The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars

It’s the busy season for professionals who work at universities and colleges. Right before all the students come back after their winter recess, there’s this little tradition called RA Training where Resident Assistants receive training for a small amount of time on how to work with college aged students. This week is a fun and exciting time, but it’s also exhausting. When I came home from training this week, all I’ve wanted to do was read something mindless and zone out. In attempts to get back into the swing of things, I thought I’d write about a book I read a month ago, but has still stuck with me.

I read I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson sometime in December. It had been on my TBR (“To Be Read [List]”) for a couple of months, and interlibrary loan had finally placed it in my hands. Before I add a book to my TBR, I usually read the description and a couple of reviews. It definitely helps if the cover is pretty. This book had good reviews, an interesting story, and a very pretty cover. It also has another of my personal favorites, a story told through multiple points of view.

I’ll Give You the Sun tells the story of twins, Jude and Noah. The description states that Jude and Noah are close until an unknown event happens that severs their relationship. The neat thing about Nelson’s writing style is that she not only broke up the story between Noah and Jude, but the narrative is told in the past and present. Noah, 13, is the keeper of the past. We follow his story as he explores his sexuality, his relationship with art, and going through puberty. Jude, 16, allows us to follow her through the present. Presented as a cursed sculptor with a dead mother, Jude actively works to write an unknown wrong and repair her relationship with her brother. Nelson adds a layer of mystery and interesting surround the story, keeping the reader guessing about its conclusion. I was impressed by the depth of the story and how the stories merged at the end.

I’ll Give You the Sun is exactly the kind of book that makes you rethink what it really means to be YA fiction. I think that this book, albeit about teens, could easily be categorized as fiction. Nelson is a smart writer. She writes both Noah and Jude in two different and distinct voices, age and personality appropriate. Some of the reviews that I’ve read about the book, complain about being unable to follow Noah’s narrative. I think that there’s a sophistication in Noah’s chapters (my favorite of the two narrators) that could be a little difficult for a younger reader to follow. While I was reading I often forgot that this was a targeted YA book, instead of a book that just happened to be about youths. I think that this is one of the more striking reasons that I would recommend this book for someone who doesn’t normally read YA or who is looking begin to get into that world. The vocabulary is simple, but the writing style is beautiful and complex.

The “moral” that I found in the story focuses on understanding that no one person truly has the complete story. Noah and Jude were not able to understand what tore them apart without knowing the other’s story. They both needed to understand the stories of others to understand theirs. I highly recommend this book, as it has made its way onto my all-time favorites list.


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