I’ll Give You the Sun

I’ll Give You the Sun Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Jandy Nelson's I’ll Give You the Sun. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Jandy Nelson

Raised in New York, Boston, and San Diego, Jandy Nelson studied writing at Cornell, Brown, and Vermont College of Fine Arts. After beginning her career as a literary agent, Nelson, trained as a poet, felt drawn to writing children’s stories, and during her MFA in children’s literature at VCFA wrote the first draft of her first novel, The Sky is Everywhere, which was published to great acclaim in 2011. Her follow-up novel, 2015’s I’ll Give You the Sun, debuted at #8 on the New York Times Best Seller list and was named a notable book of 2015 by the New York Times, NPR, Publishers Weekly, and the New York Public Library. Nelson lives and writes in San Francisco.
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Historical Context of I’ll Give You the Sun

I’ll Give You the Sun is set in the present day but features little reference to contemporary culture or politics—Nelson’s narrative is focused on the insular worlds of her protagonists, Noah and Jude, who spend a lot of time in their own heads or playing fantastical thought games with one another. At the same time, Noah and Jude draw great inspiration from the past—as artists, they intensely study the works of great painters and sculptors like Jackson Pollack and Michaelangelo. Jude and Noah’s removal from the larger world around them—especially in the wake of the car accident which claims their mother’s life—is actually a historical context in and of itself, and Jandy uses the twins’ isolation in their own world to show just how stifling and paralyzing their codependent relationship is, and just how unprepared they are for a world in which the other is not the focus of it.

Other Books Related to I’ll Give You the Sun

Jandy Nelson has cited as inspiration for I’ll Give You the Sun several seminal works of contemporary young adult fiction. She writes that Francesca Lia Block’s 1989 novel Weetzie Bat—which follows a young teenage girl through a dreamlike, parallel-universe version of Los Angeles as she and her friends confront issues related to sex, love, and AIDS—was a tremendous influence on her work, in addition to Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak and Sharon Creech’s Walk Two Moons, both of which deal with sex, love, grief, and trauma.
Key Facts about I’ll Give You the Sun
  • Full Title: I’ll Give You the Sun
  • When Written: Early 2010s
  • Where Written: San Francisco, CA
  • When Published: 2015
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Young adult fiction
  • Setting: The fictional Northern California town of Lost Cove
  • Climax: Oscar and Jude save Noah from drunkenly diving off of Devil’s Drop, the highest cliff in their hometown of Lost Cove, sparking a period of reconciliation between the estranged twins and the revelation of a mountain of secrets that have piled up between them.
  • Protagonist/Antagonist: Twins Jude and Noah Sweetwine are, throughout the text, both the protagonists of their own stories and one another’s antagonists. In their alternating point-of-view chapters, Jude and Noah wrestle with their intimate but complicated relationship.
  • Point of View: First person, alternating between Jude and Noah’s perspectives

Extra Credit for I’ll Give You the Sun

The Namesake. The character of Guillermo Garcia, the fiery and unpredictable “rock star” of the sculpture world who hails originally from Colombia, may or may not be named for one of Jandy Nelson’s literary idols, the famed Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez.

Locked In. Nelson revealed in an interview with Publishers Weekly that in order to give Jude and Noah their distinctive, almost otherworldly voices, she composed the book alone in a dark room wearing earplugs, with the only light coming from her laptop. After writing Noah’s timeline all the way through, she closed the file containing those pages and began a new one containing Jude’s perspective, refusing to look back at Noah’s for notes. She wanted to keep the characters as isolated from one another in her mind as they were in the story in order to provide authentic emotion and drama.