Goodreads: The Sun Is Also a Star
Published: November 1, 2016
Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?
The Sun Is Also a Star is a compelling story about how two teens’ lives collide on a single day where they feel like anything can happen. The plot is an interesting mix of realism in depicting the protagonists’ struggles (one is an undocumented immigrate whose family is about to be deported; the other is facing pressure from his parents to go to Yale to become a doctor so he can live the American dream) and pure fantasy (they fall wildly in love within a matter of hours and have some unexpected adventures). The end result is a book that doesn’t always feel cohesive but which will likely make readers think…and occasionally smile.
It did take me a while to get into the book purely because of the number of POV switches. There are the two protagonists, of course, Natasha and Daniel, and in the beginning the POV changes every page or so, barely giving readers time to get their bearings before being swept off somewhere else. Then the authors adds POVs from the universe in general explaining things like science facts (which I think I would have really liked as a teen but liked a bit less as an adult, since the information was familiar rather than revelatory to me) and POVs from random people the main characters encounter in the course of their day.
I struggled the most with this last POV category because the overwhelming effect was highly cynical. Nearly all of these people had something majorly wrong going on with their lives: suicidal thoughts, death of a loved one, divorce, an affair, etc. I think the author might have been going for commentary about how everyone has problems that other people often know nothing about (so, someone’s depression explains their “weird” behavior at work, for instance, which might make others more sympathetic and less judgmental if they knew about the struggles this person was facing), but the fact that everyone had some major issue that was preventing their happiness was a bit much for me. Seriously, I’m not sure there was a genuinely happy person in the entire book, and all readers are left with is the hope that things will somehow work out for Natasha and Daniel by the end. (Though, as an adult reader, I would have quite liked to think hope and happy endings weren’t just for the teen characters!)
However, the book doesn’t actually feel dark in spite of this scatter cynicism. The premise, after all, is based on instalove, the idea that Natasha and Daniel can find something amazingly special in each other in just a single day, after they met by chance. That’s definitely optimism. And in spite of their very real problems with their parents, their identities, and their uncertain futures, they find joy in things, talking together, going out to eat, exploring New York City. The fact that they’ve each found “the One” will be a hard sell for readers who don’t like instalove, but the book makes it hard not to root for them. Why can’t they have this happiness, and why can’t it last?
Somehow I don’t know exactly how I feel about The Sun Is Also a Star as a whole because the cynicism and the optimism clash, but maybe that’s the point. They’re both extreme emotions, but they’re both real, and maybe it’s difficult to fully reconcile them into something cohesive that “makes sense.” I do know I enjoyed reading the book more than I originally thought I would.