It may be hard to hear over the din of blockbuster movie franchises and John Green's superstardom, but a new voice in Young Adult literature has emerged, and her name is Jandy Nelson. You may not know her name now, but you won't forget it after you finish reading her latest novel, I'll Give You the Sun. With her follow-up to 2010's The Sky Is Everywhere, Nelson has proven herself to be an incredible addition to the ever-evolving YA genre.
I'll Give You the Sun follows Noah and Jude, teenage twins who tell two sides of a story -- Noah's half taking place years earlier, and his sister's in present day. The hinge between the two narratives is the cataclysmic death of their mother, as well as one twin's acceptance into a prestigious art school. Noah's voice crackles like a live wire, sparkling with passion and creativity. Jude is more subdued, like a simmering stew of guilt and self-imposed isolation. Secrets and regrets unravel as the characters plunge toward the redemptive finale, with some help along the way from a tortured middle-aged artist, a charming Brit, a puckish boy-next-door, and maybe a ghost or two.
Despite being narrated by two teenagers, Sun pushes the boundaries of YA--and that's not the only genre Jandy Nelson bends. While the story is set in modern-day California, there are elements of magical realism dappled throughout Jude's half, and Noah's compulsive creativity is so overwhelming that the writing in his narrative walks the line between poetry and prose. Sun is so much more than just another teenage love story with Real Life Themes; it's a meditation on life, art, family, fate, and how even the most broken people can help fix one another.
Like an artist with a paintbrush, Jandy Nelson weaves it all together to create a reading experience that can only be described as synesthetic. You can taste Noah's passion, hear the echo of Jude's grief, and feel the words leap off the page and whip across your face like grains of sand in the wind. This book will tear through you like a hurricane, leaving you in ruined awe. If you want to remember what it's like to truly surrender to a book and let it pull you under like a riptide, pick up I'll Give You the Sun and bask in it.