Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Bookish Thoughts: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Carl Sagan said that if you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe. ~ Opening of The Sun Is Also a Star


The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Delacorte Press, 2016
Fiction (YA); 384 pgs
Source: I purchased this book via My LitBox Subscription.

Fellow readers, I am so enamored with this book. Eleanor and Park, move over. There's a new young couple in my heart.

Natasha is all about the science and facts. Forget love and fate. She's long ago given up on the idea that dreams can come true. Especially since her family is facing deportation to Jamaica, their undocumented status having been found out. Daniel, a first generation Korean American, on the other hand, is at heart a poet; only, his parents' expectations and plans for him don't figure that piece in.

I loved this book for so many reasons. There is the romantic story of two young people meeting by chance, feeling an instant spark and falling in love. While not a big believer in love at first sight, I had no trouble buying into Daniel's immediate crush on Natasha or her falling for him over the course of one single day. Maybe it was because of their ages or the circumstance. I'm not sure. All I know is I was rooting for them and hoping against hope they would get their happy ending.

Then there is Natasha's story. She barely remembers her home country of Jamaica, having spent much of her life in the United States. She has friends, a college plan, and roots here in the U.S. The last thing she wants to do is move to a country she no longer knows and where she knows absolutely no one. Her family came to the U.S. for the American dream, or rather her father did, and it soon became her entire family's dream as well. Life has not been easy, however. They are poor, barely making it, and, as her family learned the hard way, dreams do not always become reality. Natasha makes one last effort to save her family from deportation.

Beyond Natasha, is the story of her family and their struggles. The strain on her parents' marriage, the relationship between daughter and father, as her father dreams and falters. There comes a time in every child's life when the child, dreamy-eyed and in total love of their parents, suddenly sees the truth of their parents, their warts and all. In this case, it was from idol to disappointment. Natasha holds a lot of anger and frustration towards her father, a man she once idolized and now does not believe in. He is the reason she no longer believes in dreams, but in practicality. I could not help but think of my own relationship with my dad as I read Natasha's story. It is different in so many ways and yet also similar in others, and I found myself examining the shift in his and my relationship as I grew from child to teenager to adult. And I could relate to not only Natasha, but also both her mother and father.

Most of my friends growing up were Asian-American, and some of the earmarks of Daniel's story I could see in my friends' lives. Daniel's parents have learned lessons from their past, leaving behind  their life in Korea to make a new one in the United States. They hope to save their sons from making the same or similar mistakes that they once made. Daniel's parents want what is best for the two young men. But Daniel, who was born and raised in America, struggles with the dual cultures--a Korean culture that values and respects family and parental influence in one's life and that of the American that values independence. Daniel is a good son, wanting to please his parents, but at the same time, he wants to follow a path which he sets for himself.

Natasha and Daniel are two very different people with different philosophies about life. I admit to identifying more with Natasha, but I also saw bits of myself (and my husband) in Daniel. I felt the two complimented each other well.

There budding relationship isn't without its issues. Natasha doesn't want to fall for Daniel with her deportation pending. Not to mention, she's skeptical about the idea of falling in love, much less so quickly as Daniel purports is possible. Then there is the fact that Daniel's family is very much opposed to the interracial relationship.

Nicola Yoon's writing style drew me in immediately. I appreciated the way Yoon told Natasha and Daniel's story. I liked the shifts in perspective, including the side stories of some of the minor characters. It was a good reminder of how our actions or inactions, however big or small, something so simple as a smile or a thank you--or lack thereof--can impact another's day. Our actions have consequences, whether good or bad, intended or not. We are all connected in some way.

There is so much to this book, and so much I got out of it. I am not sure my words have done it justice. I highly recommend The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. It left tears in my eyes--both happy and sad. It made me smile. And it is well worth reading. Go on. Right now, please.

“I think all the good parts of us are connected on some level. The part that shares the last double chocolate chip cookie or donates to charity or gives a dollar to a street musician or becomes a candy striper or cries at Apple commercials or says I love you or I forgive you. I think that's God. God is the connection of the very best parts of us.”  
~ Excerpt from The Sun Is Also A Star

To learn more about Nicola Yoon and her work, please visit the author's website or visit her on Twitter.


© 2016, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

28 comments:

  1. Oooh, I've been hearing so many good things about this book! I really have to find a copy to read some day!

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  2. I loved loved loved this! I'm including it as one of my "Best Books of the Year."

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    1. Jill - I am so glad to hear it! I'm sure it will be among my best books list of the year too. :-)

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  3. Wow! That is some recommendation. I've been reading some very mixed reviews of this book so am pleased you enjoyed it so much.

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    1. Tracy - I haven't read too many reviews this one myself.

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  4. Wow! I'm definitely adding this to my list!

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    1. Jenclair - I hope you like it if you read it, Jenclair.

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  5. I listened to this on audio and, at first, had trouble figuring out what was going on but, once I did, I adored Natasha and Daniel! This book is fantastic!

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    1. Kathy - I am glad to hear you liked it too! It was so good!

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  6. I loved this book as well and I'm glad you do, too. :)

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    1. Melody - I saved your review to read after I wrote mine. I am glad to enjoyed it too!

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  7. A couple that can rival Eleanor & Park...I so need this in my life!

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    1. Melissa - I hope you like it if you do decide to read it!

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  8. I have heard so many good things about this book! In general, I am not hugely into YA romance, but I think I should give this one a try :-)

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    1. Aarti - I'd be curious to know your thoughts on this one, Aarti. I thought it was very well written.

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  9. This sounds good and I can definitely tell it hooked you! I've been thinking about picking this up since her earlier book didn't quite work for me. It was one of those that I liked and could see how well written it was but the story didn't click so I'd like to give her another try.

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    1. Katherine - Everything, Everything does sound a bit more sad. I think you might like this one if you decide to give it a chance.

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  10. I am looking forward to this book. It may be my first book of the new year.

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  11. Wow, it sounds great. I added it to my wishlist after your glowing review. Thanks for the recommendation! That last quote is great.

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  12. I'm starting this book later today, based on all the blog recommendations it has received. I'll let you know what I think... :-)

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  13. I just recently received this from the Book of the Month club and I can't wait to start it!

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    1. Melinda - I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. :-)

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  14. I love all of the raves for this one. It's on my list this year!

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    1. Stacy - It does seem to be well liked by many. :-) I hope you enjoy it if you read it!

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