The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon

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The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Intensely romantic story of love at first sight, combined with a thoughtful exploration of the experience of immigrant communities in the United States.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: November 2016
Publisher: Corgi
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0552574244

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Shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2017: Older Fiction

Natasha is a rationalist. She thinks life is all about observable facts: data and the effective analysis of it. In fact, she wants to become a data analyst and help make the world a better place through the evidence-based policies that will flow from it. But this ambition is looking less likely now. Because Natasha is an undocumented immigrant to New York, the authorities have found out about it thanks to her reckless father, and unless there's a miracle, Natasha will be deported back to Jamaica in just twelve hours.

Daniel is a dreamer. He would like to be a poet. But this ambition doesn't suit his Korean parents. They want him to become a doctor and the pressure is constant. In fact, Daniel has an interview for his application to Yale University this very day. He can't summon up much enthusiasm for it.

Natasha and Daniel run into each other entirely by accident on this important day in both their lives. And, despite their differences, they feel an instant and intense attraction. Daniel sets out to prove to Natasha that love at first sight is possible. But even if it is, with Natasha's deportation imminent, can this particular love story ever have a happy ending?

The Sun is also a Star has a very distinctive structure. The story is told in very short chapters - some less than a page long - alternating between the viewpoints of Daniel and Natasha. This to and fro narrative is also punctuated by chapters giving the histories of minor characters and factual excerpts on anything from stars to poetry to the domination of South Koreans in the African American hair care market. I mention this because some readers may find it interrupts the flow and urgency of a love story that takes place over just twelve hours. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was nice to see bit part players fleshed out and I also found out all sorts of things I didn't know anything about. You will have to decide for yourself whether this format appeals to you.

But mostly, this is a sweet and moving story of first love and love at first sight. It's a little bit cheesy at times, but if a love story can't be cheesy, what can? But I just loved the idea of a romantic and a rationalist coming together in this way. And underneath the romance runs a thread of honest authenticity about the immigrant experience in the United States - in some ways it's a melting pot and in others it most certainly is not. First and second-generation immigrant readers from any country will find a lot to relate to and non-immigrant readers will be able to see things through new eyes - I am the latter and it was valuable to me.

I truly enjoyed The Sun is also a Star and, unless your heart really is made of stone, I think you will too.

Angel Cake by Cathy Cassidy is a very sweet British immigrant love story. For more from Jamaica, try Time Swimmer (Island Fiction) by Gerald Hausman.

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