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Monday, March 13, 2017

The Sun is Also a Star, and it Shines on True Love


Wiping the tears from my eyes as I closed the book, I realized that what I loved most about Nicola Yoon’s YA novel The Sun is Also a Star is its idealistic affirmation that soul-mates exist and that true love can form quickly. Maybe I’m biased because, like the main characters Natasha and Daniel, I fell in love with my partner in crime of almost 30 years within a day. I can only assume that Yoon has felt the power of such a deep connection herself due to her realistic description of this phenomenon.

As I read, I imagined how many people might react more skeptically or pessimistically to such a premise, but Yoon weaves science and poetry together to explain such an occurrence. Through Natasha’s perfectly scientific and quantifiable observations and Daniel’s poetic and hopelessly romantic approach to life, we learn that love can be defined by both chemistry and magic. Yoon incorporates recent studies that find that discussing deep thoughts, important concepts, and even secret experiences creates a strong bond in a short amount of time, as does staring into each other’s eyes. Throughout the years, when people have asked how I knew my husband was “the one” (to use an admittedly corny phrase) within days of meeting, I have always told them that we talked about important issues, not just the superficial, fun ideas that most dating couples discuss. I guess we were on to something that science is finally figuring out, and Yoon beautifully captures this experience in her novel.

Yoon’s writing style reflects a refreshing blend of prose accessible to youth and a maturity that proves satisfying for sophisticated adult readers. Her references to bands from my teen years – Soundgarden and Nirvana, for example – helped me remember those angsty teen years and connect to the characters. I tabbed several pages for use in my classroom with insight ranging from metaphysical poetry to profound observations of the parent-child relationship such as: “My father is shaped by the memory of things I will never know,” and “Who are we if not a product of our parents and their histories?”.

If all the talk about love isn’t a reader’s thing, how about the idea that each day, we alter the course of people’s lives in ways we will probably never know? The one driver who slows us down, so we curse them, but they might have saved us from a fatal accident down the road? What about the smile or the “thank you” we offer someone that might make that person reconsider suicide? Our fates are intricately intertwined, and we must make the most out of our interactions with others while always remembering that we have no idea what struggles they might be facing. I recommend reading this book and writing about various chance encounters that have altered the course of your life.

Note: Nicola Yoon’s novel Everything, Everything will soon be released as a motion picture in May, 2017. I am eager to read that novel before seeing the movie (although this generally backfires, as I love the book so much more than the film based on it). 

Special thanks to Mary Heffner for recommending this book to me!

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