Guest Post: Review of The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
Guest post by Wendy Chen
The Sun is Also a Star was one of my favourite recent reads, and definitely one I’d recommend to everyone. The story centres around Natasha, a girl with a passion for science from a family of Jamaican-American undocumented immigrants, twelve hours away from being deported due to a mistake by her father; and Daniel, who is Korean-American, poetic and dreamy, under pressure from his parents to become successful and a doctor, and who is meant to be on his way to his college admissions interview. A series of coincidences brings them together and they find themselves connecting in unexpected ways – but looming over all this is the knowledge that they’ll soon be forced apart.
First off, Natasha and Daniel were both brilliant and fully rounded characters whose voices really drew me in, and whom I wanted to discover more about throughout. I loved how pragmatic and mature Natasha was, and her passion for science. Facts about science, theories and logic are woven throughout the book, and I personally found this really engaging. Daniel was similarly compelling – the challenges with his family and the way he examined the expectations upon him was well-developed, and it was refreshing to see a passionate character who loves poetry, like he did.
Usually, I don’t actively seek out books with such a heavy romance focus, but the way Natasha and Daniel’s connection built up throughout the story was really original and beautifully written. An interesting study I’d actually read about online a long time ago, ‘The 36 Questions That Lead to Love‘, is integral to the story, and it was a delight to experience this and the way their relationship progressed throughout.
I love this part of getting to know someone. How every new piece of information, every new expression, seems magical.
Another highlight of The Sun is Also A Star was the nuance in its explorations of young people and families from migrant backgrounds. Though the image we’re presented of such people often conflates migrants as outsiders, there’s much more to it than that, and it was great to see this reflected in the book. Some families like Daniel’s, for example, went through many challenges in order to become American; others like Natasha’s family are undocumented and must deal with the fears and consequences associated with that. For some second-generation kids like Daniel, it’s the challenge of knowing what your parents sacrificed and trying to fulfil their dreams for your future. For others like Natasha, it’s the burden of their mistakes and having your future fall away because of it.
Leading on from this, I appreciated how Natasha’s and Daniel’s parents were also given a voice in the story. Their heartbreaking perspectives added depth to the generational and cultural divides, giving a more holistic perspective to these explorations:
He’s told them nothing about his past. He does it because he’s a father who loves his sons fiercely, and it’s his way of protecting them…They don’t know that poverty is a sharp knife carving away at you. They don’t know what it does to a body. To a mind.
The general pacing throughout was also done very well, interweaving backstory and different perspectives at natural points, in a way that contributed to the story. Finally, Nicola Yoon’s writing was lyrical and immersive. This is a great book if you’re looking for a quick, and yet extremely thoughtful, story.
Wendy Chen is a writer from New South Wales, with a particular passion for fiction, review writing and advocacy. She is a contributor to Meet Me At The Intersection published by Freemantle PressShe co-runs the blog LoveOzYA on Tumblr. You can find her website here.