The Sun Is Also A Star

The Sun Is Also A Star

Cover image of The Sun Is Also A Star
Cover image of The Sun Is Also A Star

Nicola Yoon has become one of those authors whose work I will automatically read whenever she releases a new title. Once again, I was completely swept away by her beautiful writing and her delightful characters.

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?” —Indiebound.org

Natasha and Daniel are two wonderful kids facing pressures that no one should have to face, much less people so young. Daniel contends daily with a hateful brother and the weight of all his parents’ expectations and regrets. Natasha goes head-to-head with the US government in an attempt to save her family from deportation. One fateful day brings them together, and oh, what a day it is. She’s brilliant, logical, and fierce, while he is romantic, thoughtful, and passionate. It’s difficult not to get sucked into their love story and hope that they find a way to be together.

Though it’s a work of fiction, and authors can do whatever they want with fiction, it’s hard for the reader to not be sucked in and believe in the concept of fate bringing lovers together. In this novel, one almost believes that destiny and true love are real. Time and again, Natasha and Daniel seem thrown together by forces larger than themselves, even when it seems other, darker forces are trying to keep them apart. Yoon’s ability to reawaken the child-like, starry-eyed belief in true love is uncanny. I’m a grown woman with a lot of experience and heartbreak under my belt, and Yoon makes me feel like anything is possible.

However, in the words of Shakespeare, the course of true love never did run smooth, and in addition to reducing me to a squealing, romantic teenager again, Yoon’s writing also held me in the grip of suspense as I wondered what would happen to Daniel and Natasha. After all, their love was up against a lot of really tough stuff. This novel simultaneously filled me with hope and dread. I wanted to reach the end, and yet I was terrified to reach the end.

Another thing that adds depth to the novel is when the author takes a step back from the main characters of the novel and provides short snippets of insight into minor supporting characters: the backgrounds of Natasha and Daniel’s parents, the secret desires of her immigration lawyer and his secretary, the reason Daniel’s brother is the way he is, etc. I loved these glimpses into the lives of some of the people that make up the kaleidoscope of New York City. I know they are fictional, but it gets the reader thinking about the people around them–those humans who are minor characters in your story, but are the main characters in their own.

I highly recommend this novel by an author who understands exactly how to yank at her readers’ heartstrings. Character, setting, and plot come together to ensure an unforgettable reading experience. You should also read Everything, Everything because that, too, is amazing!

Thanksgiving in Peru/My Thoughts About The Outsiders

Thanksgiving in Peru/My Thoughts About The Outsiders

As usual, I have been remiss in writing, especially about books. I am so caught up in the passive role of reader that I struggle to take an active role as writer. There is so much going on here in Peru that I often don’t have time or energy for either reading or writing. I live in an apartment full of people who know each other and who are all friends. There is always someone coming or going from the apartment, so solitary activities are often interrupted. Plus I don’t want to miss anything though I do often make the choice to stay home due to my introverted and quiet nature. Sometimes people are just too much.

Last night was Thanksgiving, and despite it being a lot of work and a lot of stress, it was such a delightful evening that I wish I could repeat it. Having taken on most of the work of planning and set-up along with one of my roommates, organizing a dinner for what ended up being about 23 people was a challenge, but one that I enjoyed very much. Everyone brought something to contribute, so we had plenty of food and drink. I managed to find some (rather unattractive) tablecloths, made a candle holder out of a large water bottle, and had candles and fresh-cut flowering vines on each table. The result was actually rather charming, and everyone seemed very happy with the atmosphere.

So much food on our buffet line!
So much food on our buffet line!
Drink cart
Drink cart
The main table with cloth, vines, and candles
The main table with cloth, vines, and candles
My fellow hostess and I with Ferdinand the turkey
My fellow hostess and I with Ferdinand the turkey
My friend Stacey and I
My friend Stacey and I
My table!
My table!
Guests enjoying the party
Guests enjoying the party
More
More
Candid of people having fun
Candid of people having fun

I remember looking around me once we cut the turkey and the party got truly started and feeling my heart fill with love and gratitude. There’s something immensely satisfying about watching people enjoy themselves when you’ve worked so hard to create something nice for them. We even invited several of our Peruvian friends to share our feast with us, and it was nice to share a piece of our culture with them, as they have been so accommodating in sharing theirs with us. The party lasted long into the night, I ate and drank entirely too much, but I couldn’t have asked for a nicer evening. Though I was sad being away from family and friends and most things “traditional” at Thanksgiving, I think the novelty of spending the holiday in a new place, as well as the sweat of my labor that helped make it a success, made this my favorite Thanksgiving yet. I hope my family won’t take offense to that! I do hope to spend the holiday with you guys again next year, and I can’t wait for Christmas!

The Outsiders
The Outsiders

Now, as for my reading list, I’ve racked up quite a few titles in between this post and my last. I read The Outsiders almost entirely on my train ride back to Cusco from Machu Picchu, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I couldn’t put it down. Despite its reputation as an excellent novel, I’d never been tremendously interested in it. I found it in a tiny used bookstore in Cusco and I wanted to give them some business so I bought it (and actually gave it back to them without asking for a refund so they could sell it again–gotta support local bookstores, no matter where you find them!).

The story, for those living under a rock or in stubbornness, like me, is a coming-of-age tale about a young greaser who gets in just a little over his head. There’s a surprising amount of tragedy for such a small volume, and for all its simple and dated language, it packs a powerful punch. I believe my favorite part is the relationship Ponyboy has with his brothers. While I have an amicable and loving relationship with my siblings, the brothers in this book are all alone in the world and rely on each other for everything. They have their moments of disliking each other, but the love between them runs swift and deep. Perhaps my least favorite part was that I was never able to suspend my disbelief. It had an almost fable-like quality to it with its narrow misses, its loose ends neatly tied up at the end, and the “aw shucks” moments in which all the boys learn a valuable life lesson. Still, it’s a good little book and I definitely recommend it for those who have not read it yet. It’s only the reading of an afternoon–it takes very little time at all, so read it between two greater works of writing.

Thanks for reading! I’ll be flying to Texas on Tuesday and I am not working while I’m there, so I will hopefully get more writing done and have more updates and book reviews for you guys!