The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

thesunisalsoastar-680x1024The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Published by Delacorte Press on November 1, 2016
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary
Pages: 349
Format: ARC, paperback
Source: Publisher

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4 Stars, Completed November 6, 2016

– SPOILER free –

Gosh, I adored this book so much.

The Sun is Also a Star is a story about two teenagers, living very different lives, that happen to meet. Natasha is a girl that has solely relied on her knowledge of science and facts. When her father carelessly exposes their family of being undocumented immigrants, Natasha finds that she has to leave the “land of opportunity” and return back to the place she was born, Jamaica. But she can hardly view the island as her home since she hasn’t lived there since she was a young girl. She feels more American than anything. Then there’s Daniel. He has always been the good son-the one that has made the good grades, proudly kept his Korean roots, and met his parents expectations. So when his brother receives a suspension from an ivy league college, all the more pressure is put onto Daniel to redeem and save face for the family. However, deep down, Daniel knows he doesn’t really want to be a doctor but rather a poet. So when Natasha and Daniel encounter each other to say that they have an instant connection is too unrealistic.  But both find that this serendipitous meeting and the company of the other is exactly the distraction they need in their lives at that moment.

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.
I’m pretty sure that’s what I’m experiencing right now. The only slight (possibly insurmountable) problem is that I’m pretty sure that Natasha is not.

Nicola Yoon has done it again! Only she would be able to make instalove work in fiction. The instalove is certainly there (with both this book and Yoon’s debut, Everything, Everything), yet the romance is still effortlessly crafted without being too dramatic and the quick attraction between the characters is forgivable, in my opinion. I can’t quite explain it, but personally I find that Yoon manages to make instalove work and not appear ridiculous (as other scenarios displayed in YA fiction).

Besides the fact that I’m being deported today, I am really not a girl to fall in love with. For one thing, I don’t like temporary, non provable things, and romantic love is both temporary and non provable.

Natasha is a character that readers can empathize with, whether it be her anxiety with the uncertainty of her future, her bitterness towards one of her parents, her logical way of thinking, or just her lack of belief and skepticism towards love.

When Natasha thinks about love, this is what she thinks: nothing lasts forever. Like hydrogen-7 or lithium-5 or boron-7, love has an infinitesimally small half-life that decays to nothing. And when it’s gone, it’s like it was never there at all.

Interestingly, Natasha’s perspective and analysis on life is purely based off of facts. With her chapters, science is often discussed, which was something I could appreciate and understand seeing as I was a STEM student in my undergraduate years. It was refreshing to have this aspect of the book researched and done so well. And it isn’t at all utilized to be overwhelming or tedious.

I also felt a great connection to Daniel. The pressures, concerns, and anxieties he shares are common among many first generation Asian Americans. Personally, I grew up with a really supportive dad that allowed me to have the freedom of choosing whatever career and future I desired, but I had many friends that didn’t-and still don’t-have that luxury. I thought Yoon did an exceptional job with creating Daniel’s character and background in that aspect. She also hit the nail on the head with her accurate representation of Asian American culture.

“I’m sorry,” he says. “I’m sorry about my family.”
I nod, because the feel of his heartbeat is doing funny things to my vocal cords.
“I’m sorry about everything, about the whole history of the world and all its racism and the unfairness of all of it.”
“What are you even saying? It’s not your fault. You can’t apologize for racism.”
“I can and I do.”

“You’re not your dad,” I say, but he doesn’t believe me. I understand his fear. Who are we if not a product of our parents and their histories?

And The Sun is Also a Star presented a community with racism and discrimination in a subtle manner that portrayed today’s society quite realistically. The fact that Daniel’s parents wouldn’t be okay with him dating a non-Asian and downright against him dating a black girl is not that hard to believe as much as I wish it was. I can’t speak for all, but I know of many families where the more traditional and strict elders expect and want their kids, grandkids, and descendants to marry within their race. In a way, this is a form of implicit racism that is rarely talked about. And I’m so thankful Yoon made a point of this in several scenes, because it’s certainly a challenge I believe interracial couples may face. I also really liked that this incorporated these important, thought provoking themes, but that they weren’t the major focus that this’d be considered YA African American and Afro Caribbean literature.

In addition, I’m impressed that both characters defies stereotypes (both racial and gender). Daniel is the poet and romantic, while Natasha is the scholar and logical one of the two.

Also, I can’t be the only one that noticed small parallels between the two main roles and Yoon’s personal life. I’m aware this isn’t a quasi memoir or anything, but I did find some similarities: Like the fact that Natasha and Daniel share the first letters as Nicola Yoon and her husband, David Yoon. Or that Natasha grew up in Jamaica (like Yoon) and Daniel’s Korean American (like Yoon’s husband). Not to mention, the book is set up in New York, another place Yoon is familiar with since she has lived there. And lastly, Natasha enjoys karaoke but is a terrible singer just like Yoon apparently (I promise I’m not being presumptuous-those were totally Yoon’s words).

Speaking of the norebang (karaoke session), this book takes place in an extremely short time span (12 hours to be exact) but this type of setting and timeline appealed to me. (Granted, I do tend to enjoy such books though, like Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and You Know Me Well.) However, what I couldn’t overlook and was slightly confused by was the formatting of the chapters. It’s not a back-and-forth split perspective between Natasha and Daniel as I thought it’d be, but rather a switch of different narrators and sometimes histories of certain objects, theories, and people. There were some that I thought fit well and added to the story (the history of the side characters), while other interludes left me wondering if their contribution were necessary (the history of some of the objects/conjectures). One of my favorite parts about Everything, Everything were the clever arrangement and use of vignettes, but I must confess that I wasn’t as impressed with the way the short chapters were constructed in this one. This is the only reason behind why I’ve deducted a star from what would have otherwise been a perfect rating. Though, it could just be me that thought there was a lack of flow and cohesion in the narrative.

So despite all my praise I can see why The Sun is Also a Star wouldn’t be a perfect read for some. Those that absolutely despise instalove (and find that there’s no way around such instant, unrealistic relationships), don’t enjoy short (and slightly less cohesive) chapters, and find books set in a small span of time unappealing, should feel free to still pick up this book (because I think it’s worth it) but I’d advise to go into it with lower expectations considering that this standalone includes all three of those factors.

Upon closing the book after the last page, I think I let out a tiny sigh of relief for I was so glad that the story lived up to the incredible cover. The Sun is Also a Star was a lovely romance that made me swoon and ship two sweet characters, but more importantly it included a handful of important messages that are beneficial reminders to all readers: always be true to yourself; often times unexpected misfortunes can lead to better things; life is unpredictable, and sometimes it’s just about meeting the right person at the right place at the right time.

Quotes were taken from an uncorrected advance readers copy.

Thank you Delecorte Press for the opportunity to read and review The Sun is Also a Star. In no way did this affect my reading experience and honest review.

Oh and here’s a cool behind the scenes video on how the cover was created:

Summer’s Playlist:
Cosmic | I’m in Love | Love Song | In Your Arms | From Here to Mars
*the bold/underlined are must listens!

Blog @xingsings | Instagram @readxings | Twitter @xingsings

22 thoughts on “The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

  1. Marie @ drizzleandhurricanebooks says:

    What a lovely review, Summer! I have this book on my TBR because I really enjoyed Everything, Everything, despite the insta-love. I’m a bit sad to hear it happens in that book as well, but glad that it’s handled well and doesn’t feel too unrealistic, either. Also, I had no idea there were parts of these that resembled Yoon’s life, this is so interesting. So glad that book is as good as the cover is, can’t wait to read it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Thank you so much, Marie! Ah yes, I was a little dismayed (at first) that instalove makes another appearance but Yoon does an incredible job at making it work (once again), at least to me. And I can’t wait for you to read this one; somehow I have a good feeling you’ll like it. ^.^

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nerdybirdy @ Daydreaming Books says:

    I am sooo glad you loved this book! Although I haven’t read Everything, Everything yet I am looking forward to this one. Insta-love doesn’t bother me much if it is done well and it sounds like it was executed brilliantly. Can’t wait to give it a try. Great review as always Summer!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Liam @ Hey Ashers! says:

    I’m officially curious about the prospect of an author who can make instalove work. That, more than anything else, will probably get me to read this book (though it does have many other charms–its portrayal of race and racism, particularly).

    My opinion of the instalove will probably hinge mostly on how they behave at the end of the book. If, after just a day together, they do something drastic in an attempt to be together forever because THEIR LOVE IS SO PURE–nope. But I can totally buy a sudden and deep infatuation with someone that could create the illusion of love, and a desire for continued intimacy, just without all the weeping and teeth-gnashing and I NEED YOU FOREVER stuff. So if they’re able to stay together and are happy about it, that’s fine; and if they’re separated and sad about it, that’s fine too.

    Uh, clearly, my needs for the portrayal of love in novels are very specific. ^_^;

    Your description of the chapter format does throw me off a bit. Perhaps, now that I’ve been forewarned, it won’t bother me quite as much as it did you? Guess we’ll have to see.

    Fantastic review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Thank you, Liam! And OH MY GOODNESS, we are definitely on the same page when it comes to our romances in fiction then! I totally agree with you, (regardless if it’s with instalove or slowburns) I don’t seem to like romances where the couple depends on each other so much that they’re like air to the other. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been in love, but that type of romance isn’t authentic (or realistically achievable) to me. I mean, love is amazing but people need to be independent and have time by themselves, you know? Anyway, I think I’m totally digressing. But I seriously cannot wait to see what you think of this book if you ever do pick it up. I’m sure you could finish it in a day because Yoon books are mostly full of short chapters and vignettes, really. And I hope the ending proves satisfying to you as it did for me. (Not going to say too much on that though because of spoilers.)

      (Also, don’t worry, your WP notifications will be calm the next few days since I have finally caught up with all the comments on my blog. /happy dance/ No matter how busy I am in 2017, I’m so not going to let this blog go as I did this year. >.<)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Liam @ Hey Ashers! says:

        “I don’t seem to like romances where the couple depends on each other so much that they’re like air to the other.”

        YES. And if a couple really is that co-dependent, that’s a blazing sign that the people and the relationship are unhealthy. It’s definitely not some romantic ideal that readers should aspire to.

        The fact that you enjoyed the ending so much makes me confident I’ll enjoy it too! You have excellent taste, as we all already know.

        (Ha, no worries! I’m glad you caught up; it can be so incredibly stressful to be behind, and the less stress in your life, the better.)


  4. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence says:

    Oh man, I’m not a fan of instalove but sometimes I can put my problems with it aside if the rest of the story is good. I love the sound of the book because of the diversity and that implicit racism is something that all asians can realate to I think. Lovely review Summer, I can’t wait to read this!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. cw @ readthinkponder says:

    In a word… Wow.

    I feel ashamed. I’ve seen this book being talked about left, right and center, but I never thought to actually read the synopsis? What you laid down in the summary part of your review was like a light switching on in my head. NOW I SEE WHY PEOPLE LOVE THIS BOOK! 😍

    I really feel like I would love this book. I had no idea that it explored so many themes that I have a personal interest in. Thank you SO SO much for writing this review, Summer! I really mean that. I feel like I need to read this book now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Hehe, well I’m just as guilty for brushing off books and not reading their summaries. I mean, I already have so enough titles on my TBR list as it is; I don’t want to overwhelm myself by adding more. But this one is worth adding to your priority list, Chooi. I loved it (clearly)! 😀

      Thank so, so much for reading! XD

      Liked by 1 person

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