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?
This review contains spoilers.
I really wanted to fall in love with this The Sun Is Also a Star. After the disappointing conclusion of Everything, Everything, I hoped that Nicola Yoon’s second novel would be better, but it was really the opposite of her first book. I appreciated the ending, but leading up to it was difficult to push through.
Natasha and Daniel are complete opposites–a girl who believes only in science and a boy who aspires to be a poet–but they meet by chance one day and decide that they are meant to fall in love. This same day just happens to be the day that Natasha’s family is getting deported and Daniel has an interview with Yale that could determine what path his future takes.
Hearing about a Young Adult novel with a main character on the verge of deportation was really what got me to read this. I was excited to read a story about a character going through something I had very little knowledge of but affects so many people in this country. What I hadn’t realized was that the love story would be the most prominent part of the plot. After all, it is a Young Adult novel, and I’m not sure many people understand the option of a story about teenagers where romance isn’t the main aspect. Or maybe this was Yoon’s intention to get more people to read a story about this issue.
Honestly, this was the most Instalove™ story I’ve ever read. Aside from the epilogue, the novel takes place all in one single day. Daniel challenges Natasha’s view of love being nothing more than chemical reactions and bets that he can make her fall in love with him by the end of the day. The problem with this is that even though they Googled questions from the 36 Questions That Lead To Love and learned quite a bit of the deep stuff about each other, you can’t know a person in one day. You can’t learn everything about them or really even enough to know if you love them. This is lust.
I did appreciate the diversity of the main characters. Natasha’s family is from Jamaica, and Daniel’s parents moved to the US from Korea. Daniel struggles with his identity because his parents expect him to be fully Korean, but he was born in the States and America is still a big part of his identity. Natasha and her mother moved to NYC when she was eight and she remembers very little about her home country. The histories and mixed cultures of these families were so interesting to read about and something that we really need to see more of in YA books.
Another thing that bothered me was how the novel was routinely interrupted by a couple pages of random accounts of minor characters and infodumps on topics that were mentioned in the chapter prior to it. These were added to give the story a sense how coincidences happen and how everyone is connected somehow, and they served their purpose, I just wasn’t interested. About a third of the way into the novel, I started skimming these and if it seemed unimportant, I skipped it. I can really only remember one of them being important to the plot. Maybe these additions would seem cool to others.
I really did like the ending and think it wrapped up in one of the best ways. Natasha and Daniel don’t live happily ever after. Natasha’s family is forced to move back to Jamaica, and Daniel makes a life of his own back in the States. However, in the epilogue, they meet again on an airplane and it cuts off as they recognize each other, letting the reader decide if they reconcile or if their lives are still too different to be together.
Final Thought: I’m very torn about this book. There were parts I really enjoyed and parts I really did not, so I’ll go right down the middle and give it 3 stars. If you enjoy YA romance, I recommend The Sun Is Also a Star for you. If you prefer YA in which the romance isn’t the main plot, look for something else.