I'll Give You the Sun

Jandy Nelson, read by Julia Whelan and Jesse Bernstein. Brilliance Audio, , unabridged, 11 CDs, 13 hrs., $29.99 ISBN 978-1-4558-4936-9
This engrossing coming-of-age novel of artistic twins Noah and Jude unfolds in an unusual way: the twins tell the story in alternating first-person chapters, but Noah's chapters take place when they're 13, and Jude's take place three years later, at age 16. In the intervening years, a tragedy has occurred, tangled up in a messy web of betrayals, lies, and secrets, which gradually reveal themselves. Bernstein and Whelan are both excellent narrators. As 13-year-old Noah, Bernstein conveys all the yearning, hope, and insecurity of an adolescent boy: the swooning highs and crushing heartbreak of first love, the worry of hiding the fact that he's gay, the need for parental approval, the fear of bullies, and the hope of getting into a prestigious arts school. Whelan's chapters take place in the aftermath of the tragedy and estrangement of the twins, and in her voice we hear all of Jude's self-loathing, guilt, and bitterness, and the hard shell she has constructed to shut out the world. Whelan is also pitch-perfect at voicing an English ex-junkie trying to put his life together. She can't quite manage a Spanish accent for the reclusive middle-aged artist whom Jude wants to be her mentor (the accent she attempts almost sounds Russian), but she does bring out his colorful personality: a fierce, passionate, desperate, eccentric artistic genius. This emotionally nuanced rendition of a memorable novel is highly recommended. Ages 14–up. A Dial hardcover. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 02/23/2015
Release date: 09/01/2014
Genre: Audio
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