From Colombia To California: All The Locations In “I’ll Give You The Sun”

Discover the sunny locations that inspired Jandy Nelson’s novel, I’ll Give You the Sun.

From I Know What You Did Last Summer to The Hunger Games, the young adult literary genre has exploded in popularity throughout and beyond the 70s. One of the stand-out authors in this sphere is Jandy Nelson. Though she has only traditionally published two books, each has garnered a positive reception and impressive recognition. Her second novel, I’ll Give You the Sun follows twins Jude and Noah Sweetwine as they navigate their relationships, new lives, and identities after their mother’s death. The story touches the reader through themes of dealing with grief and family, while Nelson’s prose and character development drives you to turn each page.


Sparking the central conflict for the Sweetwine family, Guillermo, a Colombian artist, catches the eye of the twin’s mother, so much so that she intends to leave her husband for him. Unfortunately, the story follows his grief in the aftermath of the tragedy, so the reader doesn’t observe much about his or the country’s culture.

Must-see cities in Colombia include the capital, Bogotá, a cultural epicenter. Visitors can find numerous theaters, art galleries, concert halls, and other creative venues like the Museum of Modern Art of Bogotá to find artwork from local and far-off artists. Caffeine-lovers also should stop in Salento to peruse coffee farm tours and learn about the fine art of cultivating the perfect cup of joe.

California, USA

San Francisco
Photo by Cedric Letsch on Unsplash

The entire story is set near the beachy coast of California in the fictional city of Lost Cove. Unfortunately, the town’s mysterious fog and compelling characters only exist within the novel’s covers. However, the book’s author revealed in an interview that she imagines the city is located about an hour north of San Francisco. Even though the twin’s home is not modeled after that city specifically, there are parallels between the two.

The key characteristics of Lost Cove are that is a beautiful place that boasts a museum and harbor and is surrounded by cliffs and beaches on one side and hills and forests on the other. Though San Francisco is more coast than country, there are places you can visit to experienced what may have inspired this town.

The San Bruno Mountain State & County Park is a nature oasis in the middle of bustling urbanization. Botany enthusiasts can appreciate the 14 species of rare or endangered plant life, as well as host and nectar plants of endangered butterflies housed on-site. More active visitors can enjoy the park trails or other outdoor activities, such as bicycling or hiking. For a more artsy experience, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has a lot to offer.

Modern art lovers will be in good company in the galleries of the SFMMA. Exhibitions feature a variety of mediums, including: film, painting, and 3D sculptures. Visitors can also look forward to fun events like its Art Bash, a party celebrating art and artists.

The contention in the twin’s relationship is centered around their shared affinity for drawing, so much so that they both apply to the California School of the Arts. Unfortunately, Jude is the only who is accepted because she has discarded Noah’s application. This act of deception does little to improve the twin’s relationship and Jude struggles in art school afterwards.

CSA, located in Duarte, CA, is a tuition-free, donation-dependent program that boasts its balance of an environment that provides students with a challenge while nurturing their creativity. Visitors can enjoy performances put on by students from any of the four schools within the college.

After the curtain closes on the last chapter, readers can ride one more tide through the story on the sunny east coast of the United States.

Jade Hargrove

Jade is a Georgia native who has enjoys trying new foods, podcasts, and long car rides with friends. She hopes to one day travel to every French-speaking country in the world to experience the different dialects and cultures that can be found around the world.

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