There’s been a whole lot of rave over Jandy Nelson’s two YA Contemporary books, I’ll Give You the Sun and The Sky is Everywhere. I finally read both of them, one after another, so here’s what I think about these books!
I won’t do separate reviews for them, but rather a comparison because I liked one over the other much more, and I don’t think I have much to say about them separately. But first, a brief summary of each of the books..
I’ll Give You the Sun is about twins who used to be very close, despite them being very different, until a whole series of events happens that causes a falling out. The book has alternating POVs between the twins Noah and Jude, of which Noah’s POV is from when they were 13, and Jude’s when they are 16.
The Sky is Everywhere is about Lennie as she struggles to get over the death of her older sister, and along the way she finds herself in between two boys, one of them a new kid in school, the other her sister’s boyfriend.
In both books, Nelson adopts a casual and slightly humourous way of writing, like what you’d expect if you were listening to the thoughts of a teenager, except more coherent. Basically, the writing style is like most other YA Contemporary novels out there (except with a tinge of peculiarity because her characters are rather strange). I don’t think there’s much special about her writing style; it’s more of the plot and characters that makes her stories unique. If you want to try one of Nelson’s books, I’d recommend I’ll Give You the Sun over The Sky is Everywhere. Here’s why:
What I found most distinguishing about both books was that the characters are very idiosyncratic. In I’ll Give You the Sun, Noah is the nerdy artist who is so passionate about art that he even paints in his head, and Jude is the highly superstitious girl whose only friend is her grandma’s ghost. Together, they talk about things like dividing the world (sun, moon, ocean, flowers, trees etc) among themselves. In The Sky is Everywhere, Lennie writes poems on every surface possible and hides them everywhere, and she has an obsession with Wuthering Heights. I loved that Nelson added these bits of weird-but-somewhat-cool-ness into both stories, making her characters come to life.
However, while I felt that Noah & Jude’s idiosyncrasies were an essential part of the story in I’ll Give You the Sun, Lennie’s poem and Wuthering Heights obsession thing in The Sky is Everywhere felt superfluous and wasn’t tied in as seamlessly with the rest of the story. As such, I didn’t feel as attached to Lennie as I did Noah and Jude.
Additionally, I’ll Give You the Sun had an actual plot with a lot of things happening. Whereas in The Sky is Everywhere, not much was really happening and I felt like I was just waiting for Lennie to finally screw up and learn her lesson so that the book could move on.
Considering the four-year gap between the publishing of both books, Nelson’s writing has undoubtedly improved since her debut The Sky is Everywhere. So while The Sky is Everywhere was just okay (3 stars) to me, I did enjoy I’ll Give You the Sun (4 star read) a lot more and it’s one I would recommend.
Have you read any of Jandy Nelson’s books? How did you find them? If you’ve read both of these books, do you agree with my preference? 🙂