Book Review: The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Posted January 18, 2017 by Renae // 1 Comment

Book Review: The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Title: The Sun Is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte BFYR
Rating:

Summary from Goodreads:

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?

It’s a rare thing to reach the final page of a book and simply think: “This is perfect.” Neither is it typical that every single scene of a book is exactly what the story needs, every line of dialogue perfectly attuned to the mood and personality of the speaking character, and ever image perfectly aligned to add to the text’s overall message. More, it’s unusual that a book gives me, the reader, everything I want. If there’s a checklist of everything I love about fiction, The Sun Is Also a Star crosses off every item. Going even further, this book has something more, an undefinable element that a combination of timing and personality and a dozen personal things that all ad up to mean that this story stood so far out from others that it’s at a level all its own.

For me, The Sun Is Also a Star is a book about an impossible love that dares to be possible. Natasha and her family are being deported in less than 24 hours, and as she goes about her last day in New York, a strange chain of events (coincidence? fate?) leads her to meet Daniel. And over the course of this one eventful day, Daniel and Natasha fall in love—a love that seems doomed before declarations are ever made, before the two of them even understand their feelings. But the question Nicola Yoon asks readers is: even if it’s not forever, even if it’s just for a day, doesn’t love still change everything?

The entirety of this book asks difficult questions about abstract subjects, and there are no answers to most of them. Do Natasha and Daniel meet by coincidence, or is it fate? Are there multiple universes, or just one? If just one, who’s in charge? Is there a god? Is love nothing more than chemical reactions in the brain? If love does exist, can it last? Does any of this even matter? Through the various characters and situations in the book, each of these gets asked and pondered. Predictably, Natasha the fact-oriented, logical scientist tackles these issues much differently than Daniel the poet. The two of them have different viewpoints on almost everything, but rather than cause conflict, these differences complement each other in a way that is meaningful and authentic.

I think The Sun Is Also a Star works so well because of its characterization, which is brilliant at every level. Not only do Natasha and Daniel’s personalities contrast beautifully, Yoon has also dug deep into these characters and who they are. The plot itself might be over and done with in less than 24 hours’ time, but I finished the book feeling that I knew these people completely, and also that they knew each other. That’s hard to accomplish, requiring a lot of talent, and I think the author managed it in large part because of the distinctly unique and honest first person narration that comes from both main characters’ perspectives. Not often while reading a book do I feel that I have a strong sense of who a character is, just from their voice; even less often do I feel that a character is sitting in the room with me, telling their story out loud and in person. And that is exactly how The Sun Is Also a Star was for me.

And, of course, there was the ending. I legitimately read books almost entirely for conclusions like the one Nicola Yoon wrote here. It was bittersweet, acknowledging realism even amidst a fairytale romance, giving hope even while it faced facts. Because sometimes you fall in love and shit happens, and it doesn’t work out for one reason or another. Life is hard and messy and confusing, and I love books that acknowledge it.

(Also that epilogue was the greatest thing ever. Somebody make this book into a goddamned movie. LORD. I smiled so hard my face hurt.)

The Sun Is Also a Star really did everything right, and then some. Nicola Yoon perfectly balanced genuine characters, charming prose, and the mixture of fairytale love and realism, creating a story that made me, literally, jump out of my chair in satisfaction after reading “The End.” This book is perfect.

Renae has written book reviews and other miscellany for Respiring Thoughts since 2012. She loves dogs, Mexican food, mountains, Shakespeare, and procrastinating. She's currently working on an undergrad degree in English/Spanish lit in the Midwest. Connect with Renae on Twitter, Goodreads, and Tumblr.

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