I will admit: I was a little hesitant to read this book given the fact that I really didn’t enjoy Nicola Yoon’s other book, Everything, Everything. Also, Young Adult contemporary novels can be very hit or miss for me. I’m outside of their demographic now (which is probably why more and more of them are becoming misses) and I often find myself judging them through the lens of an adult; thinking about how I would do things differently or how a simple conversation would solve 90% of any given protagonist’s problems. Knowing that, I went into the book trying to remember it is from the point of view of two young teenagers at extremely volatile points in their lives.
The Sun is Also a Star follows Natasha and Daniel through a single day in New York City. It’s an emotional one for Natasha – her family is being deported from the United States. Ever the hard worker (and logical to a fault) – she’s on a mission to seek legal council and find a way to stay in the country. Daniel, on the other hand, is a air-headed poet who decides he is in love with Natasha after meeting her briefly. He proceeds to follow her around all day as she tries to find a way to keep her family in the country that she has lived in for most of her life.
The narrative of this book told from both Natasha and Daniel’s perspectives. Additionally, there are small vignettes throughout the book about supporting characters in the novel. These small stories help explain exactly how these characters came to be in the situation they are in now. One such vignette explains how a simple gesture from Natasha eventually saved a woman’s life. Having these little stories and explanations as asides really added a level of depth and a feeling of everything being interconnected that is too often missing from contemporary fiction.
As far as Natasha and Daniel go, I wasn’t a big fan of the fact that they basically ran head first into a relationship without knowing anything about the other. It’s rushed, instant love like this that gives YA books a bad reputation. I would have much preferred to have more of a focus put on the gravity of the situation that Natasha was going through and also spend more time exploring Daniel’s relationship with his family.
This is a bit of a spoiler, but the fact that this book didn’t take the easy way out is really my favorite part. The cynic in me was expecting all of the growth that the characters experienced to be undone by having the plot wrap up into a neat little happily ever after with no consequences to the characters. Instead, we get a bittersweet ending in the form of a lovely epilogue that pulls some unexpected characters together. Was the plot perfect? Absolutely not, but given that this is a YA book, they certainly didn’t take all of the cop outs that they could have gotten away with.
The Sun is Also a Star is a book that tackles a serious topic with as much gravity as it can muster while targeting a young adult audience. It just didn’t give enough weight to the magnitude of being deported as much as it should have. It also falls into some of the same traps as it’s more generic, contemporary peers, but it recovers some of it’s quality through the unique storytelling. Will I ever reread this book? Probably not. I would, however, recommend it for young adults looking for something a little different to read.