The Sun Is Also a Star

by Nicola Yoon

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Jamaican American novelist Nicola Yoon is an expert in young adult fiction. Her 2016 novel, The Sun Is Also a Star, shares its genre with (and follows closely on the heels of) her acclaimed novel Everything Everything (made into a movie in 2017). The novel is narrated by a third-person omniscient narrator, as well as by protagonists Natasha and Daniel in the first person. The novel demonstrates the power of positive thought and disposition and also the reliability of fate.

The story follows seventeen-year-old Natasha Kingsley, an undocumented immigrant from Jamaica whose father's DUI has caused her pent-up anger to build. She has been cheated on by her boyfriend and has been denied her appeal to the US Customs and Immigration services. During the course of the novel's narration, she is to be deported in the evening.

Natasha finds herself on a subway with an evangelistic conductor who has found God and encourages his passengers to find God, too. It is here that Daniel sees Natasha and assumes she must be a sign from God (as she has a tattoo which reads "Deus ex Machina," or God from the Machine). With this in mind, Daniel speaks with Natasha. The reader learns from Daniel's narration that he is a Korean immigrant whose full name, Daniel Jae Ho Bae, is a reflection of his mother's cultural ambivalence and his joint identity. Daniel also reveals that his older brother has been kicked out of Harvard and that Daniel himself is a under a lot of pressure to perform as his parents expect.

Natasha and Daniel fall in love. They share immigrant stories, but more importantly, they share a growth-minded disposition. The minor character of the train conductor inspires Daniel to look for the divine in the ordinary. Daniel, at the advent of his interview for Yale, resolves to "blow in the direction of the wind." Natasha, likewise because of her pending deportation, is especially disposed to throw caution to the wind.

Natasha and Daniel separate when Natasha fails to remonstrate successfully with the US Customs and Immigration office, and she must be deported. Nevertheless, the novel's final chapter portrays them meeting on a plane ten years later. The novel ends with Natasha greeting Daniel by name, revealing that she has not forgotten him.

The novel, while admittedly sentimental, is a lesson in fate and trust. Only when the protagonists (however ill-fated) find themselves ready to embrace their fate do they find true love.

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