“The Sun Is Also a Star” is a new book from author Nicola Yoon, whose debut novel “Everything, Everything” became a New York Times bestseller. Although “The Sun Is Also a Star” is technically classified as a young adult novel, like all good YA it speaks just as powerfully to adult readers, who will find plenty to reflect on in this book.
Although Natasha and Daniel are both teenagers living in New York City, they couldn’t be more different.
Natasha loves science and quantifiable facts, and she doesn’t believe in “happily ever afters,” especially after her father’s DUI exposes their family’s status as undocumented immigrants andtheylearnthey’llbedeported to Jamaica.
Korean American Daniel is a dreamer, a poet and a hopeless romantic, and he feels some things are simply meant to be.
When he and Natasha meet, entirely by chance, he knows there’s a spark of something between them. Natasha doesn’t think it ultimately means anything; Daniel does.
They only have a handful of hours together, but those moments end up changing the way they view the universe, each other and their own selves. Their actions that day also create ripples in the lives of other people in ways they did not anticipate.
While the book’s core may be a love story, “The Sun Is Also a Star” also touches on important issues such as racism, immigration and family, and how seemingly tiny choices and interactions can alter the course of our lives and the lives of those around us.
It’s refreshing to see a book with two diverse leads, and Yoon does a good job exploring the similarities and differences between their respective cultures. While Natasha and Daniel have radically different backgrounds, they can both relate to the pressures of growing up and trying to decide what they want to do with their lives.
Natasha’s father originally brought their family to America so he could pursue his dream of becoming an actor. Natasha suspects he secretly resents his family and believes they have held him back from fully accomplishing his dreams.
She’s afraid of being deported, and on her last day in America she is desperately trying to find a way to stay.
Daniel is a Korean American whose parents want him to become a doctor so he will be financially successful and live out the American dream. He feels restricted by their dream for him, and he sees his chance meeting with Natasha as a way to break free from that and forge his own path.
As they spend the day together, they interact with various people, and those interactions have both small and major impacts. Yoon occasionally deviates from the main narrative to devote a few pages to these background characters.
Although this technique could have easily bogged down the story or made the book feel too cluttered, these side stories actually add to the richness of the overall narrative and highlight the interconnectedness of human life.
Due to the tone of the novel, a perfectly packaged happy ending would have felt too trite, and thankfully the book ends on a poignantly bittersweet note.
The book allows readers to draw their own conclusions about whether Natasha and Daniel were fated to be together or whether they simply made the most of a fortunate coincidence.
Regardless, in the end “The Sun Is Also a Star” is about far more than just love at first sight. It’s about looking past differences and breaking down barriers, and finding ways to show love and kindness in a challenging world. It’s about looking for the little doors of opportunity that open during the course of the day and not letting a chance to make a connection pass you by.
Maybe smiling at the person next to you in line at the coffee shop won’t change the world, but it could change the tone of a person’s day. And, for just a second, it really does make the world a better place.
Ashley Pauls is the communications coordinator at the K- State Alumni Association.