From the critically acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere, a radiant novel that will leave you laughing and crying – all at once. For fans of John Green, Gayle Forman and Lauren Oliver.
Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close – until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don’t realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.
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It’s been so long since I’ve read and loved my first book of this author that I had to look up the year—2016. From The Sky is Everywhere, I vaguely remember the plot and how engaged I was with the described feelings. But given that I probably wouldn’t like one of the main happenings of this book nowadays, I was always a bit afraid of reading this next book by Jandy Nelson. I shouldn’t have been. There surely is a shared emphasis on family, the relationship between the siblings, and loss. This book is quite distinct from my memory of the other.
“I love you,” I say to him, only it comes out, “Hey.”
“So damn much,” he says, only it comes out, “Dude.”
– page 156
Two perspectives, two timelines
Jandy not only tells the story of twin siblings but also allows us to read their emotions. Noah narrates the happenings as they are 13/14 years old. Jude narrates their life at 16. The perspectives and the initially very long chapters alternate. Meanwhile, we make more and more connections between the events and connected emotions. Their relationship stars out quite close but soon poses challenges on them both so that we’re intrigued to find their roots.
More than that, in between their perspectives, they suffer from a great loss that complicates and darkens their lives even more. I loved discovering the links between their individual narratives and experiences. Especially Noah’s point of view drew me in at first. But from Jude’s second chapter, I also felt extremely close to her. Due to her supernatural relationships, I felt somewhat disconnected at first, but grew closer to her due to her backstory.
Back to my bedroom, I have to stop myself from taking the baseball bat to everything, the missing’s so bad. If only there was something in the bible to really help us. If only there was something to unflip the car (five times, according to the eyewitness), unshatter the windshield, uncrinkle the guardrail, unspin the wheels, unslick the road. Something to unbreak the twenty-two bones in her body including the seven in her neck, uncollapse her lungs, unstop her heart, and unhermorrhage her brilliant brain.
But there isn’t.
– page 341
A family story with some intriguing extra players
Jude and Noah are surely the focus of the story. I nonetheless also loved discovering the lives of Guillermo, Oscar, their dad, and their mom. And that, while getting to know them in the present narrative. Their additional stories are intertwined with the twin’s experiences—sometimes in a fateful, for my taste to accidental way. But given that the book also features ghosts and supernatural happenings, that’s consistent with its set-up.
Especially in the intense scenes between the siblings and their love interests, I felt my heart break, skip a beat, and crunch due to experiencing so many emotions. I was surely invested in their love lives but also in their eventual make-up. I did surely not expect to find that many mysteries within this contemporary YA story. Witz every one of the revelations, I fell for it even more. And every revealing dialogue and emotional moment touched my heart as it hasn’t been moved in a while.
Although I wasn’t expecting Jandy Nelson to emotionally move my current self as she did with my seven years younger one, she surely did. It took me not even two pages to fall for Noah, but about two of Jude’s chapters to fall for her. Eventually, both of their perspectives drew me in and made my heart skip beats through their intense relationship to each other and to their individual love interests. With this, Jandy Nelson granted us another moving and important YA story about loss, family, hope, and love.