“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”
The Sun Is Also a Star opens with astrophysicist Carl Sagan’s most famous rumination on dessert, but in doing so the first lines perfectly encapsulate just what it is that Nicola Yoon has been able to do in just her second outing as an author: create a whole universe of random, yet interrelated events to tell what is at it’s heart, a love story between two teens.
The couple in question is Natasha, a scientist-in-training who is in the process of being deported back to Jamaica, and Daniel, a would-be-poet following his Korean parents’ wishes to become a doctor despite his own dreams. The National Book Award-nominated novel tracks everything that happens between the pair on what is Natasha’s last day in the city, and possibly with each other. But in doing so, it also includes glimpse into the lives of all the people they interact with—no matter how tangential—over the course of their time together.
And this is where the real strength of Yoon’s storytelling lies. She lays bare the hopes, dreams and regrets of everyone from family members to complete strangers, while simultaneously offering brief lessons on etymology, physics, and a variety of other subjects. The result is a book that is very much about the many factors that affect falling in love, as much as it is about the very act itself.
Fans of Yoon’s first novel, Everything Everything, will find much to love—if not, more—in what is easily an even stronger follow up.