review: the sun is also a star by nicola yoon

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Date started: January 11
Date finished: January 15
Book 3/52 for 2017
My rating on Goodreads

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon is called one of the best young adult books of 2016 and topped almost every listicle I read at the beginning of 2017, when I was deciding what books I would tackle in January to start my book-reading goal off strong. Just scrolling through the Goodreads reviews, and everyone is in consensus here – five stars, best book of the year, amazing, special, beautiful, blah, blah, blah.

I did not hate this book, I didn't dislike it. I just don't feel passionately about it either way. There was a lot I did like, and I love Nicole Yoon and the way she weaves a story from when I devoured Everything, Everything way too quickly over the summer. A lot of people have compared this book to Eleanor & Park. I loved that book by Rainbow Rowell, and it made me bawl my eyes out. I won't be making that comparison here.

The Sun is Also a Star follows Natasha and Daniel, separately and together, through one single day in New York City. (For the record, the one-day-is-the-entire-book novels are never my favorite reads.) Daniel is convinced they are meant to be. Natasha isn't convinced by much of anything at all, and her family is set to be deported at the end of the day. Daniel is a hopeless romantic, and I'd say Natasha thinks most things are pretty hopeless. Both are bright, smart teenagers that feel a little too mature for their age and then not mature enough at the same time. They're fine. Not great. Just fine.

Genuinely, there is nothing bad about this book. Just nothing great for me, either. It was meh for me, from beginning to end. I was never engaged, never enthralled, never interested. Just pushing forward, chapter after chapter, wondering if I would figure out what everyone else loved about this one.

1. The explainer chapters and chapters in other points of view were hands down the best part.

There is a chapter explaining the history and the power of hair, in relation to Daniel's family's black hair shop that they own in New York City. There are the chapters in the points of view of Natasha's attorney and his secretary. And, of course, there is Irene. I loved the pauses from the plot – because, honestly, listening to Daniel explain for the hundredth time why love is really real and listening to Natasha explain for the hundredth time why Daniel needs to give up and go away gets very tiring after a while.

2. The interconnectedness. 

Just little things, here and there, and then the one big thing, but I was struck by the care Yoon took to connect everything in Daniel's and Natasha's day in small ways. They were both supposed to be in the same building after all, Natasha for her appointment with the lawyer and Daniel for his Yale interview. Daniel notices a woman playing violin near his parents' shop, and then in the next chapter, Natasha notices the same woman. It made Daniel's prattling about "meant to be" feel more true.

3. The ending, whether or not it is actually real.

The ending, which I will not spoil because it was beautiful in its own way, is listed as an "alternate reality." Because I'm not spoiling it, I can't tell you much about it at all, but I thought it was a perfect way to end the book.
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