Jude and her brother, Noah, are incredibly close twins. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude surfs and 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 divisive ways - until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as an unpredictable new mentor.
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.Writing
I'm going to do my best to write this without shrieking or flailing and just stick to the facts about how well-written this novel is. What I found most amazing was how clearly I could picture every scene and every character in this book, despite the fact that Nelson doesn't include a lot of description. I'm quick to admit that most of the time when I read, I have vague pictures of things in my head, but I focus more on what's happening than on how it "looks" in my mind. I think the reason I found this one so easy to picture was that the characters are just so very real.
That doesn't mean that I think the characters were entirely believable - I spent the first chapter feeling really weird about Noah and the way his mind works. I'm still not willing to say that I think she captured a believable voice with him. But the point of a novel isn't always realism. And I think that in this one, the character of Noah is so much more than having a believable teenage voice. He represents something, and his language reflects that.
Once I got used to the metaphorical language and brilliant artistic images that are thrown around so perfectly, I just fell in love with who Noah and Jude are and how they relate to each other and to their family. It's something I continue to find myself thinking about a mulling over even after having finished the book, because there is just so much there in terms of the ideas that Nelson is putting out, in addition to the compelling story and lovable characters.
I feel almost sacrilegious comparing a book, especially a YA book, to Bel Canto, which is my very favorite book ever. Bel Canto was the first book I read that literally took my breath away and I am thrilled to report that Jandy Nelson replicated that amazing experience in this book. It's just beautifully done. The words are beautiful, the story is beautiful, and the meaning of it all is, yep, beautiful. I've found myself retelling scenes in my head throughout the week, while I'm not reading, just because thinking about it is that much fun. And I don't necessarily mean light or fluffy fun, because it's hard to read at times and deals with some really difficult subject matter. It was fun in the way that something that pulls at your heartstrings and makes you sit up and pay attention is fun.
I really can't think of anyone I wouldn't recommend this book to. I think there's something there to appeal to all readers, including those who aren't typically drawn to YA. I recommend going into it with an open mind and not expecting to find the characters to be accurate depictions of your average teen. Noah and Jude are anything but average, but I think the amazing writing and the deeper meanings more than qualify any suspension of disbelief required.
Thanks to NetGalley for provding a copy for me to review.