Daniel and Natasha couldn’t be more different. Whereas Daniel believes in fate, destiny and the Great Meaning of Life, Natasha believes in facts, data, and that life is nothing but a repetition of patterns.
Facts and data are what help her make sense of life, especially at times like the present. Her family is in immediate danger of being deported back to Jamaica. In a move that is completely unlike her, Natasha is making her way to the heart of the city to find someone who might be able to help her family. She is hanging onto hope.
Daniel is also heading into the heart of the city, but for something that’s entirely hopeless. He has been picked for an interview that will ensure his entry into Yale. Which will ensure his academic career. Which will then ensure him a professional career as a doctor. It will all work out exactly as Daniel’s parents have worked, planned and hoped for. Except Daniel isn’t sure that he wants this life of structured predictability. He wants something grander, something more real. Something that will add meaning to his life. So, on his way to the city, he asks for a sign from the universe.
And the universe gives him one.
Or, at least, Daniel chooses to believe it’s a sign when he crosses paths with Natasha. Natasha, on the other hand, believes it’s an accident. Besides, Natasha has no time for boys – not even charming, long-haired, kind-hearted, poetry writing boys – when her family is about to be deported in a matter of hours.
But their paths keep intersecting, and it looks like Daniel and Natasha’s story is one that demands to be written.
Let me be clear: I dislike the “insta-love” plot device. It has been done to death in YA fiction, and I try to avoid it like the plague. However, I’ve read Yoon’s debut novel, “Everything, Everything” and having been struck by her beautiful writing I decided to give this one a chance. And I’m very happy I did.
Yoon’s writing is just as engaging and entertaining as I remember it. She is a strong story teller. She knows how to establish her premise, and weave the framework of her tale. She connects seemingly far-flung dots in her story, giving them multiple layers of significance. It is especially effective in a story that explores ideas of a world with or without meaning.
While Daniel and Natasha take centre stage, we also get glimpses into the lives of characters orbiting the main pair. These glimpses give us just enough information to solve the puzzle, and withhold just enough to have us reading on. The interlinking stories fit together into a bigger picture, echoing the melting pot of humanity that has the ability to give meaning to life or take it away. Yoon’s second novel looks at love, life, and family with poignancy. She’s produced a beautiful story that takes a snapshot of the complexity and beauty of life.
This book is recommended to fans of realistic YA fiction.