Details & Summary
The Sun is Also a Star is a love story that recounts the events of a single day. On that day, Daniel, a hopeless romantic and an aspiring poet, prepares for a Yale interview to please his parents who expect him to go to medical school. Natasha, a girl who believes in science and facts, is twelve hours from being deported to Jamaica.
Until they meet.
Much has been said and written about the romance between Daniel and Natasha. Some believe and fully embrace it, others shake their heads and mumble the one word that YA authors have come to fear. Insta-love.
I don’t think I’ve ever noticed anyone the way I’m noticing her.
And while I agree that their romance made me roll my eyes once or twice, I believe that The Sun is Also a Star is about connections that have a lasting impact. Without Natasha, Daniel wouldn’t have stood up to his brother and father. Without Daniel, Natasha would’ve remained a cynic and would’ve felt hopeless as she left for her home country.
This is also illustrated by the changing points-of-view. The book mostly switches between the points-of-view of Natasha and Daniel, but also includes chapters dedicated to minor characters. Irene, the security guard who appears indifferent but suffers from depression. The man who almost ran over Natasha but who’s lost his own daughter. The woman in the restaurant who tells Natasha to use chopsticks because she cut her own son out of her life.
Through these brief chapters, the readers learns that no character – and therefore no person in real life – is unimportant. Everyone has their own story, one that may involve a seemingly fleeting interaction or connection but has a lasting effect.
Irene the security guard is a prime example. Thanks to an interaction between Natasha and Irene – however insignificant it might’ve seemed to Natasha – Irene did not commit suicide as she planned to do. To me, this is the real message of the book: however insignificant it may appear to outsiders, two people can have a lasting effect on each other in a very short amount of time. Note that I’m avoiding the word love as I, like many others, still don’t believe in love at first sight.
But romance is not the only theme in this book. It also tackles important topics and issues such as identity, immigration, depression, and changing relationships between parents and children. Heritage, culture, and identity are strongly linked and are a problem for both characters. Daniel is too American for his parents, too Korean for America. Natalie is being deported from the country she calls home and feels like she doesn’t belong either.
To her I’m just another anonymous face, another applicant, another someone who wants something from America.
I can only applaud the diversity of characters and topics featured in this book.
Lastly, something must be said about Yoon’s writing style. It’s beautiful, engaging, and compelling. Yes, it contains rather “philosophical” musings and conversations between two young characters, but they didn’t feel forced nor did they pull me out of the story. But they weren’t my favourite either.
I loved the thoughts and conversations that transported me back to a time where I was a young teenager but trying (and failing) to be a realistic and logical adult.
He thinks my hair smells like spring rain. I’m really trying to remain stoic and unaffected. I remind myself that I don’t like poetic language. I don’t like poetry. I don’t even like people who like poetry. But I’m not dead inside either.
The Sun is Also a Star is a wonderfully diverse novel which discusses an array of important topics. It will not appeal to fervent haters of anything to do with insta-love, but I would still recommend it to them and urge them to give it a chance. You don’t need to believe in the romance to appreciate Yoon’s diverse cast, topics of choice, and writing style.
Readers who appreciate a beautiful writing style and don’t mind a little instalove