The Complex Characters of “I’ll Give You the Sun” And Why I Love Them


By Anna Murphy, Sports Editor

Jandy Nelson’s book, “I’ll Give You the Sun” has to be one of my all-time favorite stories in the entire library. It is a story about twins who are so alike, yet total opposites at the same time. Nelson has the unique ability to tell one story from many different character’s perspectives, while expertly leaving the reader confused, shocked, and enlightened all at once.

So, the story begins with one of the main characters, Noah Sweetwine. He’s just a fourteen-year-old boy who doesn’t know who he is. He is a character that everyone can relate with, in the way that he always feels a little bit out of place. I love Noah. He is quite possibly one of my favorite characters in all of young adult fiction. I first started to like him as a character because I simply felt bad for him. In the first chapter of the book, he’s getting bullied. Then, there’s the fact that he feels trapped in his own body. Noah starts to fall for the boy next door, literally. Noah’s story is told from the perspective of a young teen who doesn’t understand his place in society. He is just so sweet and confused that it makes me want to just give him a big hug and some helpful relationship advice. But whether it be discovering his sexuality or just growing up in general, Noah has a hard young adulthood. I guess I just took pity on him right away, and then fell in love with him as a character throughout the telling of his story. Noah represents the people in this world who don’t specifically fit into societal roles or meet societal expectations, which is hard. But the way he overcomes this feeling and discovers what he wants out of life is truly inspirational to me.

The next piece of the puzzle is Jude Sweetwine, Noah’s twin sister. I definitely have a strong love/hate relationship with Jude. This is mostly because I connect with Jude on some level. She’s a teenage girl growing up, discovering boys, and getting in fights with her mom. All classic “girl” things that I love to read about and listen to her struggles with. Jude goes through a sort of identity crisis when her mom dies. She stops wearing her favorite clothes, stops doing makeup, and loses inspiration for her works of art. These hardships are what make me like Jude. She is painted in such a strong light that says, “Yeah, I’ve been through some nasty stuff and, yeah, I am still standing tall.” That is girl power. And I love some good girl power. But, as I mentioned before, I do hate Jude a little bit. She does some truly horrible things out of pure jealousy. While Jude struggles with her identity, Noah is struggling the same way, but Jude makes it worse. She betrays her twin multiple times by doing some pretty disgusting things to mess with not only his romantic relationships but his artistic career as well. Jude makes some extremely dumb decisions throughout the story that end up hurting her and her family, which is the main reason for my hatred of her. She seems to represent what happens when you let bad experiences corrupt who you are and how you act.

Both Noah and Jude have a really tough life, tougher than anything I’ve ever had to face. And their stories are both made up of romantic troubles, mental instability, and questioning who they are in this messed up world. While reading this book, I laughed, I cried, and I questioned my entire existence. And if that doesn’t match the description of a good book, then I don’t know what does.