"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?" - From Goodreads
I'm going to warn you guys, this just might be one of those reviews where I try to articulate why I enjoyed/tore through a book but fail miserably at it. It is also one where I remind you that I, A of JAF, don't generally read contemporary fiction, be it Young Adult or otherwise, but I figured that the best way to fit our February Book (of the Month) Club theme of 'love' was to actually select a book about love. Especially since J selected Wuthering Heights and F selected The Mothers (you should (re)read those along with them!)
The Sun is Also a Star tells the story of Natasha, a science loving Jamaican illegal immigrant who's family is going to get deported from the United States, Daniel, the son of Korean-American who just wants to be a poet but who's parents insist should become a doctor, and, of course, the Universe, who brings them together.
In order to avoid rambling on for too long, I will briefly speak about the things I liked and disliked about the book. I love the idea of fate, even as I acknowledge that the lack of control is unsettling. I especially like the way it plays out in the novel, how tiny little circumstances set in motion the events that cause Natasha and Daniel to meet. As someone who has been getting more into alternate reality-skewed Sci-Fi, I really got into imagining all the scenarios where they didn't meet, or. alternatively, they met at different times.
I also liked the way the book was written. Natasha and Daniel's story is told from three different perspectives: Natasha's, Daniel's, and the people/things around them at certain moments (part of those significant circumstances, or ideas that help fill in background details)
I think Yoon's choice of including those side characters, allowing us to see their perspectives of the varying situations Natasha and Daniel are in, was quiet clever. Not only did it add a little meat to the story (The History of Names, for example) it also allows the reader to understand both characters, and, to a certain extent, the universe itself better. Seeing the same situations from a side character's view, the events that led THEM to this particular moment, gives you a better sense of how the people around you can, though unknowingly, affect your life, as well as bringing to attention that everyone is going through something, be it negative or positive. Everyone has their own reasons and circumstances, their own little stories. Some of these stories of the characters/events were heartbreaking, some were informative, all were important
The main characters themselves were relate-able to me, I found myself agreeing with both of them in terms to their views on love and fate at different times. Natasha was understandably skeptical, Daniel was adorably naive and hopeful. I think for the most part I sided with Natasha more, despite wanting to agree with Daniel that there was a scientific basis to love.
And that's where, I think, the weakness in the novel lies. The cynical part of me just did not quite buy into the love at first sight aspect of the book. As much as I rooted for both of them, wanted them to be together and stay together and have a happily ever after, there was this nagging part of me that just wouldn't quiet down that thought 'cute, but no.' Especially when I remembered that the whole timeline of the novel was less than a day. I can suspend my disbelief for a lot of things, faeries and vampires and viruses and time travel and colonizing other planets. I cannot do the same for two teenagers experiencing instalove and it being real or significant after knowing each other for a handful of hours. Still barely tolerate it in the case of Romeo and Juliet, and they had a couple of days at least to convince me.
Overall, if you're a romantic and want a light, well-written, heart-warming read with a diverse (literally) set of characters (especially poignant considering the current immigrant climate in the country it's set in) that makes you want to fall in love, than I recommend The Sun is Also a Star.
(Some) Memorable Quotes:
"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."
“The trouble with getting your hopes too far up is: it's a long way down.”
“We're kindling amid lightning strikes, a lit match and dry wood, fire danger signs and a forest waiting to be burned.”
“People make mistakes all the time. Small ones, like you get in the wrong checkout line. The one with the lady with a hundred coupons and a checkbook.
Sometimes you make medium-sized ones. You go to medical school instead of pursuing you passion.
Sometimes you make big ones.
You give up.”
“I didn't know you this morning, and now I don't remember not knowing you.”
“People spend their whole lives looking for love. Poems and songs and entire novels are written about it. But how can you trust something that can end as suddenly as it begins?”
“As our eyes meet, I get a kind of deja vu, but instead of feeling like I'm repeating something in the past, it feels like I'm experiencing something that will happen in my future...It's like knowing all the words to a song but still finding them beautiful and surprising.”
If anyone has read The Sun is Also a Star let us know what you think in the comments below! Comments also open to further book/movie/show recommendations, anything you’d like to see reviewed, or general feedback. We’d love to hear what you have to say!