***MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!! Read the spoiler free review for this book here!***
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Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: 5/5 doughnuts
Summary: Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?
Plot and Writing: I’m in love with how the plot of this story plays out. It takes place over the span of a day yet so much happens and we learn so much about all of the characters and the events that lead up to this day. I love the way Nicola wrote this story. I went into the story thinking that we would only be reading from Natasha and Daniel’s perspectives. It is written in their first person perspectives, however we also read, from a third person perspective, about many of the people that Natasha and Daniel interact with such as their parents, Irene, and even the subway conductor. There are also excerpts in which different topics such as hair, love, multiverses are discussed. These excerpts are one of my favorite aspects of the book because they take us outside of the story for a moment while still flowing seamlessly with the plot, and I learned something from each of them. I really related to the hair excerpts as they addressed a lot of my own personal experiences and they answered some questions that I have asked myself over the years.
Characters: Just like is the case for The Hate U Give (find my spoilery review and discussion for this book here), I personally feel that almost every character in this story, major and minor, brought some significance to the story, but here I’ll focus on those that I think are the most notable.
Natasha: I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen myself so clearly in a book until Natasha. Our personalities are pretty different but outside of that, we share a lot of similarities. Our families are both from the Caribbean. I wasn’t born in Haiti like Natasha was born in Jamaica, but my parents are immigrants like hers, and some aspects of the culture and family dynamics are similar.
Daniel: I love Daniel so much! I love how much of a hopeless romantic he is. I related to him more than I expected. Like him, I was born in America, but my parents are immigrants. I related to how he grew up finding a balance between both cultures. It made me sad to see how much he wanted to have a decent relationship with his brother Charlie, and how little Charlie cared to want the same. One thing I realized after reading the book is that as much as Daniel talked about loving and writing poetry, I don’t recall any of his poetry featured in the book and I would have liked to see that.
Patricia Kingsley: We didn’t get to know Natasha’s mom as much as we did her dad, but I really admired how hard she seemed to work to support her family. It seems that the more time that the family spent living in America, the less supportive she became of her husband, but I wasn’t even mad about it. I feel that maybe she could have been a little more supportive about the play he landed, but in general, I feel that Samuel hadn’t put any effort in before that play, so I can understand that Patricia was just fed up with him at that point.
Samuel Kingsley: Natasha’s father. This man just needed to do better and thankfully, Natasha told him as much. He wanted to be a successful broadway actor and the fact that he blamed his family for his lack of success was mind blowing to me, because a majority of the time, he wasn’t even trying. He was making no efforts so I just don’t even know what his family had to do with it considering his wife worked to support the family so he could reach his goals, and his kids were being…well kids? But I digress.
Min Soo Bae: There’s not too much interaction with Daniel’s mom in this story but we do know that Daniel gets his creativity from her. I also got the impression that she is more warm, open, and loving to her children than her husband and Daniel’s future, she would be more supportive of Daniel’s own wants and dreams.
Dae Hyun Bae: Daniel’s father like Natasha’s, needs to do better. He is racist and his interaction with Natasha in which he hands her a box of perm and tells her that her hair is too big, is unfortunately similar to an experience I’ve had before. I feel that as a father, he (for the most part) has his children’s best interests at heart. I understand that he wants them to live a better life than he has and why he thinks that them being doctors will give them that. I don’t think however, that his preference that his children not date outside of their own race, has anything to do with what he thinks is best. I think it is purely about his own biases and racist ideas, and I’m not here for that. Unfortunately this is reality for some people.
Charlie: Charlie is the worst. He’s a terrible brother to Daniel and he’s flatout disrespectful to his parents. The book describes that he does one good thing for his brother by giving Daniel’s number to Natasha when she needed it, but I honestly don’t think that he did that was a purely selfless thing. I think that he new Daniel’s relationship with Natasha would be a problem for his parent’s and that it would get his parents off his back for a bit. He’s just not a god person.
Attorney Jeremy Fitzgerald: Homeboy had one job and he screwed it up. I understand he had things going on in his personal life, which I won’t get into here, but it really could have waited and had it waited, he could have been the one chance at keeping Natasha and her family from being deported.
Irene: Oh Irene. Her perspective was the first one that wasn’t Natasha or Daniel’s, and it threw me. It was here when I realized that this story was going to be about more than just Daniel and Natasha and I realized that it wasn’t going to necessarily be a light and fluffy contemporary. I love how Irene is the person who made Natasha and Daniel’s story come full circle. Natasha makes it a point to thank Irene because of the role she played in their meeting, though irene never knows why Natasha thanks her. Natasha’s reaching out to her is what pushes her to decide not to commit suicide and to seek help. In the epilogue we learn that Irene has a new job as a flight attendant and it is this job that leads her to meeting Natasha again and what causes Natasha and Daniel to reunite. Full. Freaking. Circle. ❤
Overall Thoughts: This book was amazing! I loved it so much and it was nothing like I expected it to be. After reading Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon (you can check out our spoiler free and spoilery book/adaptation review and discussion), I expected this story to be light and for the main focus to be the love story. Boy was I in for a surprise. Nicola takes on some pretty serious issues in this story such as immigration, race and racism, class and culture, suicidal thoughts, family dynamics and more. Of course the romance is a big part of the story but it isn’t the main overwhelming aspect of the story. Unlike was the case with Everything Everything I LOOOOOOVVVEEEEEEEDDD the way this story ended. Even though I was really sad that Natasha and her family are deported, I would have been fine if the story had ended there. Then Nicola came at me with that epilogue and I truly wasn’t ready because: Irene goes on to do a job that makes her happy and that job leads her to meeting Natasha again and thanking her and then Daniel is there too and then he hears them talking and then Natasha and Daniel are reunited and OH MY GOD MY HEART!! This book is easily one of my favorite reads of 2017 and is definitely one of my favorite contemporaries of all time. Thank you Nicola, you beautiful human-creature, for this beautiful story.
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