I was so in love with Nicola Yoon’s debut novel, Everything, Everything, reviewed last week, that after hearing that her most recent novel, The Sun is Also a Star was even better, I knew I needed to read it, and so I did. I gave up shopping for Lent, so instead of purchasing my own copy, I stopped by my local library, nabbed the last book, and began reading almost immediately. After devouring it in less than 24 hours, I was so fatigued, I couldn’t think straight. I was visibly exhausted and took a shower to just kind of meditate and try to reenergize. It didn’t work. Now a full week later, I’m still reeling, still processing, still reflecting. American literary great William Styron once said, “A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.” Styron must have written this after reading The Sun is Also a Star because this novel was such an incredible, unique, soul-crushing, heartbreaking, draining, and wonderful rollercoaster ride, it left me yearning for more.
I honestly don’t even know where to begin. Everything, Everything is light and fun, but The Sun is Also a Star is much, much more. The novel closely follows Natasha Kingsley, an undocumented Jamaican high school senior on a quest to stop her and her family’s deportation and Daniel Bae, a Korean-American whose dreams of being a poet are complicated by his parent’s desires for him to attend Yale and become a doctor. Unlike your stereotypical YA romance, Natasha is a girl who believes in science, statistics, data–not love or God, while Daniel is very much a romantic, honest, spiritual, and sincere soul. Their two worlds collide when they meet on the bustling streets of New York City where Daniel believes they are destined to be together. In true YA fashion, he falls in love with her instantly (ahem, suspend your disbelief) but because she doesn’t believe in love, this proves to be quite a challenge for Daniel, not to mention their different racial and cultural backgrounds. While his goal is to prove to Natasha that love does exist and that they are meant to spend the rest of their lives together, her goal is to stay in the States. Yoon does an amazing job of creating complex and very real characters in Natasha, Daniel, and their families, though I’m almost certain guys like Daniel just don’t exist because he’s pretty much perfect.
“Maybe part of falling in love with someone else is also falling in love with yourself.”
If the synopsis doesn’t exactly pique your interest, then hopefully this will: the novel is beautifully and uniquely written. Yoon’s writing is so engaging and stunning, it immediately pulls you into a different world, and the way she structures the novel is even more interesting. Each chapter is told from several viewpoints. Of course we hear directly from Natasha and Daniel and see what they experience from their perspectives, but we also get a glimpse into the life of every character Daniel and Natasha encounter and receive more information about abstract yet related concepts like eyes and the Universe, among other things. Sometimes we hear from these “side characters” directly and sometimes it’s through a third-person, omniscient narrator. While these individuals may seem like irrelevant sidenotes in the grand scheme of the novel, Yoon positions these characters to have more purpose and relevance than initially thought. For example, Natasha is almost run over by a car, but Daniel saves her (swoon). After hearing about the incident from Natasha and Daniel’s perspectives, readers learn the driver’s backstory. Yoon pays such close attention to detail and understands that we all have a story and a great impact on everyone we meet, even if we don’t see how we’re all connected.
Yoon’s attention to detail isn’t only found within the pages, but also on the book’s cover. Check out how it was intricately and gorgeously made.
While Natasha and Daniel’s unrealistic immediate romance might be a turn off for some, Yoon does a fantastic job of tackling difficult issues like immigration, deportation, and interracial dating. I think great novels make you think, they make you understand, they make you see, and they make you feel, and this one made me feel all the feelings. I laughed, I squealed, I yelled, and I cried…a lot, especially when I got to the epilogue (grab a box of tissues)! I enjoyed The Sun is Also a Star so much, and I can’t wait to purchase my own copy and read it all over again.