah is gay, but his storyline doesn’t resolve around his sexuality. We get his side of the story when he was thirteen and fourteen years old and his twin Jude’s when she was sixteen.
I liked Noah’s chapters more than Jude’s. I liked her, but she’s strange. She talks to ghosts and I couldn’t figure out at first whether this was actually a contemporary novel. That might be because of the writing style as well. It’s very lyrical and metaphorical, which generally isn’t my cup of tea. Perhaps because the author chose to use the present tense instead of the past. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered this and it took some time getting used to.
I’ll Give you the Sun features a lot of secrets. I don’t like books about secrets, because they’re so dramatic and unrealistic. The last one hundred pages ruined the book for me because of that. I was planning on giving this a solid four stars, but all the build-up during the book seemed to be for nothing. The ending was too happy. I know I sound like such a pessimist when I say that, but the final part was too predictable. I saw their mom’s secret coming from miles away. I already figured it out during Jude’s first or second part.
Oscar is Jude’s love interest. I did not like that part of the story, at all. There was a bad case of instalove and Oscar is such a cliché in YA literature: a British guy who’s such a badass, but also loves art, photography and literature. He literally calls Jude ‘no one’ to another girl, yet Jude never lets her crush on him go. [spoiler warning] I was very angry when they got together in the end. He didn’t treat her well, but he does one good thing, so of course, he is forgiven. I was also very disappointed by the author’s decision to pair them. She’s sixteen, he’s nineteen. That might seem like a small age difference, but it’s not legal. If you allow this, Someone who’s twenty will start dating a fifteen-year-old, and so on and so on… [ end spoiler]
I wish we’d get Noah’s POV as a sixteen-year-old. I liked Jude, but as usual, we get so much more Straight scenes and I’m tired of it. As if they don’t get enough representation already. During the ‘Oscar and Jude’ scenes, I was actually skimming at some point.
However, I did like both Jude and Noah, even though I wish the latter got even more chapters. Both do nasty things to one another, yet I still cared about both of them. I understand why they did the things they did, but it wasn’t nice.
My favourite part of the story is probably Jude managing to turn that girl into something positive. Also, bless her for confronting that creepy guy she used to be with. A fourteen-year-old should not be expected to make better decisions than a seventeen-year-old! I cannot stress this enough and I’m so glad she got to say that. Unfortunately, the author’s decision towards the ending kind of erases that message.
conclusion: I liked the majority of the story and felt connected to the characters. They do, however, sound older than they actually are. I don’t buy Noah being thirteen in those chapters. Thirteen-year-olds aren’t so mature. Unfortunately, I did not like the final part. The Straight Romance became too prominent and everything ended too happily. Therefore, the story got unrealistic and predictable.