The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Rating: 4 stars
With the exception of The Hate U Give, I haven’t read a YA novel in a while. This one was a Book of the Month Club selection that sounded too interesting to pass up, and I’m glad I read it. It’s beautiful, touching, thought-provoking, tragic, and so much more. It could be a bit too cheesy at times, but I guess that comes with the territory when you are writing about teenagers and first loves.
Natasha is a girl who loves science and hates anything to do with romance or cheesy emotions. She also doesn’t believe in luck, hope, or fate (I understand her attitude and tend to side with Natasha on these issues). However, she is still holding out hope against long odds that she can stop her undocumented family from being deported to Jamaica after her father’s DUI. She only has 12 hours left in New York City before her family has to board a flight out of the country and hopes her appointment with an immigration lawyer can somehow stop their deportation.
Daniel is a Korean American senior with a Yale interview in New York City that afternoon. His strict immigrant parents want a better life for him and his older brother, who was recently suspended from Harvard. They pressure him to succeed, but he resents their narrow view of success and the fact that they would never support his real dream to write poetry. His worldview is the exact opposite of Natasha’s as he believes both that the universe has a plan and that love at first site is a real thing. Both of which he thinks he finds when he bumps into Natasha that morning.
This story has the great and cheesy aspects of teenage love that leave you wishing you were young enough to live that recklessly again. Before real life, jobs, and adult responsibilities get in the way of poetic descriptions and the complete faith that you will never feel the same again. I love how Yoon adds in brief chapters about secondary characters that make you realize how huge and interconnected the world can be.
It also has a great take on some of the more serious aspects of growing, like realizing your parents are just as flawed as you are. Natasha and Daniel both have to accept that their parents don’t always know the right answer and have had their owns dreams and ambitions that may not have been fulfilled. However, they still love their children and want better for them.
Natasha also faces the unfairness of immigration and her upcoming deportation. She is a teenager who loves her school and friends and should be worrying about prom instead of how to start her life over again in a country she hardly remembers. As she notes while filling out one of the endless forms, “if people who were actually born here had to prove they were worthy enough to live in America, this would be a much less populated country.”
Watching Daniel and Natasha fall in love and face these realizations is both sweet and heartbreaking. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to rediscover that magical feeling of teenage love or understand how your relationship with your family changes as you grow up and face both the beauty and harsh reality of life.