Natasha believes in science and facts. She doesn’t believe in destiny, fate or unrealistic dreams. Which is why she chooses not to fall in love with the cute boy she meets 12 hours before her entire family is deported back to Jamaica.
Daniel, on the other hand, is a closet poet, a dreamer. He’s always been the good son and good student, living up to his parents’ high expectations. Yet his first look at Natasha brings out the dreamer inside him, the one who believes in fate and destiny and love.
This is the premise for Nicola Yoon’s second young adult fiction novel, The Sun Is Also A Star.
In her first novel, Everything, Everything (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2015), Yoon skillfully utilised an addictive and unique writing style that kept pages turning. She’s done it again with The Sun Is Also A Star, creating beautiful and elegant phrases that are fast becoming her trademark. Her flair with words evoke any and all emotions in the reader.
Aside from her writing style, Yoon is also becoming an author to watch out for simply because of the diversity of her characters and her portrayal of cultures. Natasha is Jamaican and Daniel is Korean-American, and both of them come from vastly different cultures. Yoon has obviously done a lot of research into Korean culture as well as the history of Koreans in the United States. Her homage to Jamaica may be slightly less in-depth, but what she does include has an insightful tone to it. It says something about an author’s skill that she can so skillfully capture and frame cultures that readers become more curious.
While Yoon’s writing style and diversity are selling points for this novel, the characters are not as developed as they could have been. Natasha especially felt a little one-dimensional to me and not the most likable, which made it quite difficult to empathise with what she was going through.
Daniel, on the other hand, was the character that jumped off the pages. Here is a boy who meets a girl and falls in love, and does everything he can to be with her. His reactions to Natasha and his hopeless infatuation with her is what stands out the most.
While told predominantly from Daniel and Natasha’s points of view, Yoon also included several POVs of minor characters. While it’s a nice break from switching between Natasha and Daniel’s views and gives the reader a peek into the lives of the others, it’s not central to the novel and to Natasha’s and Daniel’s relationship.
Instead, it detracts from the story and makes it a little messier than I would like. The end result of this is that I found it difficult to invest heavily in what happens to Natasha and Daniel.
The Sun Is Also A Star is, overall, an enjoyable read, tackling serious issues such as immigration, diaspora, diversity and holding on to hope even when everything around you is falling apart.
While there are areas of the book that didn’t hold my interest, if you’re in the mood for romance and hope, it’s a pretty safe bet you’ll enjoy it.