Natasha is a Jamaican immigrant living in New York. She is practical, realistic, and doesn't believe in love, much less fate.
Daniel is a Korean-American trying to find his own path outside of what his parents want, especially now that he has to play the role of perfect son. He is a strong believer in fate.
Natasha and Daniel meet. One falls immediately, the other is unconvinced. They have 24 hours to tell their story.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Date Read: November 26, 2017
I picked this up over Thanksgiving break because literally all my friends, except 3, went home. I stayed on campus and decided that this would be the first full book I read for the fall semester (which is kind of sad). So, in between doing homework, catching up on NaNoWriMo, and taking walks around campus by myself, I finished this on the last day of Thanksgiving break with a happy heart.
Also, before we get into the full review, I wanted to note that I half-read and half-listened to the audiobook. The audiobook was fantastic and I highly recommend it if you're an Audible user. The narrators for Natasha and Daniel are in fact Jamaican and Korean respectively, and they do an excellent job with the foreign words within the story. Also, the guy who narrates all the other characters does a great job as well. Overall, the audiobook is incredibly and I think you should listen to the book if you have the chance.
This was the perfect book to finally get me out of the slump that Gone Girl put me in back in end of July. I got out of that slump with Vicious, only to go back into another slump that started with Red Rising. So, I knew that I had to pick something that I would love, and when I saw this in my school library, I knew this was the book.
Firstly, let me tell you how happy I am to see POC representation in this book. Natasha is Jamaican, and Daniel is Korean-American. Never before have I read a book about a Jamaican immigrant or a first generation Korean-American living in America. These are both very specific types of people, and I think YA should be more open to talking about immigrants living in the US, as well as what it's like to be a first generation person with immigrant parents. That being said, I would like to point something out - I've read Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell and would like to clarify that Park is bi-racial, not fully Korean. It makes a big difference.
Even though the story is told over the course of 24 hours, I felt like I was getting an entire lifetime of Natasha and Daniel's story. We get so much out of the day we spend with these two characters, and I felt like I saw more character development in these two over the course of a single day than I've seen some real people go through in a year. Nicola Yoon did such an amazing job with these two characters and nothing can make me love them less.
Yes, a decent part of the story is about the love story between Daniel and Natasha, but it's also about so much more. The book talks about immigration, race, parental expectations, family, love, the future, personal worldviews, and what it's like to be a teenager. My favorite part of the book was how it dealt with immigration and racial differences, especially since neither of our protagonists are white. It was so well done and respectful, I have to applaud Yoon for how she executed this story.
(I also feel very qualified saying that she did a good job since I am an Asian studying abroad in America for college).
One thing I want to mention is that we get to see a lot of the side characters and their lives too. Yoon wrote little biographical chapters about several of the side characters we encounter, telling their stories as well. I really enjoyed getting to see this, because it really went to show that other people are going through so many things that we might not see.
The romance in this book, while some have complained to be insta-lovey, kind of has to be since we only get 24 hours with the characters. I personally didn't mind it because of how well it was done, and it didn't feel like the attraction was because of some dumb reason. It wasn't based on physical attraction, but something more. I couldn't stop smiling as Daniel and Natasha spent more time together, and my heart was certainly very happy.
The ending gave me so many feels, I think I smiled for a solid 10 minutes. It was the perfect kind of ending, and everything I needed to get me through the last few weeks of the semester. I spent so much time after finishing this book raving about how good it is and telling people to read it. It even got placed as my 3rd favorite book of 2017. I just love this book so much and think that everyone should read it - if not for the love story, then for how it talks about race and immigration.
I could really relate to Natasha and how practical she can be, even though I can't say that I don't believe in love or fate - I'm a little iffy on the latter. Natasha's reactions felt very natural and realistic to me, especially when it came to her family. Considering the life she's had, I felt like I was really able to understand what she was feeling and why she was the way she was.
I love Daniel, and that summarizes pretty much all of how I feel about him. Sure, he might come across a little KPop-y, but it didn't feel very far-fetched from what the Korean guys I know personally are like. Not only was Daniel incredibly respectful and understanding, he was genuinely very sweet throughout the book. I'm so glad that an Asian-American was being portrayed as being attractive, since I rarely see Asians being portrayed as attractive in any kind of media, but particularly YA.
5 stars. In case you can't already tell, I highly recommend this book. It's truly wonderful and I think everyone should pick it up.