THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR by Nicola Yoon exudes as much as brilliance as the stars above in this unique boy-meets-girl story.
***I was given an advanced copy of The Sun is Also a Star by the publisher for an honest review***
The Sun is Also a Star by best-selling author Nicola Yoon focuses on the chance meeting of a Jamaican-born girl named Natasha and a Korean-American boy named Daniel and the twelve hours that follow. They find a mutual attraction toward each other and while Natasha considers herself more practical, not one to believe in love-at-first-sight or fate or any of that, Daniel spends his time with her trying to convince her otherwise. Worse yet, it’s Natasha’s last day in America before she gets deported, along with her family, back to Jamaica. This is about as much information as the summary on the back of the book will tell you. So, onto the review part…
Considering I share the same name as the female half of this duo, I was immediately interested in reading this book. However, the story itself is what kept me reading it. Natasha is nothing like me at all, with her practicality and her science-minded perspective of things, but I was compelled by her and Daniel’s relationship and where it would go.
An added incentive was the interesting side-chapters that were either informative footnotes of a sort, or of other characters that have a part, no matter how brief, in Daniel and Natasha’s day.
With that thought in mind, while I was reading this book, I was reminded of another, one of my favorite children’s books, called The Neverending Story by Michael Ende [unsurprising side-note on this: the book is better than the movie]. The storyline of Ende’s book is nothing at all similar to that of Yoon’s book, save for the way it explains there are other stories to be told outside of the one we’re focused on.
Yoon similarly does that, where one storyline crosses another, sometimes in several places, sometimes only in one place. She does so in a coherent and fluid manner, how Daniel and Natasha’s lives are connected with other lives. I found the way that Yoon brings those moments up in her book really fascinating. It can often bring the reader to reflect on their own life, which I found myself doing often.
Yoon’s tale is very much grounded in reality, and the way that our beliefs or perceptions are constantly challenged, especially by those that we allow to affect us. More specifically, in regards to the characters, we see how Daniel and Natasha allow themselves to open up to each other and be challenged, even if they’ve just met. And they do so in a way that they have not been able to do with people they’ve known much longer.
These two go on an adventure, not physically, per se, but more emotionally and mentally. At least for the reader, that’s what it feels like. At the end of the day, our mind is spent, seeing the two growing and learning more than they would realize at that moment. We would probably learn something from the experience as well, and it would affect how we think and act from here on out.
Natasha and Daniel are fictional characters, but they might as well be our neighbors, our classmates, our co-workers, or even just someone we’ve seen once in passing. The potential that two people, despite any unusual circumstances, winding up together is always possible. Nicola Yoon has shown the possibility of such a thing happening through this book, especially when love is a factor. And love always makes things possible.
Upon the subject of diversity, it is very clear that Yoon wanted the readers to know by and large that the two main characters are people of color by not skirting around the matter. As much as the book is about Daniel and Natasha’s relationship with each other, we get to see how their relationship with their respective families are, and she brings up the topic of each of their ethnicity into the fold.
Being a person of color myself, I found this refreshing and even still enlightening, especially in a contemporary novel. As readers tend to assume a person’s race usually as caucasian when it’s not mentioned outright, Yoon is unapologetically and gracefully straightforward about them not being so. Maybe this was already known by how she wrote her characters in her first book. Either way, I hope to see more of this in future books from not just her, but other authors as well, and by those who are well informed; (not coincidentally, Nicola is Jamaican and her husband is Korean – she was very well informed.)
Although it’s a contemporary romance novel, The Sun is Also a Star has a very magical quality to it, being both simplistic in its story of two young people meeting, but also intricate in the development of the relationship and the challenges that follow these two. It sticks with you well after you’ve read the last page, giving moments of humor and grief and anger, but mostly of hope and love.
My Grade: A+
The Sun is Also a Star is available in stores now, but you can order your copy here or rate the book below.