Sunday, November 20, 2016

the sun is also a star: stardust reviews

The Sun is Also A Star

Nicola Yoon



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?

full review under the cut!

Let's start with the obvious. Nicola Yoon has obvious made a crossroads deal with the Cover gods, because she has been blessed with the most gorgeous covers for both of her books! LOOK AT THIS ONE!!! It is absolutely incredible. This has nothing to do with the book itself, but I just love it so much I had to mention it. 

Okay. This book feels like something extraordinarily special, relevant, and heart-wrenching. I think this is such a book of our current moment, and I think that everyone should read it. I've been thinking a lot lately about how everyone says that reading fosters empathy. That people who read more books are more able or more willing to put themselves into the shoes of others and try to understand the world from different points of view. I've read a lot of books in my life, from a lot of different perspectives, and I can't help but think that might be one of the truest things I've heard. This book made me think about that saying, it made me pause and think about my own life and my own privilege, it made me uncomfortable but in a good way, and it made me feel a lot of things for characters that are incredibly different from myself. This book is one that fosters empathy, and I'm so happy that I read it, and I think everyone else should too. 

Nicola Yoon has written a book about an undocumented Jamaican immigrant on the verge of deportation and a korean-american would-be doctor on the verge of adulthood and made it about everything from immigration to college to differences between people to similarities between people to family to love to the human experience. Natasha was born in Jamaica, and she came to America when she was eight. She lives with her brother, mother, and father in Brooklyn, peacefully, until her father gets a DUI, the police find out that their family is undocumented, and they are forced to leave the country. Daniel was born in New York, but his parents are from South Korea, and he is constantly struggling to define himself both by their expectations and by his own experiences. His older brother, the golden child, has been suspended from Harvard, so all of the parental attention falls to Daniel, and he is on the fast track to pre-med at Yale when, on one perfect fall day, he meets Natasha. 

Daniel and Natasha meet on the worst day possible. Daniel is on the way to an interview for Yale, Natasha is on the way to an immigration lawyer, a last ditch attempt to stall her deportation, which is happening that very night. But they have like the cutest meet cute ever, in which they are first introduced in a record store while Natsha's ex-boyfriend makes out with the girl that he cheated on her with a few feet away. (lol) They share an instant connection, though Natasha (obviously) tries to avoid it at first, seeing as how she has about twelve hours until she leaves the country. But they end up spending the day together, traipsing all over New York, learning a lot about each other, and arguing about simple things like love, the existence of God, and how one person can be from two different places at once. It is an incredibly heart felt and heart warming book, and I could see the love that Nicola Yoon poured into every word. I felt it.

I love this book because, for everything else that it examines, it is also just like a really cute love story. Daniel feels immediately drawn to Natasha, both because he's attracted to her but also because of... some other reason that he can't put his finger on. A spark? A knowledge that she is someone he could be happy with? I don't know, but I could feel it too. Natasha is reluctant, because she, unlike Daniel the poet, only believes in science and that which can be scientifically proved. AKA? Not love. But through the course of the day, Natasha confronts the walls inside herself, and realizes that maybe she can give love a chance. Not just for Daniel, but for life in general. She doesn't have to go through everything clinically, detached from anything that might make her feel things, she can open up and be hurt and it will be worth it. Daniel, for his part, believes in love and soul mates and happily ever after, but there are things that he confronts over the course of the day too. Family and identity being two of them. Daniel doesn't know what he is, exactly. He's American by birth, but raised by Korean parents, loves the culture of Korea but doesn't feel like he is 100% a part of it. It doesn't help that his older brother is an asshole who rejects everything about his Korean heritage and Daniel feels like he can't talk to his father. I just really loved that these two characters have a lot in common, even though they come from very different backgrounds, and that they are able to find some common ground and learn from each other. 

I love that this book is about familial love as much as it is about romantic love. The relationships that these characters have with their families, and especially their fathers, are super complicated in a very real way. It's that uncomfortable feeling where of course you love someone, because they're your family, but you aren't sure if you like them very much. I just really applaud Nicola Yoon for making every character in this book super complex, and then making the relationships between the characters also complex, so everything is twisted and awkward and wonderful in a way that feels very true to life. Family and Love... two things that are so complicated but so simple at the same time, and Nicola Yoon describes them both so beautifully, intertwined and apart. 

Also, to end on a practical note, the narration style in this is INCREDIBLE. Just from a writing standpoint, I bet it was so difficult to do, but it turned out absolutely amazing. The main chunk of chapters alternate between Daniel and Natasha's POVs, but then there are these amazingly sparkly little chapters sprinkled throughout that are about... everything. They're told by a third person omniscient narrator, and they jump into the consciousness of... Daniel's brother or Natasha's mother or the driver that almost hits Natasha or the paralegal at the law firm Natasha goes to... and talks about them in future tense? It is so weird but so RIGHT. And also there are little history chapters, like the history of African-African-American-Black hair, the history of Natasha's father, etc. It's so interesting and strange and great. All these chapters fit together like puzzle pieces, so oddly shaped but so right together. I just admire this narration style so much, because I don't think I'd be able to pull it off. 

SO GOOD SO SWEET SO EMOTIONAL. Y'all should read it now. 


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