Twins Noah and Jude Sweetwine have always been different, yet still a lot alike with each other. They know each other so well they can finish each other’s sentences and read each other’s thoughts and feelings. Wherever one is, the other one will follow.
Jude has this haunting and arresting beauty which she got from her mother Dianne, but would always choose surfing and cliff diving over parties and boys every single time. She designs and makes her own clothes from scratch. She is eccentric and passionate with her bible verses, superstitions and old wives’ tales, and extensive knowledge of every disease that exists in the world. She has secret conversations with their dead grandmother, and likes to keep an onion in her coat pocket for protection. She is popular without even trying, with boys trying to get close to her even with her great Boy Boycott, totally the opposite of her twin brother Noah, who mostly keeps to himself.
Where Jude is opinionated, confident, loud, and strong, Noah is quiet, secretive, shy, and aloof. Everybody at school thinks he’s weird. But the transformation in Noah happens when he starts drawing on his sketch pad, and a whole new person emerges; one who is masterful at his craft, deep, talented, powerful, and intriguing.
Regardless of their differences, they are brother and sister, and they always have each other’s backs, and they are the ones who will love each other the most.
But growing up puts their relationship to the test as Noah deals with the strong, romantic feelings he has for Brian, the guy next door who loves looking at the stars and collecting meteorites and thinks he’s funny and smart. Jude struggles not to be That Girl her mother warned her about, but can’t help falling into the trap despite her better judgment; all in her efforts to find out who she really is, what she really wants, and something that will bring her closer to the mother who seems to only have eyes for her twin brother Noah.
The Sweetwine twins are further driven apart when Jude gets accepted in Noah’s dream school and he does not. Worse, Jude and Brian hook up at a friend’s party. Their parents’ strained marriage is also not helping Noah and Jude deal with all the family drama, until a horrific accident forever changes their lives, and the twins start to finally see their real family hidden underneath all those secrets and lies.
It’s a young adult novel that most teenagers, and yes, even adults can relate to, as it talks about change, growing up, first loves, heartbreak, courage, forgiveness, and family. One cannot choose your family, and the bonds you share with them are forever. Here’s one tale of a family that was driven apart by secrets and lies, and how each one managed to work their way back to each other and rebuild what once was broken.
I’m a huge fan of Jandy Nelson because she makes you feel all sorts of beautiful and sad things with her words. With this new novel, Nelson has gifted readers again with a beautiful, quiet, but stirring and powerful novel. I loved the book’s multi-dimensional characters that have depth and strength, and Nelson’s engaging storytelling, with words that leap off the page and tug at your heartstrings.