The Sun is Also a Star. But I did. I feel like tons of people are giving this book glowing reviews right now, so I'm not sure that I have a lot to add to the conversation. But I enjoyed so many things about this book!
I don't read a lot of young adult romance, mostly because I find it overly dramatic (see my review of The Wrath and the Dawn for more on this). But this book was good after good!
It centers on Natasha, a Jamaican immigrant who is being deported (TODAY) and Daniel, a Korean-American who really doesn't want to go to Yale to be a doctor. They meet at a music store while they are both avoiding what appears to be the inevitability of their lives, and then they spend a mostly perfect day together.
I say that this book centers on Natasha and Daniel, but what drew me into the story right from the beginning were the vignettes from other people's points of view. We get brief moments into other people's lives and minds and these insights brought so much depth to the story. We learn about Natasha's parents and how the move to New York strained their marriage. We learn about Daniel's parents and how all they want is to ensure their children never have to live in the extreme poverty they saw. But we meet people who have only a periphery connection to the story, too. A drunk driver whose daughter was killed in a car accident. A security guard who wants desperately to connect with people but cannot find a way to do it. A paralegal who falls in love with her employer. A lawyer who realizes he's in love with his paralegal. These vignettes are short and bittersweet but show just how much we can impact other people's lives, from those closest to us to those that we hardly notice. I loved them.
I also loved Natasha and Daniel's story. I wasn't sure if I would at the beginning, mostly because Natasha said something about how she didn't think she was "wired for love," which did cause me to roll my eyes a bit, coming from a 17-year-old. But the more I learned about Natasha, the more I realized this was in line with her personality. And Daniel the dreamer, who wants to become a poet, not a doctor - he was pretty great, too.
One thing I really loved about this book was the way Yoon portrayed immigrant families. This is where the insights into other characters and the omniscient narrator really shone. Yoon showed that there is often a generational divide between immigrant parents and their children, but that under that is a deep level of love and trust that often can be overlooked by people who have not directly experienced it. Both Natasha and Daniel disagree with their parents on important things but they still respect and love them. And their parents really do try to do what is best for their children, but their definition of what is best is different than their children's. One moment that made this clear was when Daniel said, honestly and clearly, that his parents would never attend his wedding with Natasha. They probably would stop speaking to him if he married someone who was not Korean. I know many parents like that (and some parents who used to be like that and then changed), and it was a very realistic scene.
I really enjoyed this book, and I think that even if you don't enjoy YA romance, you might enjoy it, too! Give it a try! And if you enjoy audiobooks, I definitely recommend listening to this one on audio!
The "Parents" episode from See Something Say Something. Beautifully done interview and poetry about growing up as the child of immigrants.