Published: November 1st, 2016 by Delacorte Press | Series: N/A | Length: 348 pages | Genre: YA, contemporary, romance | Source: I received a free copy from Blogging for Books. | Possible Triggers: Deportation, racism, DUI, use of “crazy,” suicidality
Summary from 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?
I’m going to start this review off with a warning: if you can’t stand insta-love, you might not want to read this book. Although the romance was, at least in my opinion, really cute, the whole book takes place over one day. This means that, yes, Natasha and Daniel fall ~in love~ in one day. I don’t even usually mind insta-love that much, but even for me, this seemed like a bit much.
Aside from the insta-love issue, the only other thing that I didn’t like was Yoon’s use of words like “crazy” in a negative way. It happened quite a few times throughout the book, especially towards the end. I find this is a pretty common issue in books, but it’s one that I like to point out in reviews since there are readers who could be upset by this.
Other than these two problems, this book was absolutely fantastic. The Sun Is Also a Star manages to be and do so many things at once and Nicola Yoon pulled it off perfectly.
The first thing that I noticed and loved is how important issues like immigration, deportation, and racism are handled in this book. Natasha is an immigrant from Jamaica who has been living in the US since she was 8 but is being deported. Daniel is a first-generation Korean American, struggling with trying to meet his parents’ expectations but also make himself happy. Through their POVs, we get to see them grapple with these (and other) issues. One thing that I really, really liked about the way these issues were incorporated was that we see that not everyone responds to these situations in the same way. For example, Daniel is very proud to be Korean – he speaks Korean with his parents, loves to eat Korean food, etc. His older brother, Charlie, though absolutely hates being Korean and does everything he can to assimilate into “American” culture – he tells his family he doesn’t know how to speak Korean, he hates Korean food – and he resents Daniel for not rejecting Korean culture the way he does. I really liked this because, like I said, it shows that there are different ways to be an immigrant/first-generation American and that these groups are not a monolith.
The other big thing that I absolutely adored about this book was that we get short POV “chapters” (they’re usually only a page or two) from random people that Daniel and Natasha come across throughout the day. These small POVs give you some insight into their lives. We get to learn a little bit about the waitress that serves them at a restaurant, a guy who almost ran Natasha over, her immigration lawyer, etc. I loved this because it allows the reader to see that these characters may seem like jerks to Natasha or Daniel, but they have their own story, too. It brings a little depth to even the unimportant characters. There were also small chapters explaining some concepts or ideas that are brought up briefly in the book. Daniel’s parents own a Black hair care store, so we get a short chapter explaining the history of African American hair. Natasha brings up multiverse theory in a conversation with Daniel, so we get a short chapter explaining multiverse theory. I absolutely loved these chapters. They’re short so it doesn’t take away from the main story, but they add a little something extra. Yoon did a fantastic job of incorporating these chapters into the story, making them interesting but also not allowing them to feel pointless or like they’re distracting from the main plot.
Finally, although the romance was very insta-lovey, it was still ridiculously cute. Daniel is a dreamer (despite the blurb saying otherwise) and Natasha is not. At all. But over the course of the day, Daniel’s poetic ways of thinking rub off on Natasha and she starts to think that maybe things like fate and true love exist. I loved seeing her gradually become more and more of a believer. And even though it felt way too fast, I loved seeing Daniel and Natasha fall in love. What can I say? It was cute even if it wasn’t realistic.
The Sun Is Also a Star was an absolutely phenomenal book that manages to be not only a cute (albeit unrealistic) love story but also a story about a number of tough topics like immigration and racism. This was such a great story and I’m looking forward to seeing what Nicola Yoon writes next.