Review of The Sun is Also a Star

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton! The #1 New York Times bestseller and National Book Award Finalist from the bestselling author of Everything, Everything will have you falling in love with Natasha and Daniel as they fall in love with each other.

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?

 

***

MY REVIEW:

First of all, wow. 5/5 stars. This book is amazingly written. The prose is poignant but smoothly read. The characters are complex but distinctly unique, with clear motives you can’t help but cheer for, hold your breath for, yearn for.

This, along with solely John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, holds a coveted spot in the category Made me cry and in a wider, but no less impressive category, Kept me thinking about the characters and plot after I closed the book

This book tackles tough, important issues, like immigration and race in not only a tactful, honest, and true way, but also does so realistically. Authors who want to write about such topics should read this book, study it, worship it, soak in all its wisdom and technique and hope to seek the level it attains.

In the vein of complexity, Yoon does what most of us do not dare to do– as writers, readers, or humans– to see aspects of initially unlikable people (perhaps even potential villains in our life stories or novels) and find their humanity. Their driving force and their flaws as forgivable and secondary rather than intrinsic and defining.

Normally, as a writer myself, I often catch myself reading as one– analyzing the length of scenes, dialogue/description rations, stopping at great metaphors to figure out why and how they work. I didn’t stop at all reading this book. I sat down, picked up the book, and put it down less than 4 hours later. Perhaps this had to do with the realistic dialogue and the grounding, but not overpowering, reference to location and real-world phenomena. Perhaps this story was just good at doing what books are supposed to– transporting us to other realities or viewpoints and then dropping us off later, with a little more understanding of what humanness is, beyond our own, limited viewpoint.

Although, as many readers do, I tend to lost when the viewpoint switches too much, I absolutely loved the different viewpoints and short chapter lengths. The short length helped with pacing. The different viewpoints allowed the visiting of a more complex view of the same events (and the same people) and the manifestation of the book’s theme of needing to know everything in order to know something simple– that perhaps ‘observable facts’ are not simply enough to understand the world that is laden with bias and differing views and abstractions like love and dark matter.

Some of the chapters read, beautifully, like short stories on their own. The reassignment of a minor character as the main character in a chapter, along with more elaboration than they normally would get, was especially powerful. The possible ascension of anyone to the role of main character, along with the addition of the life lessons they had learned and how they looked at a scene or issue or life added a layer I didn’t realize was possible (or important) until I read this book.

Finally, although I sometimes like love stories like the meet-cutes in rom coms or other instances where love occurs rapidly (also called insta-love), often it lacks a genuineness. It feels heart lifting, maybe, but also fake and unrealistic. While technically this book takes place in around a day, it doesn’t feel like that. The basis for a real, healthy relationship/love is founded first. The character’s attraction to one another goes beyond looks. They know who the other person is because as a reader, along for the same ride, we know who they are.

All in all, you should read this book.

If you know a lot about the immigration process, read this book. If you don’t know much about the human side of the immigration process, read this book.

If you like captivating reads with complex characters, read this. If you want great writing or just a great book, read The Sun is Also a Star.

 

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