READ WITH ME: Chapter One
Welcome to my first book club post on I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson! This will focus only on the first chapter of the book. If you didn’t catch what my “Read with Me” series is about or what this particular book is about, go ahead and check out my previous post. Read on if you’re all caught up!
“This is how it all begins.”
I don’t know about you, but I found this to be such a powerful first sentence. It fills my belly with the promise of something. It’s too soon to tell if this something will be good or bad, but you know the unremarkable is going to happen. It will alter the narrator’s perspective forever—is there any better place to start a story?
I immediately fell in love with Noah. Here’s a thirteen-year-old boy who’s an artist and a closeted homosexual (though he knows people—and the toaster—have their suspicions). His voice is so strong on the page. It wasn’t a voice I clicked with right away, but I knew I loved the character. The longer I read from his point of view, the more I liked him and his way of telling the story.
The only thing that didn’t grow on me within the first chapter were the little titled artworks in parethesis. You know exactly what I’m talking about: “(A Series: Boy Inside a Box of Darkness)” or “(Family Portrait: Mom Communes with the Dead at Dinner).” I totally get what Nelson was going for, and in some ways, I think it works effectively. But for the most part, it just pulled me out of the story. By the end of that chapter, I stopped reading them altogether. What were your thoughts on these?
One thing I LOVED about this first chapter was the family dynamic. There’s Noah, the underdog with powerful thoughts but a reluctant mouth. Then there’s Jude. She’s a little louder, more vibrant, and completely in-sync with Noah. Mom and Dad are polar opposites of each other. Where Mom is spunky and an obvious artist, Dad is a cold skeptic. He’s not a fan of Noah, and Noah knows that, which made my heart ache.
I thought the final paragraph of chapter one was particularly powerful:
“Jude and I play a lot of games…The Drowning Game goes like this: If Mom and Dad were drowning, who would we save first? (Me: Mom, duh. Jude: depends on her mood.) And there’s the other variation: If we were drowning, who would Dad save first? (Jude.) For thirteen years, Mom’s stumped us. We had absolutely no idea who she’d dredge out of the water first.
And without sharing a glance, we both know it.”
Wow, if that doesn’t hint at a shifting relationship between siblings, I don’t know what will. Parents playing favorites, the underdog finally winning anything. And when you’re thirteen, what your parents think means a lot. I expect tensions will be high between Jude and Noah in his coming chapters…but what do you think?
I can’t wait to read chapter two from Jude’s perspective. Eager to see where the future takes them!