by Nicola Yoon
Published November 1st 2016
“Some people exist in your life to make it better. Some people exist to make it worse.”
This was a perfectly balanced book and such an improvement from Everything, Everything. Nicola Yoon outdid herself in this one. To be honest though, I was told beforehand that I would like it better than her previous book and it turned out to be true. Let me start by saying that this book is not any less cheesy or cliché like than the other one but at least some parts made it stand out than others in this genre.
“The trouble with getting your hopes too far up is: it’s a long way down.”
I have come to associate Nicola Yoon’s work with diversity. I have to say it’s very rare to come across books that mainly surround minority characters. Both main characters in this book are from minority groups and the supporting characters are a mix of everything. I think that’s the main thing that made me want to read this book even after feeling let down by the first one.
“Growing up and seeing your parents’ flaws is like losing your religion. I don’t believe in God anymore. I don’t believe in my father either.”
Natasha Kingsley and her family only have twelve hours left before they are deported back to Jamaica. But that is the last thing she wants. Her whole life is in the United States, she had plans she cannot fulfill if she goes back to Jamaica. She doesn’t know anyone there apart from the family members she left behind when she was eight years old. She decides to take matter into her own hands by visiting the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to find someone who can let them stay even if she is the only one who will get to stay so that she doesn’t have to pay for her father’s irresponsible mistake.
“We are capable of big lives. A big history. Why settle? Why choose the practical thing, the mundane thing? We are born to dream and make the things we dream about.”
Daniel Jae Ho Bae has his path chosen for him. Not taking the path would be considered an insult to his father and so on this day he has his alumni admission interview with Yale. He is not enthusiastic about it because all he wants to be in life is a poet. Because of the interview, he is allowed to skip school so that he can be ready for it and so he decides to go out and get a haircut rather than stay at home.
“There’s a Japanese phrase that I like: koi no yokan. It doesn’t mean love at first sight. It’s closer to love at second sight. It’s the feeling when you meet someone that you’re going to fall in love with them. Maybe you don’t love them right away, but it’s inevitable that you will.”
Natasha and Daniel meet and keep on meeting throughout the day. Daniel believes its fate but Natasha does not believe in anything that does not have a scientific explanation. This only makes Daniel want to prove her wrong and so he asks for a day just to do that. That’s the cheesy part. But what he doesn’t know yet is that his belief in fate will not work out since she is being deported in a few hours. Natasha does not bother to let him know about it.
“I don’t believe in love.”
“It’s not a religion,” he says. “It exists whether you believe in it or not.”
The issue of race comes up a few times when Daniel is reminded that he cannot end up with a black girl. He is Korean and the parents believe that he should be a doctor and marry a good Korean American girl. This does not stop him from pursuing Natasha who is Jamaican. There is also the issues faced by immigrants in a foreign country especially if they are illegal immigrants. The need to pay for a good social security number so that you can be able to get by in the society. The struggle to keep a job that can sustain you and your family without being found out and the need to stay undercover.
“Do you think it’s funny that both of our favorite memories are about the people we like the least now?” I ask.
“Maybe that’s why we dislike them,” she says. “The distance between who they were and who they are is so wide, we have no hope of getting them back.”
The ripple effect of the father’s mistake that came to destroy Natasha’s family. His choice to move to America and move them there without the right documents. His one mistake that could rob his children of the only home they have ever known.
“Human beings are not reasonable creatures. Instead of being rule by logic, we are ruled by emotions. The world would be a happier place if the opposite were true.”
This story was about more than just Natasha and Daniel. A lot of other issues are brought to light and I loved it. The ending was also so much better than what I expected. And I had a couple of issues with some parts but I won’t get into that. Just read it.