Synopsis: “We were all heading for each other on a collision course, no matter what. Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.”
At first, Jude and her twin brother are NoahandJude; inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them.
Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor.
The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world.
This radiant, award-winning novel from the acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.
Review: 5/5, OBVIOUSLY
I’LL GIVE THIS BOOK THE SUN. FIVE SUNS. More than that, if Goodreads had ever answered my impassioned plea to add a sixth star (which I sent by pony express after Ready Player One). (Pony express means mail, right? I’m a fan of that.)
How do I love thee, book? Let me count the ways. (That’s both a reference to this book and an illustration of how difficult it will be to put my intense adoration of it into, like, a semi-coherent review.) (Sidenote: I’ve never strived for anything higher than semi-coherent.)
Let’s start with the characters. God, do I love the people in this book. They are so, so, so imperfect – imperfect doesn’t even begin to cover it. They should suck, honestly. I should hate them. In fact, I should hate this whole shindig for the things that happen in it. In any other context, they’d give me second-hand embarrassment cringes so hard it’d shoot this book down to two stars. But NOT HERE. This sh*t is different.
These characters are so human. They’re so lovable and deeply good that you’d forgive them for anything. Seriously. All of them do at least one thing (and mostly more than one) that should be, like, narrative-shatteringly awful, and instead manages to make them even better. I can’t explain it. YOU JUST HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK.
This book has alternating perspectives between 2 twins: Noah when he was 13, and Jude when she’s 16 (which is the present). Noah is so creative and talented and amazing, and Jude is such a badass and so interesting and equally amazing. Their mom’s a whirlwind, which has its ups and downs, and their dad starts off not great but becomes the best. There’s Brian, who loves space, and Guillermo, one of the greatest sculptors ever, and Oscar, who I’m not going to try to put into words. (Hands down the most inherently confusing character.) They’re all so wonderful and I wish I knew them in real life and could join their lil ragtag group of pals.
The character development is just unreal.
Also, the depiction of family is pretty amazing. (I’m going to use the words “great” and “amazing” a bajillion times in this review, AND I’M NOT GOING TO APOLOGIZE.) They can mistreat each other and fight and generally seem toxic, but they all love each other and they’re all good people. SCRATCH THAT – MAGNIFICENT people. (You thought I was done talking about how much I love these characters? Ya burnt. I’m going to spend the rest of my life talking about them. Every review from now on? Name-dropping Noah and Jude. Get used to it.)
What else, what else…the writing was just really beautiful. I’m always really happy to see that in YA. It’s pretty rare for a young adult contemporary to just be genuinely, no-holds-barred gorgeous.
And y’all know I love when my books are filled with fun facts. I wish every book had some character just inserting cool information in every once in awhile. This book? EVERY CHARACTER IS DOING THAT. There’s so much fun sh*t about superstition and art and sculpting and space in this book. Ugh. God, it’s perfect. It’s like Jandy Nelson read my mind and made this book to check all my boxes. WHAT A DREAM.
I thought there’d be one major downside. That’s the discussion of fate and ~true love~ in this book, neither of which I believe in and both of which I pretty consistently find dumb in like, every YA contemporary ever. But this book, no surprise at this point, IS DIFFERENT. It’s so well done and just makes you feel all warm inside and root for the characters. Hurray, hurray. I miss this book already.
The cherry on top, you ask? The best fictional encapsulation of and response to slut-shaming I’ve ever seen is contained within THESE VERY PAGES. When thirteen/fourteen-year-old Jude and her mom are fighting about everything, including Jude’s clothing and makeup choices, mommy dearest always asks if she reallyyyyyy wants to be “that girl.” Pretty yuck, right? The only blemish on the perfect record of this masterpiece.
But then. But then! Blemish surgically removed, or whatever. (That was really gross. I’m so sorry.) Jude has a realization. A great, perfect, better-than-cherry-on-top epiphany. I like cherries, but this is more like the lottery ticket on top, or the Zac Efron in Baywatch (a bad movie) on top. Jude realizes: “Maybe Mom was wrong about that girl after all. Because that girl spits on guys who treat her badly. Maybe it’s that girl who’s been missing. […] I didn’t bring the bad luck to us, no matter how much it felt that way. It brought itself. It brings itself. And maybe it’s that girl who’s now brave enough to admit [it].”
A little bit of editing to remove minor spoilers, but how amazing is that?
Your clothing or your makeup don’t change who you are. They don’t prevent you from being a badass, or a good person, or brave.
God, I love this book. Read it in a couple days, and miss it already.
Can you believe how genuine this review was? That’s a testament to my loveeee for this book.
Bottom line: This is going on the all-time favorites list. EVERYONE: READ THIS PLEASE. Amazing, amazing, amazing. Even better the second time around.
Jandy Nelson, GIMME YOUR NEXT BOOK.