This week I read the book I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson and, like so many other readers, I was completely taken aback. Reader after reader, review after review, raves about Nelson’s elevated style of writing. This Book Trailer does a great job of explaining the plot line and capturing the tone of the story with imagery and music for those unfamiliar.
One of the things that is so striking for most readers is the style of writing. Nelson places her two main characters’ stories in 3 years apart, taking a sort of Quentin Tarantino-esque approach to playing with the discourse of a story to emphasize different events in different ways. This book review on youtube comments on the way Nelson masterfully weaves her characters and plot lines in a complicated and intricate way. She also goes on the comment on how this writing style can be hard to get through. She comments that the language and use of metaphoric speech can be elevated for some readers and that, along with the character-driven aspect of the novel, can slow down the pace for some readers.
Interestingly, she also claimed that she had a hard time connecting to the characters, something I myself found to be as far from the truth as one might get. My opinion is shared by a few other critics of the novel. This Critic raves about the way Nelson includes the reader in the story and develops the characters to create a beautiful relationship between the twins that leaves the reader unable to put the book down. Another Critic also comments on how real Nelson’s characters seem. She continues by stating that this novel is an instant classic form the start and one that could “remake the world.”
Nelson comments on her intense characters in a Q&A where she says that the characters “crash landed in her mind” sort of as-is and her real challenge was finding a way to tell their highly complex story. And tackle that challenge she did. This Critic believes that Nelson’s use of metaphors and ways of tackling big topics like grief, loss, betrayal, etc. puts her in a class with Young Adult Literature power-houses such as John Green and Rainbow Rowell and says that reading the book is “a coming of age experience in itself.”
The book has exploded in popularity and according to this article there is even buzz about a possible movie in the works.
Jandy Nelson also has a debut book, The Sky is Everywhere which is absolutely on my list to read next. This Review of it describes and intense story of loss that involves a girl abruptly losing her older sister and how she deals with it. Again, Nelson’s use of slight humor and very real characters explores how to deal with extremely tough issues, and again like I’ll Give You the Sun does a great job of including a romance without it being the central theme for the main girl.
All and all, I think that Jandy Nelson is certainly someone to watch for more genius, moving, intense, roller coaster of books that will be a great addition to a future class library and would look great on anyone’s reading list.