Published by Dial Books on September 16, 2014
Pages: 384 pages
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A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell
Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.
This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.
When you read a Jandy Nelson novel, it’s an experience unlike any other. There’s unbridled joy and passion and despair in her characters, and their lives are messy and imperfect and full of yearning. Her writing feels almost impressionistic to me in its vibrancy, ability to invoke emotion, and painterly observations of human nature, with the kind of unfettered freedom of expression you might find in great contemporary Aussie YA novels, or the seriousness of purpose of a Gayle Forman one.
With I’ll Give You the Sun releasing in stores this month, and with the book recently optioned for a film by Warner Bros., the author’s with us today as part of the official blog tour to tell us about how how a teacher inspired her to look at her writing in a whole new way. The very best stories are the ones that feel emotionally true, and this anecdote explains so much about the connection Jandy Nelson fans feel with the author’s books.
The Best Writing (and Life) Advice I Ever Got
by Jandy Nelson
When I was a graduate student at Vermont College of Fine Arts (a low residency MFA program in writing for children and young adults), I was lucky to get Deb Wiles as my first mentor. She’s the author of many amazing middle grade novels including the National Book Award finalist Each Little Bird that Sings. She’s also a warm-hearted, generous person and a brilliant teacher. Before going to this school, I’d never written a word of fiction. Not. One. Word. I wrote poetry, lots and lots of it that I mostly squirreled away Emily Dickinson-style in boxes in my closet (still there). I’d been devouring fiction since I was a child, and spent my days as a literary agent editing and championing works of fiction, but writing a novel myself was something that never occurred to me. The reason I had travelled 3,000 miles to this program was because I’d fallen in love with picture books.
The first work I sent to Deb contained some picture books I’d labored over and a short autobiography. She wrote back very excited about “my voice” but not in the picture books I’d sent her. She wrote: “In (the autobiography) you are unselfconscious, present, you are you, and that is the voice that will bring you into the world of children’s literature.”
I was shocked. I’d shot off the autobiography in less than an hour, had hardly thought about it. How could that inconsequential piece of writing contain my voice? I went back and reread it. And then I saw it, saw something that wasn’t so much in the other writing—I saw me. I was all over those pages: what I loved, what made me laugh, what made me despair, what made me tick. The rhythm and diction and syntax and cadences all matched the way I spoke. Writing it had felt as natural to me as talking to a good friend or singing in the shower when no one’s home.
It was a lightning strike moment. The one when I realized I could and would write a novel because what Deb was saying was this: All you have to do is be yourself, but on the page.
And can’t we all do that?
The next day I started writing The Sky Is Everywhere.
Now, after writing two novels, I believe this more than ever, believe the only way to unlock the hearts and minds of your characters, to unlock their inner and outer worlds is by unlocking your own. Ray Bradbury describes it beautifully. He says: “I finally figured out that if you are going to step on a live mine, make it your own. Be blown up, as it were, by your own delights and despairs.” And Guillermo in I’ll Give You the Sun essentially says the same thing to Jude when he tells her that he can’t find her anywhere in her artwork.
I think this is not only sage writing advice, but also some pretty good living advice. As the always-himself Oscar Wilde says: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
About the Author
Jandy Nelson, like her characters in I’ll Give You the Sun, comes from a superstitious lot. She was tutored from a young age in the art of the four-leaf clover hunt; she knocks wood, throws salt, and carries charms in her pockets. Her debut novel, The Sky Is Everywhere, was on multiple Best Books of the Year lists, was a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults pick, earned numerous starred reviews, has been translated widely, and continues to enjoy great international success. Currently a full-time writer, Jandy lives and writes in San Francisco, California—not far from the settings of The Sky Is Everywhere and I’ll Give You the Sun. Visit her online at www.jandynelson.com or find her on twitter at @jandynelson.
Win a copy of The Sky is Everywhere!
Thanks to our friends at Dial Books, you have the chance to win a new paperback edition of the author’s debut, The Sky is Everywhere. You’ve probably seen the rave reviews for this book in the blogsphere, and since it touches on the themes of loss and love, it makes a really nice companion piece to If I Stay by Gayle Forman.
Open to U.S. residents only. All you need to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form and leave a thoughtful comment below telling us why you’d like to win a copy of the book! See entry form for complete details. Good luck!
Review and giveaway copies were provided by the publisher. Author photo courtesy of Sonya Sones. Be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour, featuring guest posts, interviews, giveaways, and more!