This is one of those novels that you badly want to review because you have a lot of good things to say about it but you don’t know how to begin praising it. This is one of those relevant novels that you know will become a classic and you want everyone to read but you’re not sure how to put your excitement into words. This is one of those novels that even just after a few pages in, you already know that it will be on your top reads of the year.
So where will I begin. I guess I have to start with the fact that I haven’t read Nicola Yoon’s debut novel Everything, Everything yet so going into this book, I don’t have any idea about the way she writes or how she structures her story. I have an inkling about what the story is all about and I know that Everything, Everything is being adapted into a movie which even more intrigued me with the book. The people that I know who have already read the book are all praises with it too. So it’s little bit hyped and that’s the reason why even if I have a copy of the book, I kept on pushing it in down my TBR pile (because we all know what’s with overly hyped up book sometimes). And so when an opportunity came and I was given the chance to review Nicola Yoon’s new book, The Sun is also a Star, I grabbed it. I took the chance because I thought I might start with it, a book that is still to come out (which comes with lesser expectations), use it as a gauge, then just go and read Everything, Everything if I’ll enjoy it. And man, the hype with Nicola Yoon is real.
“I didn’t know you this morning, and now I don’t remember not knowing you.”
― Nicola Yoon, The Sun Is Also a Star
The book starts with Natasha and her family 12 hours away from being deported back to Jamaica. But she’s making an appeal. She’s heading to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) wanting to make a plea to hopefully convince them to cancel their deportation case. She believes that the whole family shouldn’t all be paying for a reckless act caused by her father which lead to the authorities eventually finding out that they are illegal immigrants. The idea of starting up again, making new friends and adjusting to a place different from what she’s used to terrifies her. Natasha and her family have been living in New York for the past ten years and being deported back to a place that she vaguely remembers is something that she doesn’t want to consider. She’s afraid that she’ll loose the future that she’s starting to build.
Then there’s Daniel Jae Ho Bae, who was born to an immigrant family from Korea. He’s a dreamer who loves to write poems, poems involving love and heartbreaks. His family always pressures him about what he wants to do with his future that’s why he prefers staying out. His family’s dreams for him contradicts with what he really wants in life. His parents wants him to attend Yale, be like his brother, be a doctor and marry a Korean girl.
Call it fate or chance, Daniel and Natasha’s path crossed one fine day in New York. Natasha on her way to the USCIS and Daniel on his way for an interview to get into Yale. The book then follows the two characters, over the course of a day, as they travel to different places in New York. Daniel, who’ve fallen in love at first sight with Natasha, successfully convinced her to spend more time with him to prove to her that love exists and that he can make her fall in love with him. But Natasha, the ever practical, became this hard shell to break but decided to play along. As cultures and traditions clash, with logic and science over heart and emotions crossing, and complications brought by their uncertain futures, will destiny work in Natasha and Daniel’s favor?
The book is told from the point of views of the two main characters. Readers are introduced to them as they meet with both being at a major turning point in their lives. Natasha on the brink of being deported and Daniel who is to make a decision that will determine his future. Onset of the story, readers will already know how the two characters have opposite personalities. Natasha is this logical girl who uses science in all she believes in. She doubts love and doesn’t believe in destiny. Daniel is this passionate boy who’s a true believer of romance. The book made the two main characters very appealing, contrasting but charming.
In between the main story line, the author also ingeniously added chapters about minor characters, some certain words and scientific and cultural concepts. Those interludes follow after Daniel and Natasha encounters them in the story. I like how it gave an added flavor to the story. I have to also commend the author for having all her characters in this book unique and real. They were created to be like puzzle pieces that when joined you have this beautiful piece of art perfectly blended together. I like how I also get to know the side characters, their history and why they act that way in the story. Their parts were told through their point of views and I find it very clever how the author did that to see the events in the book from a different perspective. It explained how fate worked and how the stories of the side characters crisscrossed with Daniel and Natasha allowing the two to meet.
The book’s story only spans one day but the author was very successful in crafting a convincing story. The writing is so immersing that you’ll find it hard to believe that it all just happened in one day. The story flows perfectly and not at all dragging. The author structured the book in a way that she’ll slowly build up the momentum but you won’t notice it because she’s got you hooked. From well-written dialogues, notable lines and quotes to quips here and there, she writes in a very detailed and poetic way that really made me have that connection to the book.
“No one can put a price on losing everything.”
― Nicola Yoon, The Sun Is Also a Star
It might appear that this book is only about a love story between two teenagers but there’s more to this book. I like the way how the author discussed heavy topics such as racism, deportation and cultural difference in a very insightful way. It was not done in a preachy way but you’ll still be able to learn new things as it offered a glimpse of both Korean and Jamaican cultures. I like the diversity that this book promotes. I like how the main characters are people of color. The author made use of their differences in heritage to make the story complex which for me is something new as it is something that I rarely see or hear from young adult books. I have to commend the author because this book offered cultural diversity in its story, the reason why I consider this book as an important read.
I like how the book talks about how life is just basically about the opportunities that come and the decisions that we make. The things that we do affects other people without us noticing it. We are like connected by threads and an action of one affects everyone as can be reflected by the cover of this book. The book also talks about the fact that acceptance is the key to enjoying life as destiny has its own way of playing with us. We may not always want the result of everything that happens but that’s part of life.
And yes, the ending. I felt it. Bittersweet but hopeful. Touching. Perfect ending for a must read book. I’ll definitely be reading Everything, Everything soon.
5 stars out of 5.
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?
Author: Nicola Yoon
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Number of Pages: 344 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
About the Author
Nicola Yoon grew up in Jamaica (the island) and Brooklyn (part of Long Island). She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and daughter, both of whom she loves beyond all reason. Everything, Everything is her first novel.
Note: Thank you to JM of Book Freak Revelations for hosting the blog tour and to Penguin Random House for providing the review copy in exchange for a honest and unbiased review. In no way was my opinion about the book influenced by someone else.
The tour runs from November 1-5, 2016. Be sure to check out the rest of the gang and their thoughts about the book:
November 2, 2016
Jayvee from Writer for Misfits
JM is also having a giveaway on his blog. Go check it out and join for a chance to win 1 of 2 packaged ARCs of The Sun Is Also A Star and a gorgeous print art of the amazing cover. Click here to join.