Publisher: Corgi (Penguin)
Release Date: 1st November 2016
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Plot: 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?
I received this book as an ARC from Penguin in exchange for an honest review.
There’s something about straight, summer romances that has people coming back for more. While I’m not one to judge if you love reading them over and over again (everyone has a genre/theme/plot device they can’t get enough of), I still like to question why, after the market being saturated with them, these plots are still popular.
I’m talking about the two white, middle class heterosexuals falling in love, and then maybe one gets cancer but then it’s alright in the end nobody dies everything is fine everyone gets to go to prom. There’s a black best friend, bonus points if there’s a camp gay guy in the background somewhere and the male love interest is a bit of a dick.
I’ve read a lot of contemporary romance this year and it’s YA that seems to be the one to actually break out of these stereotypes and introduce something new and different and, dare I say it, diverse. The Sun Is Also A Star is a new example of why YA is important, and should be read not just by young adults but old adults too. There’s a real stigma when it comes to a certain type of contemporary, and it’s because of the stories I just described, where having a black person as your main character is considered a ‘curveball idea’.
While I’m not about praising authors for doing something so basic (yet important) as being diverse with their characters, I will absolutely praise Nicola Yoon for highlighting the rampant casual racism and struggles that POC youth have to deal with just because they’re not white e.g. the fact that black women have this idea reinforced constantly that their hair is not “good hair”. This is stuff you probably wouldn’t consider if you’re in your own little bubble like many of us are. It’s not just that, it’s also that characters such as Natasha and Daniel are relatable to so many who don’t see themselves in not one character in YA because so many books are about the people who don’t consider representation because they open up a book or turn on the TV and see themselves every single day.
I will say this; don’t read this book because the main characters are black and Asian and you want to feel like you did something good by picking it up. Read this book because it’s insightful, because it treats each character (even the ones you only meet briefly) to a rich backstory with traits that may deem them unlikable, and yet you can’t help bit find them interesting. Read this book because you are sick and tired of the same old dumb story, and you like the idea of reading about people you maybe can’t relate to, or you’re tired BECAUSE no characters in YA are relatable to you, and these definitely will be.
Oh, and not everyone goes to prom. But the people at prom are not necessarily the interesting ones, are they?