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The Sun is Also a Star
Written by Nicola Yoon
Published by Delacorte Press, 2016, 344 pp.
My mother, the pacifist, would kill me dead if she knew what I’d just done. I rescheduled my interview. For a girl. Not even a Korean girl, a black girl. A black girl I don’t really know. (p. 118)
This unlikely love story disrupts the typical dating and relationship process by addressing both the poetry and the science of attraction and love. Daniel, the son of Korean immigrants, and Natasha, the daughter of illegal immigrants from Jamaica, find themselves inexplicably together on a momentous day. Both Daniel and Natasha are high school seniors who are on missions that will impact their futures. Daniel, the ever-dutiful but internally resistant son, has an interview with a Yale University alumnus to discuss Daniel’s application for a pre-medical program–but, Daniel thinks he might want to be a poet. Natasha is in the midst of a “hail Mary” to save her family from imminent deportation. If she fails, she is on the plane back to the island later that night.
Daniel’s poetic heart and Natasha’s analytic mind disrupt each other’s perceptions of love and possibility. Daniel believes they were meant to meet and know one another, but recognizes that his family would never accept Natasha. Natasha finds herself intrigued by Daniel’s sensitivity and sincerity, but recognizes their chances of seeing each other after this day together is highly improbable. A wonderful and enlightening story with contextual notes and commentary from both Natasha and Daniel, this novel not only presents readers with a love story, but with information about science and the human condition. What is the science of love? What can poetry do to restore the human heart? Daniel and Natasha show us.
The Sun is Also a Star would make a nice pairing with The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin (2015), as both attend to the role of science in human emotions. Other themes within Yoon’s narrative include the choices young people must make if they wish to become individuals, the possibilities available to young people if they choose to take the first steps, and how love cannot be contained within particular and often stereotypical pathways. This would make a wonderful addition to a text set about unlikely relationships, including If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson (2010); Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (2013); Beast by Brie Spangler (2016); The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (2014); Moon by Nine by Deborah Ellis (2014), and Yoon’s other best seller, Everything, Everything (2015).
Nicola Yoon grew up between Jamaica and Brooklyn. She now lives in Los Angeles with her family. Currently, her book Everything, Everything is being produced as a movie. More about Yoon and her work can be found on her website at www.NicolaYoon.com.
Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH