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Teenage Book of the Month

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Published by Walker, 2015

Pretending all is well is a common coping mechanism and one that teenage twins Jude and Noah subscribe to despite the traumatic events they’ve both experienced. Their mother has died in a car crash and Noah who with his mother’s encouragement was so looking forward to art college sees his sister Jude get a place there instead.

Feeling isolated, thirteen year old Noah loves art and draws constantly and is falling in love with the boy next door. Jude couldn’t be more different; she cliff-dives, wears red-red lipstick and is super confident. They’ve been so close they can read each other's thoughts and they know each other's fears. But fast forward some years and Jude and Noah are barely speaking.

The story’s narration is shared between Noah as a thirteen year old and Jude at sixteen. While this is an unusual approach and takes a little getting used to, it serves well to unlock their difficult past experiences and reveal them effectively to the reader. Noah and Jude make sense of how they went from being like one person to becoming torn apart and finally, coming full circle back to understanding each other.

Relationships, gay and heterosexual are explored in this novel for older teenagers. So too are the themes of jealousy, loss and reconciliation. Noah and Jude, like all adolescents, make mistakes and bad choices but this is what serves to shape them into who they are.

Jandy Nelson's I'll Give You the Sun, and its predecessor The Sky Is Everywhere are both critically acclaimed, bestselling novels, have won several Young Adult Fiction Awards. I'll Give You the Sun has been sold to Warner Brothers and a screen adaptation is currently under way.