I’ll admit, I picked up this book believing that Nicola Yoon was a young Korean woman. The name seemed like a dead giveaway, but I took another look. What I found was a story with more power than a simple love story.
Synopsis (from Goodreads.com)
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?
Rating: 4/5 Stars
I think I should say right off the bat that I wasn’t a huge fan of the love story between the two characters, Natasha and Daniel. It was insta-love, which I’m usually fine with but something about it in this novel really made me not like it. I think it’s because while set in the middle of two teens falling in love, it didn’t feel like a love story.
The interesting parts of the novel was hearing that Daniel, one of the main characters, was Korean American from Flushing and struggling with telling his parents about his true identity. To give you some background, I also had a moment when I was a teen where I was on the track to become a doctor but what I really wanted to do was become a writer. “You can write when you’re a doctor,” my mom would tell me. It wasn’t until I had a very serious conversation with her that she relented to live my dream. Sadly, writing didn’t work out for me, but I would also say that being a doctor wouldn’t have worked out for me either. You see, I hate the sight of blood.
As I was reading this book, I felt a kinship to Daniel. He was living the same life I found myself in. However, I also felt a kinship with Natasha. While I was born in America, my parents are immigrants and perhaps I may/may not have some relatives that are undocumented citizens in America. I listen to my parents’ stories of them and how even though they want to go to college, they can’t. To go to college would risk being found out and eventually deported. Knowing people who are dealing with that kind of struggle makes this entire book strike me in so many ways.
I connected with a fellow book blogger who was almost the Natasha to my Daniel. We bonded because of our shared beliefs and struggles and that’s what diverse reads should do. Diverse reads should open up conversation with different people and cultures. You open your eyes to how people live their lives and what you learn is that the other half doesn’t have it as easy as you believe.
Yeah, love is great and reading about love is always a treat for me, but reading about the perseverance of two young people in the circumstances they’re in makes me so happy. Books like this are super important and while love isn’t always that easy, diversity is!