Author: Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publishing Date: 2016
Number of Pages: 344 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary Fiction
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?
I have first read about Nicola Yoon’s young adult masterpiece, The Sun Is Also A Star, through a book blogger. He had high praises for the book which really aroused my interest. My curiosity was further piqued when I saw a Facebook friend post a picture of the book, saying that the book gave her chills. It is for these reasons that I tried scavenging popular bookstores to grab my own copy of the book.
It took a while before I was finally able to secure my own copy of the book. Because the main theme of the book is love, I intended to finish it before the love month, February, ends. I deem it a fitting way to close the love month. Moreover, I made a resolve to use this book for my first book review. Technically this is my second book review because I made one for Mary Higgins-Clark’s Before I Say Goodbye to comply with a second year high school English requirement.
“Maybe part of falling in love with someone else is also falling in love with yourself.” ~ Daniel Jae Ho Bae
So much has been said and written about love and how it works. Most of these references to love points out to how random it is. Most of the time, love happens randomly to random people at random moments. But can someone fall in love with a little bit of help from science?
Natasha Katherine Kingsley is a 17-year old undocumented immigrant living New York City. For ten years, she and her family were able to evade the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) until her father made a drunken blunder which compromised his family. Because of his blunder, his family was ordered to be deported to their native land, Jamaica.
Daniel Jae Ho Bae is a first generation Korean American. His parents left South Korea for the United States to pursue opportunities that will ensure their children’s future. However, Daniel was forced to live under the shadows of his older brother, Charles. Under his parents’ watchful gaze, Daniel had to settle for second best. Even the school he choose to be admitted in, Yale University, is the “second best” university next to where his brother was enrolled, the “best” university, Harvard University.
It maybe chance, fate, or even destiny but these two unsuspecting personalities’ paths crossed on a busy day in the Big Apple. The book follows their journey from the moment they met, Natasha on her way to the USCIS to appeal her family’s case for the last time and Daniel on his way to a Yale University admission interview. What followed is a tale of science, fate, poetry and well, love and other its complications.
The moment Daniel set his eyes on Natasha, he was immediately struck by Cupid’s proverbial arrows. From that point on, the threads of the story was spun. However, Natasha and Daniel were each other’s antithesis. Natasha was adamant while Daniel was subservient. Natasha leans on facts, rationality and science while Daniel veers towards fiction, irrationality and poetry. Natasha processes things in a logical manner while Daniel wears his heart on his sleeves. Because of these seemingly irreconcilable differences, the main characters are relatable and sincere.
Though it was their first time to meet each other, Daniel immediately confessed his feelings to Natasha. However, his romantic overture was turned down because Natasha deemed herself incapable of love. But Daniel was unperturbed. Being the hopeless romantic that he is, he promised her that he’ll make her fall for him through science to which the “scientific” but skeptic Natasha agreed to. But did she fall in love with him? That would be for you to find out.
“Life is just a series of dumb decision and indecisions and coincidences that we choose to ascribe meaning to.” ~ Natasha Katherine Kingsley
Spanning a day, the story is slowly but ingeniously built up, with tidbits on minute details like the eyes, multiverses and hair sprinkled all over the story. These philosophical discussions added a different charm to the book. Also inserted all over the book are the stories of the minor characters which the main characters encountered through the day. There side stories, told in their own perspectives, showed how their actions affected the main characters in the course of the day.
But the book is more than just a love story or a young adult fiction. The main characters’ journey take us a trip to an entirely different facet of New York City that is beyond the strobe lights of Times Square, the glamour of Park Avenue and the serenity of Central Park. It takes us to the more unusual sections of Manhattan. It shows us the obverse side of the “American Dream.”
The American Dream isn’t always about the glitz and the glamour. It talks about the plights of those who chase their American Dreams. On one side of the spectrum you have Natasha’s father who began living in his mind after failing to achieve the grandeur and fame he yearned for. Daniel’s father, on the other hand, had to satisfy himself with operating a black hair care to keep his family from experiencing the poverty he once experienced in South Korea.
Other than the American Dream, the book also delved on other serious topics like immigration, deportation and racism. Cultural differences were also written all over the book. These topics were seamlessly infused by the author into the general picture without maligning the rest of the story. These topics highlight a current hot topic in the United States, President Trump’s immigration ban.
“You should never take long shots. Better to study the odds and take the probably shot. However, if the long shot is your only shot, then you have to take it.”
Overall, I really liked how the book is built on differences, may it be cultural or personal, to complete a different atmosphere. The book also illuminates us on the values of personal choices and how they can affect us, and the people around us. It also talks about opportunities and seizing them. As the saying goes, strike the iron while it is hot. More than these things and lessons, I like how the book echoed lessons on fighting for both love and passion. The old adage is echoed, fight for what you love.
I have always deemed young adult fiction as shallow, boring, redundant, and predictable. Because of these, I tried to avoid these works as much as possible. When I read a young adult fiction, I always look for something that separates it from the rest. In this case, Nicola Yoon was able to brilliantly and boldly dodge that trap young adult fiction usually falls into. By promoting cultural diversity, the author was able to successfully weave a story that celebrates clashing heritages and then fuses them into one synchronized poetic literary work.
About the Author
Nicola Yoon first came to the spotlight when her debut novel Everything, Everything swept the New York Times bestseller list. A born hopeless romantic, she is currently residing in Los Angeles, California with her family. She grew up in Jamaica and Brooklyn, New York.