Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Recently Read: The Sun is Also a Star (And Thoughts on Fate)

Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publication Date: 2016
Page Count: 348
Rating: 5/5

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Natasha is about to be deported. She is spending her last day in America trying to find a way to stay instead of returning to Jamaica, a place she doesn't feel like she will ever fit in. Daniel is on his way to an interview for Yale, where he will go to be a doctor, just as his Korean parents expect him too. Fate, the universe, or random chance brings them together on Natasha's last day in a America and the meeting impacts them for the rest of their lives. 

I have a weakness for books that deal with fate. I'm fascinated by the idea of fate and the invisible governing force in the universe, whatever that may be. Because of this, I was really interested in reading this novel, and I really loved it. I flew through this book and lost myself in it. I liked both Natasha and Daniel, they felt real; I love when a young adult novel reminds me of what it's like to be a teenager and feel intense emotions and this novel definitely did that. Natasha and Daniel's interactions made me laugh, they frustrated me, and I found myself quite emotional at the end of the novel, which is always a sign that a book is a five-star book for me. 

I've seen quite a few reviews that complain about 'insta-love' in this novel, and I can see their point, but I think they are missing something. I think the point of Natasha and Daniel's immediate and intense connection is that it's governed by fate, or that higher power that orders the universe. I didn't find they're relationship unrealistic; there was growth and doubt in their relationship. I believe that you can feel connected to someone very quickly, and outside circumstances can heighten that connection and cause a sense of urgency. So in short, I didn't see this novel as a case of insta-love, and I really enjoyed Natasha and Daniel's connection and relationship.

This book made me do a lot of thinking about fate. What makes fate so interesting to me is that it can function as an alternative to religion for some people. I myself, am not religious, but I can't deny there seems to be some higher power that orders the universe. Many people, myself included, are uncomfortable with the idea of the universe and our lives being completely random and in our own control, so fate or destiny can act as that higher power we can blame in bad times or hope to in uncertain times.

The idea of, and desire for, a higher power is something shared between all humans, and in my opinion is one of the greatest appeals that religions make to human nature. This makes fate such an interesting and common theme to explore in art, and I think this novel is a thoughtful and well-done addition to that list of art. 

In short, I really liked this book. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me think: everything I could want from a novel.  

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