by T. Mack
“I’ll Give You the Sun” is a story told in two parts by twin brother and sister, Noah and Jude. Noah tells the story of their lives as it leads up to an experience that shattered and reshaped their world. Jude tells their story as it unfolded afterward. The narrative jumps back and forth between the two voices and time periods.
The style of storytelling that has a reader jump from one narrator to another is very popular in current literature. When done well, it can create an interesting paradigm between characters and help the reader to understand each one better by highlighting the differences between them. When done well, the method allows us to be engaged with each character in a more intimate way, come to know them better, and be more invested in their story because we are able to experience it with them. It also lets us into the mind of multiple characters so we have a variety of perspectives from which to view the same situation. This can give the story more depth, more possibilities, and room for more revelations. However, when this style of storytelling is done poorly, it creates a narrative that is jarring, disjointed, and inconsistent. So while the style brings greater possibilities for good, it also comes with greater risks. Fortunately for this story, Jandy Nelson was able to pull off this method incredibly well.
The voices of Noah and Jude are both vibrant and wholly unique from one another. Each tells their story in a way that allows it to stand alone but also compliment the story being told alongside it. In the end, the stories connect and it is one story being told. While the idea of switching narrators as well as time periods sounds like a formula for dizziness and confusion, Nelson manages to sculpt an artful and compelling depiction of two siblings coping with life, love, and heartache.
At the same time, we are introduced to secondary characters who play various roles in the lives of Noah and Jude. Through the course of the story, we come to care for these characters as well, and are invested not only in their relationships with the twins, but also how their lives may go beyond the end of the story.
“I’ll Give You the Sun” is a well-written and intriguing piece of fiction featuring a set of siblings that it is very easy to care about. The structure of the story is unique as are the voices of the characters who narrate it. Since they are both artists, the language and description used in the book are fanciful and at times, fantastical. This element adds to the pleasure of the read. “I’ll Give You the Sun” is a very good book and I really enjoyed reading it. I appreciate the recommendation from my friends and I pass the recommendation on to my readers.
RATING: 4 SHIELDS