The Sun is Also a Star

The Sun is Also a Star

The Sun is Also a Star Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Nicola Yoon's The Sun is Also a Star. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Nicola Yoon

Nicola Yoon was born in Jamaica in 1972 and grew up in both Jamaica and Brooklyn, New York. She received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University, though an elective creative writing class sparked an interest in writing. She attended a master's program at Emerson College for creative writing, though she spent twenty years as a programmer for investment firms. In 2015, Yoon published her first novel, Everything, Everything, after the birth of her daughter, who is biracial. Yoon’s husband, David, drew the illustrations for the novel. Yoon and her family have been very involved with the organization We Need Diverse Books, a group that works to increase and promote diversity and representation in literature. The Yoon family lives in Los Angeles, California.
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Historical Context of The Sun is Also a Star

Much of the legislation that guides Natasha's immigration experience was put into place with the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. The act added civil penalties, such as fines, for people who refuse to depart the US voluntarily, as well as increased the amount of time immigrants are ineligible for various forms of relief. Since the mid-2000s, the US has actually moved away from voluntary departure in favor of other forms of removal. Though the total number of immigrants who were removed and then returned have decreased since then, this shift has remained controversial as the total number of deportations actually rose. The New York Times article that Daniel mentions in the novel was part of the Modern Love column written by Daniel Jones. It was published in January of 2015 and, as Daniel explains, provides a brief overview of a study in which researchers developed a set of 36 questions intended to foster closeness and intimacy between research subjects. The 1997 study, The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness, was conducted by Arthur and Elaine Aron. Despite the success that Natasha and Daniel had using the questions, the Arons have been careful to note that within the parameters of their study, it's difficult or impossible to gauge whether or not strangers who use the questions actually begin or maintain romantic relationships, though it is true that two of their initial research subjects did marry.

Other Books Related to The Sun is Also a Star

Nicola Yoon has been very vocal about the need for literature, particularly young adult literature, that represents issues of diversity not as the problem (as in a novel like Becky Albertalli's Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, where the conflict revolves around a gay teen coming out), but that presents characters' diversity as fact, unproblematic, and not as what the main thrust of the novel is about. Yoon's first novel, Everything, Everything, falls into this category, and other books that the organization We Need Diverse Books promotes include Margarita Engle's Enchanted Air and Brandy Colbert's Little and Lion. As romantic young adult fiction, Yoon’s The Sun Is Also a Star shares a number of thematic similarities with novels by John Green (An Abundance of Katherines; The Fault in Our Stars), and it shares a narrative style very similar to the one that Rainbow Rowell uses in Eleanor and Park. The novel also mentions many poets, including Emily Dickenson, Warsan Shire, and Robert Frost, as well as Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun.
Key Facts about The Sun is Also a Star
  • Full Title: The Sun Is Also a Star
  • When Written: 2015
  • Where Written: Los Angeles, California
  • When Published: 2016
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Young Adult Romance
  • Setting: New York City, post-2015
  • Climax: Daniel admits he doesn't want to go to Yale, and Natasha discovers her family will be deported.
  • Antagonist: Both Natasha and Daniel's fathers are antagonist figures, and the reader understands that the attorney Jeremy Fitzgerald is an antagonist as well. In a more overarching sense, all the characters battle hopelessness and loneliness, as well as racism, poverty, and the US immigration system.
  • Point of View: First person and third-person omniscient

Extra Credit for The Sun is Also a Star

Political Poetry. Daniel's made-up dream job of being an "official poet" to world rulers isn't as far-fetched as Natasha thinks, and a number of similar jobs have existed throughout world history. Persian rulers often kept poets at their courts to write poems of praise or to record events in verse, and the poets were sometimes considered friends and companions of the rulers they served. Shakespeare's plays also served political purposes, while characters such as the fool in King Lear (and real-life "fools" and minstrels) were often poetically inclined entertainers.

Love and Science. The lead researchers and designers of the 36 questions, Arthur Aron and Elaine Aron, married in the late 1960s and have been married since. Arthur Aron's relationship and the lack of scientific study about love and relationships in the late 1960s inspired his life's work and eventually, his famous study.