Title: The Sun Is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre: YA Contemporary
Published: November 1, 2016
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Quick Synopsis: Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true? (Goodreads)
My Thoughts: I listened to Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything over the summer on a long car ride, and maybe it was just the audio book, but I was a bit underwhelmed considering the hype. It wasn’t that I disliked it, but I didn’t feel particularly strong about it one way or the other. However, from the moment I first heard about The Sun Is Also a Star, I really wanted to read it. The premise, a girl on the brink of deportation, a boy her total opposite, chance, and with a little bit of science thrown in, sounded so up my alley, which is saying a lot since I hardly ever find myself reading contemporary these days. So I ignored my feelings about Everything, Everything, pre-ordered this book, and eagerly anticipated its release. I even put aside a couple fantasy novels to read it in the first couple days of its release.
I was pulled into The Sun Is Also a Star right from the epigraph, where Yoon quoted Carl Sagan and T.S. Eliot. I like science (astronomy in particular), and I like poetry. Then the prologue came and I was pulled further by this first line.
“Carl Sagan said that if you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”
Alright, I thought. I’m in. Did I mention I love when science plays into the overall theme of a book? Because I do. I loved all of the mini chapters that were interspersed throughout this book that described scientific meanings of the events that happened, and I liked them because they showed off the romantic side of science. I love science, but I’m no scientist. I didn’t major in any form of it, nor am I particularly good at most of it. But I find it fascinating, and I enjoy the romantic side of it. Don’t judge. So I found those chapters fulfilling in a not-too-complicated, this-sounds-beautiful kind of way.
Another aspect of the chapter structure that I enjoyed was how some of the minor characters that get introduced in a protagonist’s chapter would then get a quick chapter to themselves after. This method really showed how not everything is always as it appears to be, especially regarding the people that pop up in our lives that we don’t know well or even never see again. It drove home the theme of everybody being connected in some way. I loved that.
I also loved the characters. Natasha and Daniel are total opposites from each other. Where Natasha makes choices based on science and facts and reasoning, Daniel is the romantic, idealistic poet. They shouldn’t be compatible at all, and yet they are. They have different upbringings, but are still able to connect on some things. I really enjoyed how this book handed the topic of deportation and race, and I thought it was refreshing to see two people of color as the leading protagonists. Natasha’s story is heartbreaking, but all too real. This book highlighted the realities of not only being an illegal immigrant, but also of being black in America. Meanwhile, Daniel struggles with his racist family, his cruel brother, and having to decide between doing what he wants with his future vs what his parents want for him. Other issues such as poverty and assimilation, come up throughout the story as well. Admittedly, most of these topics are things that I, a white middle-class female, have never had to deal with, but I think it was important for me to read this book to get a deeper understanding of the issues PoC face and to hear it from an author of color. I gained so much from this novel.
This book is about real life issues, but it is also about chance and the possibility of love at first meeting, both of which I thought were done well. I loved the depiction of the debate between “meant to be, everything happens for a reason” and “coincidence.” At one point in the book, Natasha points out that every little thing had to work perfectly in order for the universe to come into being, and so a mere human thing like love or fate could only be coincidence. And Daniel’s more romantic idea of fate and connectivity was compelling as well. In the end, I still didn’t know where I stood, but the point it that this book made me think of things beyond myself. It did that several times, in fact.
The last aspect of this book that really stood out was Yoon’s honest, compelling writing style. I liked the way she wrote in a way that made me think, the way she always drove the story forward with momentum and flow, the way she made me feel like I was apart of this one long day that made up the entirety of the novel. The one day was fleeting yet never-ending at the same time, and I was invested from the start.
The one thing I had trouble with was the insta-love. I know the entire point of the story is to prove that two people can connect right away and that life is full of surprises and random connections, but it was still hard for me to get behind at times. I continually had to put myself in either of the protagonists shoes and imagine myself in their position. Only when I did that, did it became easier to see how they would fall so quickly for each other. Beyond that, everything else seemed realistic and perfectly plotted.
In the end, I really enjoyed The Sun Is Also a Star, and I’m glad I decided to pick it up. I think it’s an important read that many people could potentially connect with. If you’ve read Everything, Everything and enjoyed that, or you just want an honest read, I would definitely recommend this book.
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Until next time,