It takes a while to really get used to this language, and that, coupled with the two perspectives and extensive chapter lengths makes it a tad bit hard to get into. But there is SOOO much light at the end of the tunnel. DO NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN.
Now the multiple perspectives thing, I have an opinion on this. I both do and do not like it. It depends on the author. Most generic authors do the multiple perspectives because it’s like they can’t stand the fact that you don’t know how much both these people are in love with each other and yada yada, most of the time it’s not even necessary, one perspective is already bad enough, the two perspectives sound like the same people but perhaps one is more graphic than the other because apparently that sets apart girl and boy? Idfk.
Author Jandy is different, these multiple perspectives SO work for her and this novel, because not only are the perspectives actually different, they are extremely relevant, and told in different time frames, Jude at age 16 and Noah at age 13, and yes, you do find yourself getting so wrapped up in the one that when the Noah chapter wraps and the Jude one starts you’re almost mad at Jandy, especially because it goes from 100 pages of getting to know Noah and Brian to 100 pages of listening to Jude trying to explain herself and her relationships with ghosts to Oscar, herself, and Guillermo.
But push through that initial frustration, even though you feel like your life is ending when the first Noah chapter wraps and even though you want to just hate Jude, DO NOT, Jude is a fucking killer and once you get to the end of her long chapter, switching back to Noah, you once again are like, K, Jandy, come on lady, why do you need to do this to me.
I love the art themes in Jandy’s novels, wasn’t as big of a fan of The Sky is Everywhere, but in this book, the art really gives it life. Both Noah and Jude, these warring siblings that switch places in time, are filled with so much desire to create and it pushes them into these hectic downward spirals that nobody can do anything about and god is it enticing. It’s hard to get used to at first, reading the perspectives that just bubble over with oddness and color and vibrancy is hard because not a lot of people think like this, but it makes you wish they did.
There were two things that set apart this novel for me from all the other novels I’ve read this year (I’ve read 12 books so far).
1. The relationships.
God. The relationships. The pacing is a tad bit off for me, but these relationships, however long it takes for them to develop, are incredible.
- Noah and Brian
They are my favorite couple. I attached a page above so you could read a snippet of what the relationship is like, how it’s built, and why it works.
It works because Noah is stuck in the Wild Blue Yonder and Brian is so beguiled by the Wild Blue Yonder. And nobody else seems to understand the two but the two. And as I continue to immerse myself in these LGBT-themed novels, I begin to understand how these relationships start, progress, fall apart, and work. It’s all about that initial stage of experimenting and being able to trust yourself and not allow the world to suppress any of your feelings. I understand that confusion about your feelings, but if you’re homosexual, you’re kind of forced to trust yourself and trust that you can make it out alive, and luckily, the two of them do. But Noah trusts himself a lot more than Brian does. Even though Brian pretends this isn’t true, he is SOOOO insecure and SOOOO jealous of Noah, because Noah knows who he is and Brian knows who he isn’t but still tries to be that person anyway, even though he carries around and actively looks for space garbage.
So basically, what’s holding this relationship back, is Brian’s unwillingness to trust his instict, to feed the connection between head and heart. Jandy sort of hides it, sort of blames it on the souring relationship between the two siblings, (Jude and Noah) but it isn’t that at all. It is ALLL Brian
- Jude and Oscar
This one took me by surprise, I so hate Jude when her chapter starts, but I end up loving her. Quite simply put, she is a force of nature. And Oscar, even though he is so judgmental of himself, really both of them are, he has so many redeeming qualities. He is so much more than that brooding art fellow with the bad past and the dead mother and the appetite for total romantic destruction. He is alive and he is so real and he and Jude have this quirky thing about them only because, for some odd reason, they are themselves around each other, their selves that they are so adamant on burying deep in the archives of the worldly pleasures they believe they don’t deserve.
Whatever they have going, it works, and yes Jandy, I forgive you for the A-typical bad boy character because you do bad boys a hell of a lot better than ANYBODY else.
- Noah and Jude
I didn’t and still don’t understand their relationship, and that’s why it’s so good. Because you feel like they are actual living siblings who have all of their inside jokes and stories that you know not of and I love that Jandy kept their relationship more intimate. Instead of feeling like you were apart of it, because like it or not, you aren’t, you just got to watch it all unfold. And sure, you go back and forth from loving one and hating the other, and sure, they’re conniving and consistently trying to outdo the other, but as siblings, they just bounce off the pages with their reality.
And the art is what brings them together and it is evident in everything they do or say and it’s the only reason you know the two aren’t ever going to drift far apart. They’re split-aparts.
- Jude and Guillermo
Love this relationship. I love Guillermo’s character. He is the mentor Jude takes on to create this sculpture, and I know I don’t touch much on the plot, for me that wasn’t important in this novel, but in essence Guillermo is literally Jude’s spirit animal, which means, he’s just as confused by his own self as Jude is, which is why the relationship works. Why the two have this sort of cosmic understanding of each other, almost like father and daughter.
- Noah and Dianna/Jude and Dianna
Both of these relationships are equally frustrating so I don’t want to talk about them.
- Jude and Grandmother
I do not want to spoil this relationship. It’s too three dimensional paranormal fantastical to put into writing. Essentially Grandmother is a guardian angel of sorts.
2. The language
Jandy, Jandy, oh Jandy. Jandy does it best. I don’t feel like I need to say anything else, just read the page above. These kids are true artists, they hear horses galloping in Dianna’s chest, they are superstitious, they paint and draw and sculpt just because it makes them feel alive, in turn making you feel alive, and Jandy just breaks it all down. Their personalities are glittering in everything they think, say, act on. It’s incredible. And I love the briefcase full of rocks, I love the quirkiness, the way she mixes in space garbage and ghosts, the way they look at the world around them. The way they constantly second-guess themselves and take the blame for problems that nobody has any legitimate understanding of. Everything about this book is radiant. Nothing will ever compare.
Why is it missing one point? I did think that Noah’s character/relationship with Brian was too advanced to just be thirteen, so I had to take away a point for that.
And just so we are clear, this is my favorite book I’ve read this year, if you don’t read it, you’re dumb.