Synopsis (from Goodreads):
At first, Jude and her twin brother are NoahandJude; inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them.
Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor.
The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world.
This radiant, award-winning novel from the acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.
The ultrasounds showed Noah and Jude shoulder to shoulder in the womb, thus how they became NoahandJude. Growing up Jude was always looking out for Noah, with her voice and looks, she got one of the older bullies (Zephyr) to look out for her brother. Noah, at age thirteen, was still growing into the person he wanted to be. Where his twin was wearing tight clothes, and had mile-long blonde hair, she and their dad bonded over surfing and adventure type activities. Where with Noah, their dad was clueless, trying to show Noah how to fight, how to “be a man”, and for the better part of Noah’s life made him hate him. With Jude teaming up with Dad, it was no surprise when Mom picked her artist prodigy son over her party-loving daughter. Mom pushed the twins both to enroll in the California School of the Arts (CSA), over public school, forcing them to better their art. Noah, a sure in, with Jude, who in her own way was quite artistic, was also a valid candidate for the school. Determine to get in Noah spends all his time drawing, until the eyes of the boy next door caught his attention. Brian went to boarding school but lived in the house next-door during his breaks. Nickname the Ax because of his superb baseball skills, Brian was planning on going to university based off the scholarship. But that does not keep Noah form fantasizing of what he and Brian could become, while avoiding the own mess in his house. Jude starts rebelling, as most thirteen-year-old girls do, going out late with boys that are much too old for her. Strain in their parents’ relationship, Noah has to but his own heart on hold to keep his family from falling out around him, hoping against fate that he was not too late.
Jude, currently sixteen, was also known as girl without a mother. Getting into CSA, when Noah did not, Jude feels her mother’s wrath from beyond the grave as everything Jude makes, her mother breaks. As part of the small population that can see ghosts, Jude spends most of her time with her grandmother, following her bible, trying to keep what was left of her life on track. Cutting off all her hair, and swearing off boys, Jude becomes the weird one, where Noah becomes normal. Going to public school, joining sports, he was the one embarrassed when Jude sews nuts and other protective charms into his pockets. No longer are they twins, let alone siblings, as Jude feels lost when it come to her brother: “And now, because of all that’s happened. we avoid each other - worse, repel each other” (55). Trying to fix what she did to Noah, the reason why her mother breaks all her art, Jude makes her way to find someone to mentor her in stone carving, the one thing her mother could not easily break. Guillermo Garcia was the only one that could teach her, but swore off being a mentor three years ago. Determine to make this statue of her mother, Jude begs Guillermo to each her the art form, and reluctantly he agreed. Forming relationships that Jude has not felt in a long time, she quickly became friends with Guillermo, and something more with his somewhat son, Oscar, whom makes Jude feel something she has not felt in a long time. Forcing her way through her feelings, Jude expresses herself through her art, finding the answers along the way about her family, Oscar, Guillermo, and finally Noah, as she pushes her way back into his life, and back to being his family.
Jandy Nelson wrote this soul crushing, but then lifting, novel that you will not be able to get it out of your head for days. Noah and Jude are such complex characters, as they reach out to each other and pullback, the quote on the cover of some copies really capture the twin’s relationship: “We were all heading for each other on a collision course, no matter what. Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story”. Taking place between three to two years apart, Nelson does a fantastic job piecing the story together so that some parts overlap. The point of view is taken from both Noah (at age thirteen to fourteen) and Jude (at age sixteen), showing the actions and reactions to events that occur. The story line is beautiful, but for no reason. The family drama can be found in other books, so with exquisite and caring boys who fall head over heels for our character, but somehow Nelson does a twist, bringing out the beauty in the flaws of the character. Knowing the flaws of each other, Noah and Jude still love each other, and ant to keep the other safe, even during their non-talking periods. The title I’ll Give You the Sun, is beautifully chosen as it represents a game Noah and Jude played when they were little of dividing the world up, trading parts of the world from the sun, ocean, stars and flowers, for their own amusement. This is referenced later, not just at the initial trade where Jude gave up everything (except the flowers) to get a picture Noah drew, but when Jude talks to Guillermo about the trees when she blurts out: “But they’re my brother’s, not mine” (163). Winning an award like the Printz Award and the Stonewall Honor Book, in is no wonder why as Nelson write this passionate story, that will make you want to hold your love ones closer, and pray for good in this life and beyond.