Sometimes I need to mention a book twice, in part because it is so well done, but also because it has some connection to a more recent book. The connection this time is that Nicola Yoon on her second start out the gate, has produced another winner of a book. The second book is very intriguing, though a bit difficult to get into. I got confused about who belonged to which family, but soon understood their relationships.
The first book, Everything Everything, came out in 2015 to deserved rave reviews and I’m sure this second book will also jump to the head of the list.
Illustrated by Daniel Yoon
Madeline Whittier is sure she’s read more books than anybody else on the planet. What else can she do in her white room in her sterile house? She can’t leave her house since she’s allergic to the outside world. Her only physical visitors are her nurse, Carla, her mother and just one of her tutors. At seventeen, she has accepted her life. But things change in Maddie’s soul when Oliver—Olly—moves in next door, with his rebellious younger sister, enabling mother, and abusive, alcoholic father. Olly sees Maddie at her window watching him and starts communication through sign language, pantomime, notes and eventually their electronic devices. It doesn’t hurt that he’s drop-dead gorgeous and compassionate. As their relationship deepens, Maddie wishes to meet Olly in the flesh, though she knows they may never have physical contact. Carla arranges everything while Maddie’s mom, a doctor, is at work. The reader matures along with Maddie and begins to wonder where her quality of life is? Secretly she arranges a trip to Hawaii with Olly. Olly is resistant at first, but Maddie, now eighteen, feels she can make her own choices. She does get sick on their trip and ends up in the hospital with an infection in her heart. But she doesn’t die and comes home stronger than she ever thought possible. The Hawaiian pathologist sends her a letter informing Maddie that there is no sign of disease. So Maddie goes to a specialist who confirms that Maddie is not sick. Turns out her mother, after losing Maddie’s father and brother in a car accident, can’t deal with the thought of losing her daughter. She made Maddie’s illness up. Now the girl has to deal with the aftermath of this revelation. This is a fantastic read.
BIBLIO: 2015, Delacorte Books/Random House Teens/ Random House Children’s Books/Penguin Random House, Ages 14 +, $18.99.
REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan
FORMAT: Young Adult
In the second book by Ms. Yoon, juxtaposes teens from two different cultures trying make their ways in the Big Apple. They meet by chance and end up spending the day together trying to get to various meetings they have to attend to put their lives on the tracks they want to follow.
New York city teenagers, one, a Korean/American and one, an illegal immigrant from Jamaica, fall in love, but to no avail. And though their lives move forward, in their souls they still have a connection to each other. The boy’s parents want him to follow the path that all bright Korean/American kids are supposed trek, go to Harvard or Yale and become successful lawyers or doctors. The boy and his older brother have no interest in following the planned road. The boy has the soul of a poet.
The girl’s parents smuggled her into the U.S. when she was very young. She barely remembers Jamaica and her brother was born in the U.S. She wants to be an astrophysicist or at least something to do with space. She feels that’s not likely to happen in Jamaica.
The Sun is also a Star
Natasha Kingsley and her family are about to be deported from New York City to Jamaica, but she has lived most of her life in the U.S. and doesn’t want to go back. Daniel Jae Ho Bae was born in the U.S., as was his older brother, Charles Jae Won Bae. Their parents are here legally, Natasha’s are not. The only legal person in her family is her younger brother, Peter. The chance of Daniel and Natasha ever meeting seems very unlikely, but meet they do as Natasha makes one last ditch effort to turn the tide on her family’s deportation that night. Daniel is in Manhattan to be interviewed for admittance into Yale, not that he wants to go to Yale or become a doctor. He’d rather learn more about writing poetry. But they do meet and end up spending most of the day together. Daniel is open to falling in love with Natasha, but she keeps resisting. What’s the use she thinks, but she can’t help herself. In the end, Daniel takes her to the plane and watches her fly away. For a while they keep in touch, but time and distance finally take their toll on the relationship. Except for what happens ten years later. The story is complex and, at first, difficult to follow who belongs in which family, but soon the reader figures out who belongs where and starts rooting for the star-crossed lovers. Like Ms. Yoon’s first book, Everything, Everything, this story will pull you in. She’s bound to be read eagerly and readers will anxiously await her next book. This book discusses some tough issues, such as the U.S. immigration laws, ethnic/culture differences, and are there such things as coincidences.
BIBLIO: 2016, Delacorte Press/Random House Children’s Books/Penguin Random House LLC, Ages 14 +, $18.99.
REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan
FORMAT: Young Adult
Both of these books show what a good writer can come up with when writing a good story. It doesn’t matter which of these you read first, but I would highly recommend reading both.