After Sebastian and Rain get a few things out of their system, they talk about The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon. Teenagers, romance, fate, and all that stuff.
Rain: We’ve read so many books recently that we haven’t talked about that I don’t know where to start.
Sebastian: Whose fault is that?
Rain: Hey! I wanted to blog.
Sebastian: You were so pleased with yourself having blogged twice a week for a year that you let your personal problems get in the way.
Rain: So did you. Though I can’t take all the credit for those posts–more of them were Alecia than us.
Alecia: Thanks, Rain. And it wasn’t always easy.
Sebastian: Excuses. But I vote today we talk about The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon. I bet you loved it, didn’t you?
Rain: Why would you assume that? Just because it’s a young adult romance?
Sebastian: Well, it had a lot of short words.
Rain: It had the right number of short words. I actually thought it was pretty well written, though I confess near the start I almost put it down in disgust.
Sebastian: Why was that?
Rain: You know, whiney teenage problems. How could my boyfriend cheat on me? Wah!
Sebastian: I thought that was realistic. Teenagers are often like that.
Rain: I don’t want my books to be exactly like reality or they’d be total snoozes. It’s like, you know how teenagers often have these little problems that they think are the most important thing in the world, but then adults roll their eyes and wish all their problems were that insignificant? The whole book felt a bit like that.
Sebastian: The problems were important to the characters, and getting deported is hardly a minor thing.
Rain: You’re right, that part had more weight. It was most of the reason I kept reading–to find out if Natasha would get to stay in the US. But the rest of it?
Sebastian: I don’t think it matters if the problems in books aren’t “kill the evil lord and save the world”. Individuals’ problems do matter.
Rain: So then why didn’t you like the book?
Sebastian: It’s not so much that I didn’t like it. As you say, it was well written and ambitious. Much as I hate to say it, it ticked boxes for diversity–a poor family, a Korean-American family, a Jamaican family–and it had that strong thread of fate, how small actions can have far-reaching consequences, and destiny…
Sebastian: The whole fate thing was so heavy-handed. You know how they say the characters shouldn’t speak the theme of a book, it should come out through their actions?
Rain: “They” say all kinds of rubbish.
Sebastian: Books like this are why they say that. The characters hardly seemed to talk about anything else.
Rain: It is aimed at a YA audience. Maybe the readers wouldn’t get the point if it weren’t spelled out to them.
Sebastian: Young adult readers aren’t idiots.
Rain: Some of them are. But so are some adults. What did you think of the ending?
Sebastian: I think it would have been better without the last chapter or so. Fate is one thing, but really?
Rain: I didn’t like the ending either. But you know what I liked even less?
Sebastian: This is going to be something stupid, isn’t it?
Rain: No more stupid than your things. I didn’t like the episode with the guy smoking. Smokers know it’s bad for them. They’re sick to death of people, however earnest–and especially strangers–of telling them they should quit. No smoker I ever met is going to be like, “Wow, a stranger just told me I should quit smoking. And there was something about her, so I’m going to do it and turn my life around. Oh, and I’m going to break the rules so she can make out with her boyfriend on the roof.”
Sebastian: How do you know they wouldn’t?
Rain goes red.
Rain: That person telling smokers to quit used to be me. I don’t do that any more.
Sebastian: You used to be quite a prat, didn’t you?
Rain: You still are.
Have you read The Sun is Also a Star? Are Sebastian and Rain missing the entire point?
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