I had seen the gorgeous cover for The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon everywhere, but I finally picked it up when Liz from Am I Thirty recommended it on my YA books post. And what a brilliant recommendation it was! (Minor spoilers in the form of some excellent quotes.)
Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?
Natasha has lived in the USA since she was eight years old, but when her dad is caught driving under the influence, the police find out her family are undocumented immigrants. Despite having few memories of Jamaica, the country of her birth, she is to be deported. On her last day in the country, she meets Daniel.
Daniel is on his way to an interview for Yale, where his parents want him to go and study medicine. With some time to pass before the meeting, he decides to go where the day takes him. He could never have predicted what happens next.
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.
Natasha and Daniel are, on paper, polar opposites: he is a dreamer and a poet, while she believes in science and facts. He is incredibly earnest, while she is reserved. He doesn’t realise their time is short; she knows these are her last few hours in the city.
Over the course of one day they get to know each other, debating science and faith, following your dreams versus practicality, fate, coincidence, and love. We get to know them too, as the narrative switches viewpoints throughout.
I wonder if she realizes how passionate she is about not being passionate.
Natasha doesn’t say what she suspects. That meant to be doesn’t have to mean forever.
There are also chapters dotted throughout that spotlight minor characters, although, in the grand scheme of things, they aren’t quite so minor after all. These were the sections that really got to me, despite them involving characters we hardly know. That was my favourite part of this book. We can never see the ways in which all of our actions, however tiny, affect the lives of others, and this novel explores how we are all connected.
If you’re a bit cynical (like Natasha, in fact) you might not make it through this book, because it is unashamedly joyful, even in the face of a heartbreaking goodbye. Then again, perhaps it will win you over.
Personally, I adored this novel. I laughed and cried reading this, and that’s a characteristic shared by all of my favourite books. The Sun Is Also a Star is now one of them.