Overall Rating: 95%
|Funny?||Definitely has its moments.|
|Moving?||I cried multiple times.|
“There’s a Japanese phrase that I like: koi no yokan. It doesn’t mean love at first sight. It’s closer to love at second sight. It’s the feeling when you meet someone that you’re going to fall in love with them. Maybe you don’t love them right away, but it’s inevitable that you will. I’m pretty sure that’s what I’m experiencing right now” (Yoon 79).
Nicola Yoon’s The Sun Is Also a Star is fairly conscious of the fact that it follows an “instalove”-esque narrative, but the novel’s self-awareness makes the story a much more unique read. Exploring topics like love, destiny, immigration, and family, the novel follows protagonists Daniel and Natasha as their paths cross on an especially fateful day.
The child of Korean immigrants, Daniel is on his way to a college admission interview with a Yale alumnus when he meets Natasha, an undocumented immigrant who’s headed to meet a lawyer who may be able to stop her deportation to Jamaica. The two find themselves in each other’s company in the interim before their respective appointments, and upon discovering that Natasha places more faith in facts and science than in love or fate, Daniel sets out to prove to her that he can get her to fall in love with him scientifically in what time they have together.
Because the protagonists are aware that they’re essentially testing the idea of “instalove,” the novel refreshingly explores whether or not it’s actually possible for two people to fall in love so fast without becoming too unrealistic. The novel challenges readers to consider the difference between fate and coincidence as well as the possibility that some loves may indeed be “inevitable.”
Both Natasha and Daniel are extremely charming, well-written characters with quirks that make their respective POV (point-of-view) chapters really distinctive and enjoyable to read.
More literary-minded, Daniel often reflects on his life by creating headlines— “Area Boy Attempts to Use Science to Get the Girl” (Yoon 84), begins one of his chapters, while Natasha’s chapters often include “observable facts” indicative of her own more practical personality.
Making the story even more unique are the brief histories of minor characters and explanations of concepts like “half-life” and “multiverse” that are interspersed throughout the novel. These seeming digressions really enriched the narrative and helped illustrate, among other things, the point that even seemingly minor characters have their own stories that once revealed make them just as real as the protagonists.
Although The Sun Is Also a Star explores concepts of love and fate, the novel doesn’t shy away from discussing heavier topics like internalized racism—including much commentary on issues surrounding immigration and deportation. Particularly memorable was Natasha’s observation that “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” (Yoon 110).
Furthermore, while I cannot speak for others, as the child of immigrants, I found that the novel’s portrayal of immigrants’ experiences and attitudes was extremely authentic and relatable. Many of the sentiments expressed really rang true to me, reflecting opinions that I’ve encountered in real life. It’s clear that the author did a lot of research so that she could accurately depict such a realistic portrayal.
I highly recommend Nicola Yoon’s The Sun Is Also a Star. Because the novel does explore notions of love and fate, those who cannot suspend their disbelief about such ideas may find the story more difficult to enjoy, but I think the story’s balanced consideration of light and heavy topics, charming characters, and unique narrative structure will appeal to everyone.
By: Celina Sun
Yoon, Nicola. The Sun Is Also a Star. EPUB ed., Random House Children’s Books, 2016.