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Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Sun Is Also A Star, written by Nicola Yoon. Doubleday Canada, Random House. 2016. $21.99 ages 12 and up

"When they say the heart wants what it wants, they're talking about the poetic heart - the heart of love songs and soliloquies, the one that can break as if it were just-formed glass. They're not talking about the real heart, the one that only needs healthy foods and aerobic exercise. But the poetic heart is not to be trusted. It is fickle and will lead you astray. It will tell you all you need is love and dreams."

I wonder if a sophomore book causes its author as much worry and concern as a sophomore CD. When the first is as successful, and as star-reviewed as Everything Everything (Doubleday, 2015), it must give one pause. Nicola Yoon need not have worried at all, if she even thought about it. She proves her writing prowess with this follow-up novel. I was hooked from its first page!

Natasha does not believe in fate. Daniel does. Natasha does not believe in love at first sight. Daniel does. Natasha believes in science, the facts that rule the world. In fact, her family is facing deportation back to Jamaica on the very day she meets Daniel. They are undocumented, discovered and there seems little can be done to keep them in the United States. Daniel is a poet, whose Korean immigrant parents insist that he become a doctor. When they meet, Natasha is resistant while Daniel feels it is their destiny.

Their story is told in two first person voices. Daniel is so desperate to convince Natasha that they are meant to be, he uses a scientific list to help it happen. Natasha is distracted by her family's desperate situation and with trying to find a way to resolve it. What good would it do to fall for a romantic dreamer? There is no future in it.

There are digressions from the two perspectives, and they are quite wonderfully presented. Here is a part of one of them:

"four minutes
  A History of Love

Daniel sets his phone timer for four minutes and
takes both Natasha's hands in his. Are they supposed to hold
hands during this part of the experiment? He's not sure.
According to the study, this is the final step in falling in love.
What happens if you're already in love?

At first they both feel pretty silly. Natasha wants to say aloud
that this is too goofy. Helpless, almost embarrassed smiles
overtake their faces. Natasha looks away, but Daniel squeezes
her hands. Stay with me is what he means."

Have I tempted you to find a copy, and discover their story for yourself? I hope so. Nicola Yoon is a gifted wordsmith, whose story is certainly romantic. It also takes a close look at family, immigration and the ways in which certain events in our lives seem serendipitous. It explores life with its many blemishes, and offers a ray of hope for both optimists and pessimists among us.

You should read it!

Meant to be doesn’t have to mean forever.”

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