Title: The Sun Is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: November 1st 2016
Nicola Yoon continues to impress with her sophomore novel The Sun Is Also a Star. Set in New York, Yoon’s story is about the how even the simplest of meetings can have a powerful effect. A chance encounter between Natasha and Daniel has the potential to blossom into something lasting, but their lives are pulling them in different directions and not every love story is smooth sailing. It bears mentioning that aside from the two main characters’ perspectives, Yoon incorporates little extras into her novel from minor character’s self-reflections to explorations of concepts and even a little history thrown in. I really liked that the story shows that even the most mundane interactions with strangers can have a domino effect.
Natasha is sure she has her life figured out, but one mistake turns her world upside down. Her family is on the verge of being deported back to Jamaica and while the practical side of her believes there is little hope, she can’t help but try anything to stop the inevitable. Though born in Jamaica, America has been Natasha’s home for almost ten years, most of her memories are of here, all the things she wants out of life take place here. Yoon tackles a lot of issues immigrant families deal with and for Natasha’s family, the main conflict has centered around her father. For many immigrants, the promise of the American Dream is enough to leave their country behind, but not every immigrant story is a successful one. Natasha struggles to find a common interest with her father who is chasing a dream that no longer seems plausible. Resentment and regret play a huge part in their relationship, much of how Natasha sees the world is shaped by how she sees her father’s need to succeed in a country where not everyone’s dreams come true.
Daniel’s personality immediately jumps off the pages. In the first two pages that feature his point of view, we learn that Daniel is snarky, his comedic timing is on point and he has legitimate issues with his older brother. As a first generation American, Daniel straddles that fence between being South Korean and American. There is a generational gap for many immigrant families and this is even more apparent in Daniel’s brother, Charlie, who according to Daniel tries his best to erase any trace of his South Korean heritage in an effort to fit in. Daniel’s parents have struggled with the transition from South Korea to America, while trying to teach their sons to honor their homeland, but also having to face the fact that their children also belong to America.
Insta-love is a trope that rarely works for me. I tend to consider love to be a process and not just an instant occurrence. The Sun Is Also a Star takes place over the course of one day and while this would normally have me feeling really skeptical, Yoon finds a way to sell this love story to me. I don’t think I’d even consider the story to be a case of insta-love because of the amount of time Yoon devotes to developing the relationship between the two leads. Where Natasha is cynical, Daniel is a dreamer, and their differences are what make their interactions so fun to read about. They approach the subject of love in different ways, where one sees coincidence, the other sees the hand of fate. The Sun Is Also a Star is many things at once: it is delightful and bittersweet, honest and optimistic, earth-shattering and realistic, but through it all, it is beautiful.