I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Also by this author: Everything, Everything
Published by Delacorte Press on November 1st 2016
Pages: 384 •Goodreads
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?
Nicola Yoon’s writing contains a grace that I haven’t ever seen another author capture in quite the same way. She takes difficult, heavy, and at times overwhelming topics and manages to have her prose dance through them, keeping her characters challenged by not bogged down by them. Everything, Everything was a beautiful story of trust, deceit, illness, and physical and mental strength, and Yoon’s sophomore novel build upon its the expectations set by its predecessor with an even stronger delivery.
First and foremost, the thing I adored above all else in The Sun is Also a Star was the narrative style. Told in short chapters that bounce between different characters’ points of view, it helped capture the tone of the plot, which centered around the ideas of chance and fate. Daniel and Natasha keep meeting randomly around New York City on one of the most important days that will determine their futures, yet the chapters sometimes deviate from their point of views, focusing on seemingly irrelevant details or characters (such as a chapter on the backstory of a supposedly minor side character, but it’s later on revealed that a small action made by them has a huge impact on the course of Natasha and Daniel’s futures). There are also chapters that almost break away from the main story and explain the origins of concepts such as love or fate. I loved seeing butterfly effect in these seemingly inconsequential chapters, and it helped to make me feel consumed by the insular world of the story, which takes place across the span of one very, very long and important day.
Like in Everything, Everything, Yoon manages to integrate racial diversity into her novel in a way that is meaningful without overwhelming the overall story. Natasha is a Jamaican immigrant who came to America as a young girl, and Daniel is Korean-American who was born in New York and has lived in America his whole life. The novel explores the very real tensions that these diverse cultural backgrounds bring to their relationship, especially due to the biases and ideals held by their families, as well as the differing opinions they have of their identities as Americans. As someone who is biracial (white/Latina) and who is dating someone biracial (white/Asian) I can definitely appreciate the way that differing cultures bleed into relationships and how family values and expectations can still be very, very influenced by one’s culture.
I also have to applaud Yoon for featuring the concept of instalove in a way that didn’t make me want to tear my hair out. The narrative does a great job laying a foundation of how instalove can be possible through it’s exploration of concepts such as science and fate, and the faith and reservations both Daniel (a total idealistic, dreamer, and romantic) and Natasha (practical, cynical, and aspiring scientist). While instalove still isn’t a preferred trope of mine, I appreciated how it worked with the themes in this novel (and I loved the list of questions they asked each other all day that was supposedly meant to bring them closer).
Overall: The Sun is Also a Star is a book with beautiful prose, a compelling story telling method, and just a hint of magic through its focus on fate, love, and the wider workings of the universe.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Goodreads Challenge 2016