"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 keep this review short; I'm just here to make you aware of Nicola Yoon (who also wrote Everything, Everything 💛💖) anddd, her latest book!
The Sun is Also a Star is set in one day and is about Natasha, a Jamaican teen living in the States with her family and Daniel, a Korean American. The two meet by accident - Daniel would probably say it was fate - on a day that is pretty important for the both of them. He's up for an interview for a place at Yale that he essentially doesn't want but has been coerced into by his parents. Meanwhile Natasha is seeking legal counsel after finding out her family are being deported to Jamaica. As I said, they meet my accident and due to spoilery reasons I won't go into, end up spending the day together. He believes this is the closest he's ever felt to love at first sight and tries to make her fall in love with him and shes a naysayer who doesn't believe in love. It's very conversation heavy basically because Nicola Yoon gives them a day o seriously get to know each other and, for us to get to know them and care about them. But it's not as stale as it sounds! There are so many other themes intertwined into this story and the fabric of their conversations: family, science, history, identity, betrayal and race. I still can't believe everything that happens, happens in a day because she manages to give each theme enough space and impact while delivering this really raw, real, 3 dimensional, slow burning romance. Oh and did I mention? All set in a day.
The dialogue. It was just so rich and smart and complex yet subtle and reflective and at times funny, at times heavy going, all at once! It was all of these things!
Natasha and Daniel are these really well drawn, flawed and fully human characters and I think even if you don't "like" them, you'll be routing for them till the very last page. I also really appreciated Nicola Yoon's handling of race and how the way others see us, can affect our own sense of personal identity. It was never the agenda of the story either, it's just deftly woven into their respective stories - in the same way their reflections and experiences and the way they see the world would be, were they real life teenagers of colour. There's a lot of show, not tell which takes craft.
As I'm sure it's pretty clear from this post, I was also in awe of Nicola Yoon's writing. So, I'm going to leave you with some of my favourite quotes from the book but ya know, totes read the book yourself too.
"Maybe part of falling in love with someone else is also falling in love with yourself.”
“Growing up and seeing your parents' flaws is like losing your religion. I don't believe in God anymore. I don't believe in my father either.”
“We're kindling amid lightning strikes, a lit match and dry wood, fire danger signs and a forest waiting to be burned.”
"I think all the good parts of us are connected on some level. The part that shares the last double chocolate chip cookie or donates to charity or gives a dollar to a street musician or becomes a candy striper or cries at Apple commercials or says I love you or I forgive you. I think that's God. God is the connection of the very best parts of us.”
“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.”
“love is just chemicals and coincidence.”
“For most immigrants, moving to the new country is an act of faith. Even if you've heard stories of safety, opportunity, and prosperity, it's still a leap to remove yourself from your own language, people, and country. Your own history. What if the stories weren't true? What if you couldn't adapt? What if you weren't wanted in the new country?”
“I am really not a girl to fall in love with. For one thing, I don’t like temporary, nonprovable things, and romantic love is both temporary and nonprovable.”
“I guess I'm more interested in why people feel they have to believe in God. Why can't it just be science? Science is wondrous. The night sky? Amazing. The inside of a human cell? Incredible. Something that tells us we're born bad and that people use to justify all their petty prejudices and awfulness? I dunno. I guess I believe in science. Science is enough.”