The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon – A Book Review: ★★

Not quite as bright as Everything Everything

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The Sun is Also a Star is a YA romance written by Nicola Yoon and published in 2016. The novel is mainly centred on Daniel and Natasha, two teens each with very important days ahead of them in New York City. Daniel has an upcoming Yale interview that his parents are dead set on him attending. This is the day where, unless Natasha intervenes somehow, her and her family will be deported to Jamaica in the night. Coincidentally, their paths cross and romance thrives.

First of all, I liked Yoon’s creativity with perspective in this novel. Both this and Everything Everything explore the theme of fate. Interestingly, Yoon stressed the importance of this theme in The Sun is Also a Star by writing each chapter from the perspective of a different character. I really enjoyed how she would present a moment from Natasha’s perspective, and then recount the same moment from Daniel’s point of view. What I enjoyed most of all were her chapters from the perspectives of strangers. If Daniel or Natasha encountered a stranger in the city, Yoon would give the reader a chapter from their perspective to justify their behaviour with the teenagers. I can see the kind of message Yoon was trying to put across – everyone is dealing with their own problems. However, I don’t agree with this message entirely. Some people perform good or bad acts for the sake of it, not because a happy or tragic back history affects their actions.

Alongside these multiple character perspectives, there were chapters discussing topics mentioned by Natasha and Daniel in conversation, for example, Yoon wrote a chapter about the African American history of hair. This leads me on to another strength of The Sun is Also a Star. It was wonderfully diverse! Yoon’s two protagonists were American Korean and Jamaican American and along with their ethnicities stemmed a fascinating narrative about their cultural identities. I loved learning about their cultural customs and norms. it’s something I wish was more prevalent in Young Adult fiction. As well as representing different enthnicities, Yoon also addressed some of their racial issues, as I’ve mentioned earlier with regards to African American Hair. After learning about the pressures women of colour have to relax their hair for ‘professionalism’, I felt it really important that other people should know how wrong this standard is. It’s great that Yoon is educating young adults on POC issues. Although this aspect highlighted Yoon’s feminist writing style, other elements of the novel did not.

I had issues with the way Yoon portrayed consent. The reader was supposed to root for Natasha and Daniel’s relationship yet there were many instances when Natasha would tell him not to do something and he wouldn’t listen and do it anyway – which was depicted as a romantic action rather than one of disrespecting boundaries. Daniel was following her at the beginning of the story! This is creepy, not romantic.

Not only did their relationship have consensual problems, it also felt very, very forced. Daniel and Natasha have known each other for less than 24 hours before they (spoiler) declare their love for each other. These characters have a dire case of Romeo and Juliet syndrome! Lots of their proclamations of love were very cliché and the way the novel ended made me roll my eyes. The relationship in Everything Everything was much more sincere and engaging.

However creative The Sun is Also a Star is presented, unfortunately, it doesn’t save the novel. I give this two stars.

Have you read this? What did you think of it?

 


Peter Hershey

 

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