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Review: The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon


Title: The Sun Is Also a Star

Author: Nicola Yoon

Purchase: Available in the UK and the US

Overall rating: 4/5

Great for: A diverse read by an own-voice author that will give any hopeless romantic their feel-good fix

Themes: YA, contemporary, romance, diversity

Review: This entire novel takes place over the course of twelve hours. Which is precisely how long it took me to read it.

Set in the dual perspectives of Natasha, a Jamaican girl, and Daniel, a Korean boy, this chronicles the events that took place over the course of just one day in their lives. For Natasha, this happens to be her last day in America as her family, due to their illegal status, are due to be deported back to Jamaica come nightfall. For Daniel, this is the day that determines the entire course of his life, as he prepares for an interview application to study as a doctor at Yale University. Scientific, closed-off Natasha and poetic, emotional Daniel discover that life doesn’t always proceed as planned and that fate can be more than what is written in their stars.

My previous experiences of Nicola Yoon’s writing, in her debut novel, ‘Everything Everything’, did not live up the hype for me so I hesitant to delve into this.

 

But a few pages in and I immediately knew I had nothing to fear. The same lyrical and transcendent quality of writing drew me in, but the characters were what made me stay. I was invested in their individual stories from the moment I met them. Both proved equally as lovable and their entwined narratives made for compelling reading.

Their harrowing tales both primarily concerned their issues over their cultural identity. Daniel’s continuing affliction over his divided status as both Korean and American meant he struggled to provide a unified identity for himself. For his parents, he is too American, and for America. he is too Korean, which left him unable to find his ‘fit’ in society, without performing to a stereotype. Natalie’s problems stem from her illegal status. She is not only losing the country she called home but her position as human as well:

“”To her I’m just another anonymous face, another applicant, another someone who wants something from America.”

This is far more than the boy-meets-girl that it is initially set up as. Yoon cleverly uses a burgeoning teen romance as the catalyst that sets a series of lives in an unprecedented motion, which perfectly exemplifies the butterfly effect: the concept that small causes can have a greater and unforeseen impact on something previously unrelated. The story is interconnected with fragments of others’ lives that touch on the main narrative, despite their initial quasi-irrelevance. Small events ripple outwards and everyone’s lives become collateral in the process.

Yoon presents her characters as more than their heritage and culture. They are both an amalgamation of their ancestry and their present surroundings. They are learning to accept that being themselves does not have to mean being entirely one thing or another. Being human is about vibrancy and disorder, and that’s okay. Being human is about holding the entirety of the universe inside every atom in your body and containing that chaos inside your skin –  no matter the colour of it.

 

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