Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Book Review: "The Sun is Also a Star" by Nicola Yoon

The Sun is Also a Star Nicola Yoon
Date Finished: December 28, 2017
Date Published: November 1, 2016
ISBN: 9780553496680
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Source: Personal Copy - Book of the Month Club
Highly Recommended

You might enjoy this book if you like: Books with unconventional story telling, novels that take place over a short period of time, stories about first love

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 Thoughts:
There is an art to telling the story that takes place in a short period of time.  In my experience, it tends to be unsuccessful more often than not, but here Nicole Yoon hits a home run.

Neither Natasha nor Daniel are looking for love.  In fact, both are in very perilous positions--Daniel is being pressured by his family to follow a certain future that he does not want and Natasha is set to be deported that night.  There is a clear sense of urgency in this book, which is a key element in a book like this.  But the narrative never felt rushed.  In fact, Yoon would frequently step out of Natasha and Daniel's stories to share bits from the lives of other characters.  That may sound distracting, but it actually worked quite well.

I don't want to say that Natasha and Daniel are atypical---in fact, they are both pretty typical, but they are not cliched.  I have not read much (well, anything) about the Jamaican-American experience, but I have recently read some other novels that deal with the Korean-American experience.  Daniel's story here is different, but in the same vein.  I specifically enjoyed Yoon's description of Korea Town as it seemed to come to life off the page.

This was a much faster read than I had expected.  I had expected to take much more time to finish it than I actually did.  While the pace of the story is definitely a major reason for this, I think the fact that the chapters were short also contributed.  Short chapters serve two, strangely contradictory purposes.  One on hand, it makes it easy to pick up and put down the book so that you can read a bit whenever you have a free moment,  On the other hand, I seem to find myself more willing to keep reading if the chapters are short.

A character-driven novel such as this is hard to describe without going deeper into the details than one should in a review.  So, I'm asking you to take my word for it and give this book a try.  I doubt that you will be disappointed.

I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation for this post.

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