The Sun Is Also A Star is a welcome change from the usual YA novel by addressing the idea of fate and taking it to task.
|Book’s Publish Date||11/1/2016|
|Genre||Romance, Drama, Young Adult|
|Good If You Like||Slow Burning Romance|
Books Which Address Cultural Differences
Black Nerdy Girls
A Taste Of The Immigrant Experience
|This Isn’t For You If||Want Something Light|
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The Sun Is Also A Star Plot Summary
It is an important day for Natasha and Daniel. Today’s the day Natasha may have to accept her fate that she will be deported for being an immigrant who overstayed her tourist visa. As for Daniel? It is the day he is to interview with a Jeremy Fitzgerald to get a smooth ride into Yale and do his family proud by becoming a doctor. For neither character do they want the path they are currently on.
However, as they cross each other’s path, for a moment, the universe goes into flux. They are allowed to believe they do have control of their own worlds, and can perhaps bend the larger universe in their favor. Making it so maybe Natasha will get to stay in the country, maybe Daniel will loosen the grip of his own immigrant parents and be free. But, what perhaps the two find themselves fighting with the most is one another as these opposites clash. Mostly over the idea of what love is, or can be, and whether or not both, over the course of a day, fell for each other.
Other Noteworthy Facts & Moments
Collected Quote(s) & .Gifs
How Natasha and Daniel’s Romance Is Handled
YA Novel romances sometimes can feel like a mixed bag. With them exploring someone’s first love, usually, it is passionate, sometimes over the top, and often times dramatic. Natasha and Daniel are different. Daniel, while he probably wants that whirlwind romance, Natasha is not that type of girl. Even taking away her possibly being deported, she is someone who operates from a rational or scientific point of view. Meaning, to her, Daniel’s talk about fate, the X-Factor, the eyes being windows into the soul, and things like that – she gets it but doesn’t believe it.
Making Daniel’s persistence, which is a bit stalkery at first, lead to a middle ground and both experiencing growth. Daniel, by listening and not necessarily trying to challenge Natasha each and every time, but rather engaging in conversation, is molded. He takes note of the science behind the world and the non-romanticized version of things. In return, Natasha opens herself up to the idea of being flattered by Daniel’s words and actions, and admitting she can be wooed. Maybe that her ex, Rob, simply didn’t know how to talk to a girl or treat one and Daniel is setting new precedents in her life.
Either way, what you’ll read is a slow burn. One which makes the end result unexpected yet strangely satisfying.
The Immigrant Experience
When it comes to Natasha and Daniel, their parents, and some third parties, you are reminded that this isn’t your usual blank slate kids with a pepper of quirks. Daniel’s parents are from South Korea, and he is a first-generation American. Natasha is Jamaican by birth, was raised there until she was around 9, and spent nearly a decade in Brooklyn, NY. With that in mind, they both come from places with a strong sense of culture and Daniel, in particular, has parents who aren’t flexible about their expectations due to their sacrifice.
For example, one of the issues brought up is the idea of self-hatred. When it comes to the Korean characters in the book, this is honed in on from multiple avenues. There is this waitress at a Korean type of karaoke bar who lost her son to a white woman and feels American culture takes everything from them. Which gives you an understanding of why Daniel doesn’t believe his parents would appreciate him dating Natasha.
Already, Daniel’s older brother, Charlie, he largely rejects and despises his Korean heritage. From avoiding speaking the language, not dating Korean women, allegedly changing his name to sound more American, and more, you get to understand the fear of the Korean parents of raising a child like that. One who you left home for, traveled across the world, and treat you and their people as if they are not good enough. That associating with them is lowly. So you’d rather assimilate until you blend in enough to deny all that you truly are.
And going beyond dating, there are the expectations set education wise. With upward mobility perhaps being nonexistent, the way Dae, Daniel’s father, makes it appear in Korean, it pushes you to understand why they want their kids to reach the top of the mountain – which is being a doctor. I’d even add in from Sex Education, the idea of them wanting their children proud of who they are and also experiencing the respect they, as fresh off a plane or boat immigrants, didn’t get.
Perhaps creating this complex conflict of wanting their children accepted and flourishing in American society, yet still holding onto their values.
But, on the flip side, when it comes to Natasha, she speaks for those raised in American society who are undocumented or overstayed their visa because of their parents. A perspective we get increasingly in media, like one of the last seasons of The Fosters, but there is something about Natasha’s take which makes it feel different. Maybe it is because, as someone who is Jamaican, but doesn’t have any strong connection, besides her parents, to the island, it’s not like she has her parents culture instilled in her. She may have a taste of their accent, but all she knows at this point is Brooklyn, New York.
Thus giving us a taste of what DREAMers likely feel and that sense of the place you call home labeling you an illegal squatter. And dealing with that rejection which isn’t easy to just brush off. For on top of calling you an outsider they are trying to send you to a foreign place in which you don’t know the culture, the people, and yet are expected to be able to survive. Which, as the book goes on, you increasingly realize how cruel that is since, unless you have family still there who can help, you might be deported and find yourself homeless and in poverty.
The Mothers Are Given The Short End Of The Stick
Neither Min, Daniel’s mom, or Patricia, Natasha’s mom, have much of a voice in the book. Min recounts what led her to get to America, has minor communication with Daniel, and disappears for the rest of the book. Outside of occasional mentions from Daniel. As for Patricia? I don’t think she gets 2 chapters, if even 1, from her point of view. Usually, she is a supporting character in Samuel or Natasha’s chapters which seems wrong in a way.
Which does lead me to note, part of the reason is because Natasha and Daniel have complicated relationships with their fathers, not their mothers, hence the lack of focus. Yet, even if they don’t butt heads with them, it’s strange to see these men be made into complicated figures while their wives seem like they were just along for the ride. Hoping for the best and, in the case of Patricia, prepping and expecting the worst.
On The Fence
The Supporting Characters
Like Everything, Everything, chapters in The Sun Is Also A Star are less about representing a memory or important moment and more so diving into a feeling. Like Natasha’s anxiety about going to see someone at USCIS, Daniel anger over his brother consistent rejection and tormenting of him since he was kids, or Daniel questioning if Natasha even wants him around? Making it when we get characters like Hannah, a man who lost his child recently and is a bit of a drunk, or an old security guard, it seems random and feels like time taken away from more important matters.
Yet, at the same time, you realize they are part of the story. The waitress at the karaoke bar helps flesh out the cultural conflict of Natasha being with Daniel. When it comes to Jeremy and Hannah, we’re reminded of how love is a chemical reaction and sometimes that leaves people burned. Yet, there is also Joe who found someone like Natasha, spent his life with her, and was quite happy.
Leaving you feeling a bit mixed about their inclusion. If only due to some feeling more fleshed out than the mothers.
The Sun Is Also A Star Overall: Positive (Buy) | Buy The Book From Amazon
The main thing you have to give props to when it comes to The Sun Is Also A Star is that it pumps the brakes on the book’s romance. It prods and questions the legitimacy and forcing the overzealous Daniel to really question is it lust, infatuation, or real feelings for Natasha. Then for Natasha, is part of the reason Daniel becomes interesting because he flatters her, and whether or not her past and deportation should be a reason to not at least enjoy the day?
Add in a sense of culture, more so on Daniel’s side than Natasha’s admittedly, and you get a book which feels evolved. Hence the positive label and a bit of excitement for the film which will be released May 17th.