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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Review: The Sun is Also a Star

The Sun is Also a Star is a romance detailing the meeting and one day encounter between Natasha and Daniel. Reminiscent of Before Sunrise, Natasha's family is facing deportation and they have just one day to go through all the phases of a relationship, including the attraction, intensity, and of course, the lovers' quarrels and argument.

The cynical person in me wants to call this a paint-by-the-numbers romance. But it's "paint-by-the-numbers" via opposites. For instance, to make the boy and girl break stereotypes, Nicola Yoon makes the boy the poet and romantic and the girl the data-scientist wanna be. Like Nicola and her husband, the Natasha is Jamaican and Daniel is Korean. (Just in case you're wondering, there's probably a lot of autobiography in this novel: Yoon majored in electrical engineering at Cornell, and herself married a Korean American)

Daniel cites the study mentioned in the New York Times article about ways to make people fall in love, and proposes that Natasha and he perform that experiment. Woven about this narrative are side-glimpses into the lives of the people who touch them (and whom they in turn touch). There are a few wise glimpses into American society depicted by the novel:
America’s not really a melting pot. It’s more like one of those divided metal plates with separate sections for starch, meat, and veggies. I’m looking at him and he’s still not looking at me. (Loc 1620)
Ultimately, the book is short and enjoyable, not outlasting its welcome. To the extent that it feels youthful and shallow, it's probably because its protagonists have never done any bike touring:
When they do finally pull apart, it’s with a new knowledge. They have a sense that the length of a day is mutable, and you can never see the end from the beginning. (Loc 3920)
Perhaps most people who're giddy about falling in love are that way because it's the only intense experience in their life where one day can be made to last forever. The book is slightly mar'd by an ending that's too similar to Your Name, but otherwise can be recommended as a quick easy read that won't strain you while you're recovering from a cold your kids just gave you, or as an easy airplane novel.

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