Nicola Yoon caught our attention with her first novel, Everything, Everything. Since then, that novel has been purchased by MGM and is currently in production as a major motion picture starring the newly minted Queen of YA, Amandla Stenberg as Maddie. We received an advanced copy of this novel from the publisher and review it after the jump.
The Sun is Also A Star
From the book flap:
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?
Overall: Have you ever seen the classic 90’s film Before Sunrise comparison starring a handsomely boyish Ethan Hawke and the French lovely, Julie Delpy? If you have’t, a little background: On his last night before leaving Vienna, American Jesse meets Celine, a resident of the city. They end up walk walking through the city philosophizing, flirting and both the sites and each other. It the quintessential 90’s tale of one night fling that tantalizes viewers who just want Jesse + Celine forever!
I begin with this reference because I couldn’t help but think about this film as I read Natasha and Daniel’s story. There are many similarities in the overarching story. There’s a meet-cute and then there’s New York City as the background to their conversation. The biggest difference is that the timeline is set with Natasha’s deportation, which Daniel knows nothing about. To put it lightly, the topic of illegal immigration and deportation in the United States, let alone the world, is contentious. However, Yoon humanizes and personalizes the experience.
The second biggest difference is that neither of the main characters is this novel are white. The diversity reflected in this novel is incredible. A Korean boy and a black girl, who also happens to be an illegal immigrant about to be deported, struggle with both internal and external factors in their lives.
“Carl Sagan says that if you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”
And finally, saving the best for last, there is the universe that Nicola so expertly creates in this novel using a unique mix of flashbacks and flash forwards at unpredictable intervals throughout this novel. Contemporary YA rarely creates an environment so fully outside its main characters, which is what makes this novel stand out. Nicola makes not bones about her intentions with this novel. From her beautiful opening forward that she’s presenting a book about two people and everything it takes and has taken to create them at this moment in time, you are gripped by what’s about to take place. It’s clever concept perfectly executed that creates compassion, empathy without a heavy hand or a learning lesson. This book had me laughing, crying, shipping, screaming and then holding myself together and it will do the same for you.
Judge a Book by its Cover: I think the cover is gorgeous, as is. It struck me as so unique and color, much like the Everything, Everything cover did. But when I discovered how much work went into creating this photograph (that’s right!!), I loved it even more. Seriously, someone made this cover and I hope this is hanging in Nicola’s office:
Audiobook Narration: Read by Bahni Turpin, Raymond Lee, Dominic Hoffman, the reader in this sample sounds a litter older than Natasha’s voice in my head, but I wouldn’t rule her out as a viable reader.
Me Talk Pretty One Day: Yet again, Nicola Yoon gives us gorgeous, precise writing that envelops us in the arc of the story. We received an advanced copy to review, but here are some beautiful quotes from the publisher.
Don’t Believe the Hype: Nicola Yoon has proven with both her books that she is an auto-buy author. I challenge you to pick up one of her books and NOT think the same.
Open tab/Last call: She may surprise us, but Nicola’s next scheduled release is a contribution to the Because You Love to Hate Me anthology. Maybe we can meet and discuss any secret projects we don’t know about at any little bar in a secret corner of New York you pick.
The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon, Delacorte Press, 384 pages, Expected release date November 1, 2017.