Sunday, 25 February 2018

Book Review: I’ll give you the Sun

The writing style of this novel is great; the mix of male and female, different ages and perspectives works really well throughout the book and helps the reader to understand decisions and life events much more thoroughly. In all honesty, I’m always a fan of dual points of view when the technique is used well, as it was in this case. I liked the contrast between the twins personalities as children at the start of the novel and teenagers towards the end of it. Noah and Jude are two very different people but also unique; having an artist for their mother, she’s a key figure in their unusual views on the world. Noah is a quiet, hardworking child who is desperate for his art to have meaning in his life, whereas Jude is the confident one, a keen surfer, sculptor, dressmaker and talks for both of them the majority of the time. Considering that, they have a very close relationship and friendship with one another, although naturally that does change as they get older. However, you could also argue that they start to lose their closeness because of the way that they treat each other; they’re not respectful of each other’s wishes, fighting over which twin each parents likes or loves the most and who has the biggest and best group of friends. Typically childish behaviour, in fact.

One of things that made me fall in love with Nelson’s chosen narrative style was that as a reader, you were able to see whatever each twin saw their life as. You saw Noah and Jude at their best and worst, strengths and weakenesses, which make up a human. Both of the twins are internally struggling for a variety of reasons, but ultimately the two of them are understandably struggling with the loss of their beloved mother and grandmother. It’s particularly hard when death comes by a freak accident rather than natural causes. Teenagers deal with things differently, however both twins become a shadow of their former self, although Jude seems to be particularly affected, constantly living in fear of ghosts and other superstitions. I was hooked in very quickly by the writing style, the narrative voices and the journey that the twins go on during the snippets of their lives that we see. There is such a beautiful thing in that each twin with their individual narrative only tells half of a story, so that together, they make a whole. Which was a nice touch, as although the twins lost their closeness as they got older, they still cared about each other deeply, bound by the events that made them both extremely unhappy. Noah seems to suddenly excel at everything, particularly sports and Jude seems to struggle with even the easiest parts of life, to the point that her artworks are abysmal and her tutors are beyond concerned. Everything she makes seems to smash and collapse, without any reason for it.

This is not the kind of book that appeals to everyone as the writing style is very unique; that said, it definitely appealed to me. I loved the creativity that flowed through the pages of this book, from the little tidbits about portraits, paintings and sculptures to the doodles that are across many of the pages, clearly demonstrating parts of the novel in a visual way. A range of topics are discussed throughout the novel, such as death, relationships, sexuality and depression, amongst many others. The way that the subjects are breached is delicate, with care, which is always important in Young Adult fiction; for example, the subject of virginity was handled well, but realistically by talking about regret and age from a young persons point of view. All of the characters have clear imperfections, laid out for the reader to see; yet regardless of the imperfections, each of the characters are genuinely loveable as they all have some redeeming features, things that keep them relatable. The characterisation of the twins in particular is fantastic, seeing Noah at 13 and Jude at 16, you’re able to really understand the differences between the two of them regardless of age and gender. You see them grow, change completely (as teenagers often do) and witness them struggle with the guilt that they both hold from their earlier years. 

As I’m an arts graduate, the creativity strewn across the pages of this novel really hit home for me. Noah’s input especially had some beautifully written pieces of prose, using imagery to make you see the world through his eyes. For example, he described other people in colours and shades (rather like seeing an aura) instead of purely words, whereas Jude was very superstitious, describing her conversations with the ghosts of her grandmother and feeling the presence of her mother even after death. Despite the artistic side to the novel, there was a lot of realism included, such as infidelity and parents at war, choosing their favourite child to spoil. There was something about this book that was such a satisfying read; a lovely story that held a lot of thoughts about truth and how to live your life your way, without being concerned about the opinions of others. With a book as unique as this one is, it is important to just fall into the flow of the writing, of the stories that are being told that are somehow, eventually interwoven. It was a beautiful read, one that I’m sure I’ll want to reread and fall in love with all over again in the future; I definitely recommend this, I fell in love with it so quickly that 400 pages seemed to fly by.

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