I was between books, and The Sun is Also a Star kept appearing on social media. I thought—why not?—until I come across a title that really appeals to me. Was I in for a surprise! This book definitely falls in the top ten YA books I’ve read in the past year.
Natasha is an undocumented immigrant, born in Jamaica, whose entire family is being deported. Natasha is chasing a slim chance of avoiding deportation by seeking a last minute lawyer.
Daniel is a U.S. citizen whose parents came from Korea. On Natasha’s last day in the country, she meets Daniel accidentally. What follows is a whirlwind romance in one day. In fact, the entire story is told in the span of twenty-four hours.
Natasha leans toward science and believes love is just the culmination of hormones and physical attraction. Daniel is a poet who believes in love at first sight. This story is about their attraction and the dilemma—-that their romance is fated to last only one day.
“I’ve always known him, and we’ve only just met.”
The story gives a glimpse into what it’s like to come from another culture. Daniel’s parents try to maintain their original customs but their children strive to assimilate into America. Of course, that’s a recipe for parent/child head butting.
In contrast, Natasha’s father arrived in the U.S. with the dream of becoming a famous actor—he was ready to dive into the culture. Unfortunately, he continues to seek his dream at a high cost to his family. Living only on Natasha’s mother’s salary, the family lives in a one-bedroom apartment where Natasha has to share the living room with her brother in lieu of a bedroom. Her father has become very distant to her. This situation explains Natasha’s pessimism about love.
Daniel’s family pressures him to become a doctor and eventually marry a Korean girl. He blindly follows along with their expectations until one day (the day of the story) he decides to let the universe dictate his life. A series of coincidences leads him to meet Natasha.
The format of this book is unusual—-
Natasha and Daniel have separate chapters with their first-person point of view. Several minor characters also have separate chapters but these are in omniscient point of view (a godlike perspective.) As a writer, I found that surprising, but as I continued with the story it became clear that this format fit the story perfectly. The theme of the book is coincidence and choices versus true love. Each minor character reveals how even slight contact with people can have an impact on our lives.
The author portrays seemingly fleeting brushes with strangers with significance and power.
We may never know the influence of a brief connection.
If you’ve ever known the kindness of a stranger when you’re in a difficult place, you can relate to this idea.
I want to avoid any spoilers, so let me say that many of the coincidences in this story are amazing! You won’t put this book down for long. I can’t begin to describe the many nuances to this story.
The ending? A struggle between a box of Kleenex and a jubilant party!
A must read. Love, love, love! 5 stars
You might want to read my debut YA novel, Jadeite’s Journey, from Inkspell Publishing. Available now in print & e-book