Author Nicola Yoon is on a roll. Last year she made waves with her fan-favorite — and #1 New York Times bestselling — YA novel, Everything, Everything, and this year her newest book, The Sun Is Also a Star, was selected as a 2016 National Book Award Finalist. We were thrilled to ask Nicola about The Sun Is Also a Star, a beautiful journey through a pivotal day in the life of two teens, Natasha and Daniel.
For Natasha, a no-nonsense, science-loving gal, the day offers one last chance to keep her family from being deported to Jamaica. Daniel, a romantic-at-heart on his parents’ fast-track to Yale and becoming a doctor, loves writing poetry more than anything else, but feels he’ll have no opportunity to pursue his passion. When Natasha and Daniel unexpectedly meet and choose to spend the day with each other, they find their lives becoming inexplicably intertwined in ways they could never have foreseen.
Interconnectedness is a theme throughout The Sun Is Also a Star — people are connected by words, actions, and simply by being in the same place at the same time. Can you talk a little bit about this theme? Why is it important to you?
The theme is important to me because in our modern era it’s so easy to feel disconnected from each other. Our lives are sometimes so busy that it’s hard to stop and pay attention. If we did have the time to slow down, I think we would notice the million little interactions that shape and affect our day. It can be something as little as going into Starbucks and maybe the barista compliments you on your tie. That little compliment brightens your day so much that you smile and hold the door open for the woman who’d been having a bad day. Ordinarily, she would never make eye contact with a stranger, but today she does with you. A smile leads to coffee (at that same Starbucks), leads to a date, leads to another date, leads eventually to a love that wasn’t in the world before.
Speaking of love, Daniel is a romantic dreamer while Natasha believes resolutely in science, above all. Do you relate to one character over another when it comes to the concepts of fate and love?
I really relate to both characters. In some ways, they are just different aspects of my own personality. I think one of the fundamental human instincts is to search for truths — about the world and about ourselves. In this way, the scientists and the poets are not so far apart. It’s just the method that’s different.
Daniel feels immense pressure to figure out his entire life at a young age. What kind of message would you like to send to young readers who might feel the same way?
I think we put a lot of pressure on teenagers to specialize at an early age. We say things like she’s not good at math, but she’s good at writing. We tell them (and ourselves) that we’re either right- or left-brained. In truth, I think we are all both. To young readers I would say: Keep an open mind. Be all the things you want to be. Don’t put yourself into a box.
Natasha and Daniel pick very different karaoke songs when they go to a noraebang. What’s your go-to karaoke song?
“Making Love out of Nothing at All” by Air Supply because I am just that cheesy. 🙂
Love the artwork on the cover of The Sun Is Also a Star? We’ve got some great news for you: You can enter to win a customized string art piece by cover artist Dominique Falls for your home! Just go to thesunisalsoastar.com before December 1, 2016 to enter to win.
Learn more about how Dominique Falla created the beautiful cover image — which took 3,000 nails, 164 feet of string, and 120 hours to make! — in this video: