Interracial Love and Micro-Aggressions in The Sun Is Also A Star

“I didn’t know you this morning, and now I don’t remember not knowing you” 

Nicola Yoon, The Sun Is Also A Star

I first heard about The Sun Is Also a Star about one year ago after having read Nicola Yoon’s other novel, Everything, Everything. Flash forward to last week, I saw a trailer for the movie adaptation starring Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton. Admittedly, I raced to get through the book after seeing the trailer because I wanted to read it before seeing the film adaptation. The Sun Is Also A Star takes place on a date that is significant in the lives of both the main characters; Daniel Bae has a college interview for Yale University, while Natasha Kingsley is spending her last day in NYC before she is going to be deported. After a chance encounter, the pair spark up a conversation. Daniel boldly asserts that he can get Natasha to fall in love with him in just one day. What follows is a sweet and dramatic romance that blossoms in the backdrop of New York City. There are elements of this book that I really enjoyed, however this book was a little too cheesy for me (as I might have suspected with a YA romance). If you are a hopeless romantic, if you believe in “fate” and dream about grand romantic gestures then you will like this story. If you don’t want the plot spoiled for you then please read with caution. While I don’t reveal the entire storyline, I will go into detail about specific scenes and central themes.

Yoon uses the fun and free-spirited romance plot to discuss real issues that interracial and minority couples face. There are some really interesting examples of every day micro-aggressions that minorities in the United States regularly deal with. In one scene, Natasha is shamed for her natural curls, and she is told to buy relaxer to make it “prettier”. Even when they are holding hands walking down the street, Natasha admits that she feels embarrassed because people are staring at them. She knows the reason is because they are not the same race. I love that Yoon interjects micro-aggressions throughout the story because it is such an important aspect of interracial relationships that are not often discussed. Hopefully, readers can learn from the experiences of Daniel and Natasha. Their perspectives shed light on every day slights that minorities experience that I wasn’t actively aware of as a white woman. Yoon features the hardships but also the love in an interracial couple where neither of the lead characters are white. Now, a young girl or boy will get to see two underrepresented groups featured in a novel (and on the big screen) where the central theme is love and fate.

The novel depicts the emotional and legal struggles of a young girl living in the United States who is about to be deported. Natasha’s story is a great demonstration of what it means to be an undocumented immigrant. From the story, you get some background information on how Natasha’s family moved to the United States and why. You learn about the family’s financial struggles. Lastly, you learn about the unfortunate series of events leading to their deportation. We even get some insight on Natasha and her family’s experience with lawyers, the government, and police. Natasha was only eight when she left Jamaica. Her whole life, her friendships and relationships, and her future are in New York City, not Jamaica. Personally, I have been trying to make an effort to read fiction and nonfiction stories about immigration because it is something that I do not have firsthand experience with (that being said, if you have any recommendations for me that would be greatly appreciated). Stories like Natasha’s need to be shared because it humanizes and de-stigmatizes the word “immigrant”. If you want to begin learning about immigration in the United States I find that novels are a great resource to start. This way, you can understand the emotional toll that it takes to even try to become a US citizen.

While the romance is sweet, Daniel and Natasha’s whirlwind romance was unrealistic. The couple’s dynamics show that Daniel is the hopeless romantic while Natasha is a skeptic. If these two individuals were real, Natasha probably would have thought Daniel was way too over-the-top. I think she may have even found him to be downright creepy. He follows her after first seeing her on the street, he pretentiously asserts that she will “fall in love” with him after one day, and he himself says “I love you” mere hours after they first meet. If it were me in her situation, I would have literally run away from him. Yoon was attempting to create a male romantic lead that women would swoon over, but, in the process, she made a character that is very corny. I could relate to Natasha’s character so much more than Daniel’s, but I found her dramatic change of heart unlikely, especially considering their entire relationship takes course over a single day. I also feel the need to mention that Natasha and Daniel seem to get an endlessly long day where they get on and off the subway and bounce around New York City. They somehow both go to the important meetings that they need to go to and they have time to go to a record shop, stop at Daniel’s father’s store, go to a Korean place for lunch and norebang (Korean karaoke), spend some time talking on a rooftop, go to Natasha’s house in Brooklyn, among other things. I know I’m overthinking it, but how did they accomplish all of this in one day?

Regardless of my nit-picky criticisms, there is definitely a community of readers that loved Yoon’s second novel. You will love this book if you enjoyed titles such as Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, or Every Day by David Levithan. It is a fun, sweet, and easy read. If you’re looking for something to read during your early-morning commute or on your day trip to the beach this summer, then this might be the book you’re looking for.

You can purchase the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or from the Penguin Random House website, but here is a link to buy the book from an independent book store based in LA: https://www.vromansbookstore.com/book/9780553496680

Here is the link if you are interested in watching the movie trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3On0BXzGnuI

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