The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon (347 pages)
Overview: One day really can change everything, and Yoon proves that in her novel. Though a set of random circumstances, Daniel and Natasha wind up meeting in New York City on the day that happens to be Natasha's last in the city. They both recognize their instant connection, but practical Natasha shies away from it while poetic Daniel tries to make her see that their relationship is worth fighting for. As they both face the biggest crossroads of their life, they have one day, and each other, to try to sort it all out before it's too late. Overall: 5
*This book might be a four way tie for my favorite book of all time*
Characters: 5 Yoon finds a way to make everyone the main character without ever making the story feel crowded. Both Daniel and Natasha are POV characters, and Yoon really lets us into their lives, allowing us to see the intricacies of why they are the way they are. Natasha is very factually minded and practical. She's gotten into an advanced science school and managed to thrive despite her parent's poverty and undocumented status. While I won't spoil this beautiful character evolution and depth, Yoon gives us bits of her past that allow us to understand where she is coming from in her stiff and reality based nature.
Daniel, on the other hand, dreams of being a poet yet is trapped in the expectation of going to Yale and becoming a doctor. Yoon shows how even though he disagrees with his family's strict values and ideas, he really never agrees with them. He is tied between his dreamy nature and the starkness of his parent's idea of reality. Through their meeting, Daniel and Natasha unwind each other and repiece themselves back together in a way that is remarkably organic for unfolding over a single day.
I also have to comment on the way that Yoon reminds the reader that everyone is the main character in their own life story. Through chapters authored in third person, Yoon gives a brief insight behind these characters that impact Daniel and Natasha in small ways giving motivations to actions the main characters barely think twice about.
Plot: 5 I loved the plot. They each have a mission that sends them into the city, and it turns out that meeting each other might have been the most important part. Yoon creates ups and downs with both Daniel and Natasha's relationship and Natasha's final plea to stay in the country after her father's DUI lead to their deportation orders. She manages to keep these evolutions, normally set over days, weeks, or months, realistic in the hyper-condensed time frame. While I'd formed my opinion on Natasha's ultimate fate before even opening the book, I wasn't nearly as invested in the ups and downs of that plot so much as the romantic element, Yoon still managed to throw in a last minute twist in the epilogue that was surprising and perfect.
Writing: 5 Wow. Just wow. I really have no words (actually there are way too many to use) to describe my amazement for Yoon's beautiful writing and what she is able to do with literary devices to not only make a world come to life but feel so complete and full. I love how she thought of, and then was able to execute, the insight chapters into significant but minor characters. These really centered the world and drove home one of her major themes which was fascinating. Hearing the motives or little tidbits Daniel and Natasha were oblivious to added dramatic irony to the mix, and at times, made me want to throw the book across the room. But it is a good reminder that whether you believe in fate or destiny or not, there are forces beyond your control that impact your life in ways you never know.
I also loved the strong sense of family and how that served as a strong motivator to the story. Both of the main characters came from immigrant families and from cultures where family community is very strong. Yoon really lets us into their families which give a greater understanding to their motivations and personalities.
I really did fall in love with how this book held every element of life, of the world around us, in it without ever feeling crowded or confused. It made me feel like I really learned something as well, which I believe is the great gift of reading. Yoon's first book is currently sitting unread on my shelf, and I can say that, without a doubt, I can't wait to dive into it!
Links Of Interest:
Coming Up This Month: October: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/09/coming-up-this-month-october.html
Spotlight Review: We All Fall Down: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/09/spotlight-new-release-we-all-fall-down.html
Week 28 Part 1: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/09/weekly-reviews-and-recommendations-week_27.html
If You Liked This Book:
Dream Things True (http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/07/standout-book-dream-things-true.html) features another stunning story of an undocumented immigrant that stands heavily on family and also has a romance that is put in jeopardy by her family's discovery. (5 star).
*If you were curious the other books tied for first place are
All The Bright Places (http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/03/standout-book-all-bright-places.html)