The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

Natasha is a Jamaican born illegal immigrant facing deportation because of the mistakes of her father. Her family may be resigned to leaving New York, but Natasha is willing to fight tooth and nail to stay in the only home she knows. Daniel is an American citizen born to South Korean immigrant parents. He is balancing the weight of his parents’ expectations and demands while having dreams and ideas far different of those of his parents. Both teens are struggling with what they want from life and the direction in which life seems to be pushing them. Daniel is a strong believer in love at first sight, that love can overcome anything, but Natasha knows love is only governed by chemicals and science and has no place in her life. After their first fateful meeting Daniel is determined to have Natasha fall in love with him, scientifically using a list of questions thought to create love. But even if Daniel’s plan works, how can love stand against the wills of their parents, federal deportation laws, and the casual racism of the world? Daniel and Natasha discuss issues that they have never told anyone before and form a bond that will test fate—if you believe in it. Set in New York City and told over the course of one day, The Sun is also a Star exhibits themes of family duty and dynamics, immigration and deportation, love, racism, goals and ambitions, and fate vs. choice.

Discussion questions from State Library of Louisiana:

1. What is the significance of Natasha’s headphones? Why is she so attached to them? 

2. Describe Daniel’s relationship with Charlie. How does this relationship change over the course of their childhoods? How does this relationship change over the course of the novel? 

3. How is the concept of home characterized over the course of the story? 

4. How does the prologue relate to the themes and structure of this book? How would the story change if the prologue was not included? 

5. How do the side characters’ stories shape the plot of this novel? Use specific examples from the text. 

6. Daniel believed in fate. Natasha did not. Are you more like Daniel or Natasha? Using examples from the book, explain how you are alike. 

7. Do you think the main characters were in love? What does it take to love someone? Find evidence from the book that validates your answer. 

8. Does Natasha deserve to go home? Why or why not? Use examples from the book to explain your answer. 

9. Who is the antagonist? Explain why you think so using examples from the book. 

10. It takes most of the book before we fully learn about the situation surrounding the Kingsley’s deportation. What do the partial explanations reveal about Natasha and Samuel’s relationship? How does the final reveal shift Natasha’s character? Use specific examples from the text. 

11. Are Natasha’s father’s life decisions and actions entirely wrong? What are his faults? Does he have any redeeming qualities? 

12. How do Natasha and Daniel’s parents’ histories affect the ways they interact with their children? 

13. In your opinion who has ‘better’ parents, Natasha or Daniel? Provide specific evidence to back up your argument. 

14. Do you agree or disagree with Daniel’s parents’ actions and ideas? Why or why not? Use examples from the book to explain your answer. 

15. Daniel’s and Natasha’s parents are chasing the American Dream. What is the American Dream? Is it possible to achieve it? Did any of the characters achieve it? 

16. Nicola Yoon uses many different narrators over the course of the book; how do these various narrators change the story being told? How would the story change if it were only narrated by either Natasha or Daniel? 

17.Reference the different types of stereotypes, racism, or prejudices in the story. How are these instances important to the story? How do they affect the characters? 

18. How does Natasha view the relationship between science and love at the beginning of the book? How does her viewpoint change? 

19. Explain the roles of science and the arts in the story. Use examples from the book to examine the association between the parents’ love of the arts (acting, painting etc.) and Daniel and Natasha’s science related professions.

Activities from State Library of Louisiana

1.Instruct the students to read and print out a news article regarding current immigration issues. This can be done at home or during class time at a computer lab. Line the students up in two rows facing each other. Set a timer for 2-3 minutes and instruct the students to discuss each of their articles, highlighting the main idea and the most important points. Once the time is up, one of the rows rotates so each student has a new partner. Repeat the process as many times as needed so that everyone has discussed their articles.

2. The idea of poetry runs through The Sun is Also a Star in several different ways. After discussing the major ideas of the work such as family, home, fate, and love, read Emily Dickinson’s poem “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers – (314).” Have students compose 5 their own poem on one of the major ideas of The Sun is Also a Star in the style of Emily Dickinson. Allow them to share their works if they so choose.