Author: Nicola Yoon
Also by this author: Everything, Everything, Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet.
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: November 1st 2016
Source: Finished copy from Penguin Random House Canada (thank you!)
A 2016 National Book Award Finalist
The New York Times Bestseller!
The dazzling new novel from Nicola Yoon, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything, will have you falling in love with Natasha and Daniel as they fall in love with each other!
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?
Review: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
I don’t usually like insta-love books. I don’t normally like books where characters meet and immediately know that they are going to be together forever. Hopeless romanticism often frustrates me.
But look, if you’re going to write an insta-love book, then it should damn well be written like The Sun is Also a Star.
It should have layered, complex characters with crystallized beliefs who banter super well. Characters who are influenced by more than just each other, and who, in one extraordinary day, share their vulnerabilities and their strengths. Good and bad moments, where the bad is just as real and heart-crushing as the good, so that the good moments are all that more special.
I’m babbling. But honestly, this book got me.
It centers around Natasha, a Jamaican-American teen who loves grunge rock and science, who is being deported that day because she’s an undocumented immigrant. But on her last day, she miraculously and coincidentally encounters with Daniel, a Korean-American teen with a poetic heart and too many family obligations. The two embark on a wondrous, frustrating, and yes, swoony journey through Manhattan. The dichotomy of their worldviews – science vs. poetry, fact vs. feeling – is one that’s been explored in a lot of books I’ve read, but never as diversely and as carefully as this.
And then author Nicola Yoon takes it up one more level. The best part of The Sun is Also a Star is that it’s not just about the Natasha and Daniel meeting. It’s about almost everyone they encounter that day – from the security gate checker at the citizenship office who sees Natasha’s Nirvana phone case, to Natasha and Daniel’s family.
In short chapters between those of Natasha and Daniel, Yoon encapsulates the thoughts and feelings of passing characters, showing how much we all live our lives like we are the sun, planets revolving around us. But rather than see this as narcissism, The Sun is Also a Star celebrates the fact that we are all suns. And further, we are all stars, deeply interconnected by the spaces and encounters between us, but also the centre of our own lives.
It’s a beautiful, romantic way of looking at the world, bringing wonder and fate and logic into play. It’s also almost impossible to get right without falling into cheap sentimentality. But Yoon rises to the occasion, balancing love with logic, banter with swoons.
This is going to be on a lot of best-of lists this year, and I can understand why. For me, it was maybe just a little too twee, a little too unbelievable. The ending went past cute into Disney territory for me, so it’s not on my best-of list, but make no mistake: The Sun is Also a Star is a really good book.
Real Family: Holy cow. The complexity of the family relationships in this book is so amazing, eliciting feelings of frustration, dismay, acceptance, understanding…all I have to say is, this is Gilmore Girls levels of family issues, guys.
Diversity: THIS is how you write a diverse book. By acknowledging the histories and cultures of characters, having them matter – but also having them recognize how much they don’t matter where love is concerned.
The Science of Love: Anyone who has read Mandy Len Catron’s viral essay “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This” published in the New York Times last year has probably also tried psychologist Dr. Arthur Aron’s 36 questions that lead to love. The questions are an anchor to Natasha and Daniel’s relationship in this book, and I LOVED how Yoon used this study through the book.
I Want to Go to There: Oh New York, how I loved and missed you throughout this book! I feel like Natasha and Daniel traverse the entirety of Manhattan four times during this book, which seems impossible, but man, I loved seeing them in midtown, in Harlem, all over New York. It so made me want to go track down some of these places (definitely the norebang ).
Book Theme Song:
Lucky immediately popped into my head while reading this book. Natasha would probably be pissed at me for choosing something so cheesy, but I think Daniel would love it. It’s just so cute, and the alternating between singers works for this book. Also, the thing about oceans and islands? Totally works for the deportation that’s hanging over their heads.
Do you hear me,
I’m talking to you
Across the water across the deep blue ocean
Under the open sky, oh my, baby I’m trying
Boy I hear you in my dreams
I feel your whisper across the sea
I keep you with me in my heart
You make it easier when life gets hard
I’m lucky I’m in love with my best friend
Lucky to have been where I have been
Lucky to be coming home again
They don’t know how long it takes
Waiting for a love like this
Every time we say goodbye
I wish we had one more kiss
I’ll wait for you I promise you, I will
And so I’m sailing through the sea
To an island where we’ll meet
You’ll hear the music fill the air
I’ll put a flower in your hair
Though the breezes through the trees
Move so pretty you’re all I see
As the world keeps spinning round
You hold me right here right now
The Final Word:
Brilliant, unabashedly romantic, and full of human connection and wisdom, The Sun is Also a Star is a triumph of Big Themes. From Where Do I Belong and Does What I Do Matter, to Is Love Real and Are We Meant to Be, Nicola Yoon tackles it all with a precision of worldview, and direct, honest, lovely writing. A guaranteed winner for teens who dream, and probably for a lot of adults, too.
Highly recommended for hopeless romantics, people who love the Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight trilogy, and anyone who needs a really cute, really wonderful diverse read.
THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR is out in bookstores now. Have you read this diverse YA contemporary? Are you adding it to your holiday wishlist? Have you read Nicola Yoon’s other novel, Everything, Everything? Are you into super romantic books? Let me know in the comments!