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?
Source: advance galley provided by Delacorte Press/Random House
Oh boy. Where do I even begin? This book lit me up, giving me so much to smile about and to be thankful for. It's an intense story that plays upon your emotions and curiosities. In between the frenzy there are thoughtful pauses where you learn something new. Okay, I'm rambling so let me do this better ...
Most of the story takes place in one day where one tiny act sets everything in motion. First thing in the morning, Natasha heads over to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to plead her family's case against deportation. By some stroke of luck, fluke or divine intervention, whatever you call it, she ends up meeting with a different agent who gives her the name of a lawyer who may be able to help. At the same time, Daniel is making his way across town to a college interview. They cross paths which ends up redirecting their day.
While Natasha and Daniel carry the bulk of the narrative, there are chapters interspersed throughout providing brief glimpses into the lives of various characters. Some of them figure prominently in Natasha and Daniel's worlds while others are simply fleeting encounters. There are also chapters devoted to cultural concepts or social history. Remember those thoughtful pauses I mentioned earlier? These chapters are unexpectedly fascinating, giving you an entirely new perspective on what you don't usually notice. I just ate it up. The overarching plot is that every one of the players in this story is somehow connected and that every event or incident has a purpose. This one day when the pragmatic and self-sufficient Natasha, meets the dreamer and idealistic Daniel, it's meant to happen. The bond they develop throughout this one day changes them irrevocably.
TSIAAS is one of the most beautiful books I've read this year. I was just ready to fall in love with it and it's partly to do with Nicola Yoon. She taps into something so intrinsic and visceral about her characters. There are details about them that become so tangible, for example, how Natasha finds bliss when she's listening to her beloved 90's alternative music. Or how Daniel derives order through poetry. Even the ones who have only a chapter or two devoted to them come alive because she has this magic that enables you to feel what's at their core. Yoon also draws from the characters' Jamaican and Korean heritages. Natasha being a transplant from Jamaica and Daniel being a first generation American, bring their unique perspectives to their surroundings and experiences.
I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Nicola Yoon at a YA luncheon last year and was I ever the fangirl! She is pure delight and warmth - I swear she naturally radiates joy. See the picture? Isn't she just so adorable? I think all that joy infuses her work and that's why her writing means so much to me. You know how you wish you could wind back the clock and read something for the first time again? TSIAAS is that kind of a book. If you read Everything, Everything and fell under its spell then you'll be as equally enchanted by this one. If you're new to Nicola Yoon then you're in for a treat!