Above are Noah(left) and Jude (right), the main characters from Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You The Sun
I’ll Give You The Sun is full of plot twists and brilliant insights into the minds of main characters Noah and Jude, who are twins as well as best friends. Each chapter opens on the thoughts of one or the other, showing the audience how they think and see the world. The beginning of the book sheds a positive light on the twins’ lives, focusing on their companionship and sense of family. Noah loves to paint and draw, while Jude surfs and sculpts secret statues of flying women from wet sand. They tell each other everything, and share the world that they create with their imaginations. However, as the novel continues, Jude becomes self-centered and popular, as Noah is continually targeted by bullies and suppresses his true feelings, closeted and alone. Betrayal after betrayal strikes their weakening relationship. Selfish and impulsive, Jude tries to cuff Brian, the boy next door, who she knows Noah is in love with. When she fails, she secretly throws away her brother’s application to his dream high school. The final blow is delivered via the death of their mother. The twins split, and it seems that the two will never recover their sibling bond again.
In the aftermath, Noah discovers that his mother had an affair, and, stressed in the process of trying to cover it up, angrily outs Brian and chases him away. Jude makes a life-changing mistake, and counters it by going on a “boy-cott”. She cuts her hair and hides in sweatshirts, watching her life crumble to ruin as her father grows increasingly reserved, and her pottery is supposedly destroyed by the vengeful ghost of her mother, who Jude assumes is angry about Noah’s application. Jude relies on superstition, and her grandmother’s life guide to steer her decisions for a long time, but ultimately decides that she can’t live without her other half. Finally, after years of separation, she decides to make amends with Noah. She admits that she threw away his application and helps him win Brian back. Noah tells his remaining family about his mother’s affair, which finally helps his father recover from her death. Their lives begin to mend.
This post, I conquered the task of learning to draw boys. With little to no drawing experience under my belt, it was a difficult feat. I drew and re-drew Noah several times, trying to focus in on details and make him look as realistic as possible (though it’s digital art, so it doesn’t have to be realistic). I generally set really high standards for myself, so my perfectionist nature took control of my process until I got a result that I liked. The skills I learned while working on this post will really help me draw Levi from Fangirl, the focus subjects of my next post.
In this post’s header image, you can see two words, black and white, next to each character to represent a strength and a weakness that they possess. In his childhood, Noah expressed his boundless imagination and crafted beautiful paintings, pouring his soul into his art and creating the world he wanted to live in with paint. He was pure and full of love. As the years passed, he was struck time after time by tragedy and grief. He destroyed his paintings and crafted a seemingly nonchalant attitude to shield him from life’s emotional turbulence. Noah’s greatest weakness is the part of him he tries hardest to hide: his sadness. Jude grew up smart, both emotionally and intellectually. She read book after book in the abundance of empty time she faced following her mother’s death. She memorized medical facts from her father’s encyclopedias and spent hours on the Internet, which she nicknamed “the Oracle.” She pored over her grandmother’s superstitious life guide, full of random facts and warnings (one is referenced in my drawing via the orange in Jude’s hand: “if a boy gives a girl an orange, her love for him will multiply). She even spoke to, or imagined speaking to, her late grandmother. Her intelligence, however, had a darker side. She became calculating as a jealous teenager and used Noah’s crush against him, hurting him by trying to steal Brian away. She threw away Noah’s art school application when she failed, bringing misery onto herself and her brother. Jude’s mind was filled with thoughts and information, and yet she kept them secret. She feared Noah’s hatred if she told him about his application. When she was raped by a boy from school, she kept quiet to avoid the cruel attention. She knew that people would shoot her down when she explained why her mother’s ghost was destroying her pottery, and when she tried to impart her grandmother’s wisdom on her grieving father, he passed it off as the ravings of an old woman, paying Jude no heed. So Jude shut her thoughts in, stewing over her emotions and longing to make amends with Noah in silence. People wouldn’t accept her failures and her quirks, and she held in the truth of her actions and the extent of her ideas for years. I’ll Give You the Sun taught me that there are so many unknown layers to a someone’s personality that help define who they are, even the negative aspects of their character, such as their fears or their guilt. In order to show those you love that you support them for who they are, it is very important to embrace everything about them that makes up who they are, even the parts of them that make them imperfect.