My rating in stars: 5 stars
My rating in words: New all-time favorite
What it’s about:
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.
My thoughts (Spoiler-free):
“We were all heading for each other on a collision course, no matter what. Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.”
Oh my. This is easily my favorite read of the year so far. I honestly wasn’t expecting to love it as much. But I did. I ADORED this book. It pushed all the right buttons and managed to inspire me immensely. It made me feel pretty much every emotion on the spectrum and moved me so much. But as much as I just want to shout “FEELS! FEELS, SO MANY FEELS!”, let me try and explain this in a more or less coherent way.
First of all, the writing style. It is gorgeous and poetic and artistic and full of beautifully crafted metaphors. So while it does take some getting used to at first and may not be equally appreciated by everybody, I did fall in love with it pretty much on page two already. It was also so inspiring and made me want to get up right away and do something creative.
“We wish with our hands, that’s what we do as artists.”
I almost feel like I can’t talk about the writing style without talking about the characters. Because the story is told in alternating point of views: either from 13-year old Noah or from 16-year old Jude. And it feels like you are inside their head and reading their most inner thoughts. I loved how they were both so quirky, unique and artistic in their thoughts, but still so completely different from each other and easily recognizable. I loved both their POV’s, but I must say I really fell in love with Noah’s POV the most. I wish I could see the world the way he does.
The brother-sister dynamic is what drives the whole book and I loved how real it felt. They used to be best friends, inseparable until something happened that drove them apart. We spend most of the book trying to figure out what went wrong and where, through the alternating POV’s and timelines. Their relationship was so deeply flawed and even though they both did quite a few hateful things to the other, they were also both still fiercely protective of eachother. They just felt like such a real, flawed brother-sister duo and I loved getting to know both of them.
The entire book is actually very family-centric. Though there is but a small cast of secondary characters, most of the interactions felt very focused on family. Complete with all the ups and downs. Both Noah and Jude, their mother and father, and even their deceased grandmother, play such a big role in the story. Not to mention, they all felt so real they could have jumped right off the page. And even the non-family secondary characters all felt just as flawed and real and lovable.
“It was right and wrong both. Love does as it undoes. It goes after, with equal tenacity, joy and heartbreak.”
Which brings me to the romance, which feels just as flawed and real as the characters, but is still so adorable as well. Noah is struggling with the fact that he’s gay and in love with his best friend, Brian. And Jude is on a boy boycott but somehow can’t stay away from the troubled model Oscar. Both romances are filled with sweet, funny, heartwarming and heartbreaking moments. But what I loved especially is that both romances are tied to the story and to the character development of Noah and Jude in such beautiful ways. It always felt intrinsic to the story and never just added on to have some romance.
“I gave up practically the whole world for you,” I tell him, walking through the front door of my own love story. “The sun, stars, ocean, trees, everything, I gave it all up for you.”
Overall, I just felt like this book was a piece of art itself. It’s a masterpiece: a story of family, tragedy, growing apart and coming together, love and loss, endings and new beginnings. And art. A whole lot of gorgeous, breath-taking, life-changing art.
“Meeting your soul mate is like walking into a house you’ve been in before – you will recognize the furniture, the pictures on the wall, the books on the shelves, the contents of drawers: You could find your way around in the dark if you had to.”
“I love you,” I say to him, only it comes out, “Hey.”
“So damn much,” he says back, only it comes out, “Dude.”
He still won’t meet my eyes.”
“Or maybe a person is just made up of a lot of people,” I say. “Maybe we’re accumulating these new selves all the time.” Hauling them in as we make choices, good and bad, as we screw up, step up, lose our minds, find our minds, fall apart, fall in love, as we grieve, grow, retreat from the world, dive into the world, as we make things, as we break things.”
“Quick, make a wish.
Take a (second or third or fourth) chance.
Remake the world.”
“Reality is crushing. The world is a wrong-sized shoe. How can anyone stand it?”
“I remember Guillermo saying the cracks and breaks were the best and most interesting parts of the work in my portfolio. Perhaps it’s the same with people and their cracks and breaks.”