Nicola Yoon’s 2016

The Sun is Also a Star has been adapted for the big screen and its themes feel more relevant than ever. JENNIFER McSHANE chats to the author.

Teens Daniel, a Korean-American, and Jamaican-born Natasha meet and fall in love in NYC, just as her family are set to be deported less than 24 hours later. But, like all great stories, love still blossoms even amidst unimaginab­le circumstan­ces. She’s a self-confessed science geek and he’s a romantic – a dreamer convinced he can win her skeptical heart before the day is out.

Three years after the book’s release, author Nicola Yoon agrees the current political climate gives the book a fresh relevance, but says its universal themes of dealing with immigratio­n, deportatio­n fate and cultural identity still hold strong. “If I was writing it again in 2019, I might have been more conscious of the politics of it, but at the time, I just wanted the two of them and a day in New York.”

Speaking of the role reversal of the two main leads, played in the film by Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton, Yoon says she was happy to switch expectatio­ns. “I know a lot of girls who are like me,” says Yoon, who majored in electrical engineerin­g. “In YA, we don’t normally see a lot of girls who are into science and math and aren’t so hooked on love, and I wanted to go against type.”

The initial spark for the story, she says, came from thinking how everything is connected, even in lives which move at such a frantic pace. “I wanted to explore that ripple effect; everything that pushed Natasha and Daniel together and say, look, you are connected to that stranger in the street whether you realise it or not. If you’re open to the world, that is what fate is.”

There are, she says, a lot of cultural touchstone­s in the book from her own life; Yoon is a Jamaican-born American and her husband is Korean-American, and she describes other similariti­es in her characters. “Myself and my husband are really incapable of having casual conversati­ons,” laughs Yoon. “So, there’s a lot of that in the book. And I have my own perspectiv­e feeling in between worlds, whereas my husband was born in America, so all that comes from a true place.”

The story told over differing mediums has its own rhythm and pace, depending on whether you’re reading or watching it on screen, but Yoon is thrilled that the heart of the book was captured in the movie. “The spirit of it is there, which is wonderful.” And what a spirit it is; full of heart, chance encounters with a few unexpected surprises added in.

Yoon’s standout moment? “The karaoke scene was always a favourite. Natasha is a terrible singer and it’s so well done on film.”

 ??  ?? The Sun is Also a Star is in Irish cinemas on August 9.
The Sun is Also a Star is in Irish cinemas on August 9.
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