On a “perfect” fall day, seventeen-year old Natasha Kingsley and her family are twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Tasha decides to take a long shot and visit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to hopefully convince someone to let her stay, to not pay for her father’s mistake.
“To be clear: I don’t believe in fate. But I’m desperate.”
She’s desperate to stay with her friends, her home, her livelihood for the past ten years. Despite the fact that she doesn’t believe in miracles, Natasha was still hoping for one—she doesn’t want her future to be erased.
And you could really feel her pain through the words. Moving away is never easy, but when you don’t even have a say in it, that’s a whole new world of pain and sorrow that Nicola Yoon perfectly transcribes in this book.
“How long before her friends forget about her? How long before she picks up a Jamaican accent? How long before she forgets that she was ever in America?”
The Sun Is Also a Star has a switching narrative between two main characters, which made the story flow easily.
Side note: I liked that when a side character was mentioned in one chapter, they got to have a history page in the next one.
Our second narrator, Daniel Jae Ho Bae, is an aspiring poet who writes in his Moleskine notebook—poems about heartbreak, even though he’s never had his heart broken… yet.
Because of his upcoming alumni admission interview with Yale, Daniel’s parents let him have the day off from school. But staying at home, where his mother bombards him with questions, is not an option. So, on his Final Day of Childhood, he opts to go out, where he encounters Natasha having a moment with her music.
Tasha was on her way to meet with Attorney Fitzgerald to help with her case, while Daniel was on his way to cut of his short ponytail by his favorite barber.
Coincidence? I think not.
And we all know what follows after…This review will contain *mild spoilers* from here on.
I was expecting to be annoyed with the insta-love because the main premise is that they fall for one another in less than twelve hours, and for the main part I was… because after knowing her for 10 minutes (maybe even less), Daniel begins to imagine himself with Tasha in old age.
But this book deals with with such a plethora of heavy subjects such as: loneliness, heartbreaks, first loves, race, loyalty, suicide… that insta-love was the least of my worries (…but still problematic).
Daniel even kind of called himself out on falling in love so quickly.
“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.”
And he’s pretty sure that, though, he’s experiencing it on their second encounter… Natasha is not.
Of course, since Tasha cannot ignore the lovey-dovey looks he throws at her, she tells him the one line that always makes me crack up:
“Red Tie,” I say.
“Daniel,” he insists.
“Don’t fall in love with me, Daniel.”
I always find the last line hysterical because of Meredith from The Office.Literally cry-laughing over this.
Nevertheless, when Natasha informs him that she doesn’t believe in love (don’t worry, she’s not a cynic. “She’s a realist”… aka what every cynic ever said), Daniel tries to make her fall in love scientifically (using The 36 Questions That Lead to Love).
Observable fact: You know you’ve hit rock-bottom of desperation when you try to make a stranger fall in love with you like that… Yay, science.
They don’t have time to answer all thirty-six, since Tasha has an appointment and then she has to go home, so they argue over which questions to choose.
“We’re trying to fit a lifetime into a day.”
And I was looking everywhere to find the perfect thing to convey my feelings about their insta-lovey situation, and I finally found it:Thank you, Universe.
Another Observable fact: I feel like I would’ve loved this book a few years back, when I was just as cynical as Natasha. But reading about her crushing every dream of Daniel’s managed to drain all of my energy.But on a more positive note, when the focus shifted to the issues I mentioned at the start of this review, I got educated in the most honest and accepting way, so thank you, Nicola Yoon, for that.
And also on a completely unrelated note, I would love to see Daniel and Natasha’s norebang (karaoke) singing skills on the big screen.
I 100% condone his choice to sing “Take a Chance On Me” by ABBA. And I’m still laughing about his commentary on Natasha’s singing:
“Her singing is earnest and heartfelt and completely awful.
It’s not good.
I’m pretty sure she’s tone-deaf. Any note she does hit is purely coincidental.”
And finally after this part comes the moment I’ve been waiting for:
“Most poems I’ve seen are about love or sex or the stars. You poets are obsessed with stars. Falling stars. Shooting stars. Dying stars.”
“Stars are important,” I say, laughing.
“Sure, but why not more poems about the sun? The sun is also a star, and it’s our most important one. That alone should be worth a poem or two.”
I live for those crucial moments when titles are mentioned in the storyline.
And then we get to know what’s going to happen to Tasha’s deportations situation, which after reading Everything, Everything, I was pretty sure the end-game was self-explanatory. But for once in my life I had anticipated the wrong ending (…in a way).
Overall, I would say that The Sun Is Also a Star wasn’t what I was expecting, for better or for worse.
I wasn’t anticipating this book to be so heavily focused on the romance but rather on coming-of-age in ones most defining time. But the book did deal with a lot of other crucial subjects in the most honest way, and I’m incredible grateful for that.
So to quote Tasha, “the trouble with getting your hopes too far up is: it’s a long way down.”
P.S. I hate Jeremy Fitzgerald.
ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.