Author: Nicola Yoon
When they say the heart wants what it wants, they’re talking about the poetic heart–the heart of love songs and soliloquies, the one that can break as if were just-formed glass. They’re not talking about the real heart, the one that only needs healthy foods and aerobic exercise. But the poetic heart is not to be trusted. It is fickle and will lead you astray. It will tell you that all you need is love and dreams. It will say nothing about food and water and shelter and money. It will tell you that this person, the one in front of you, the one who caught your eye for whatever reason, is the One. And he is. And she is. The One–for right now, until his heart or her heart decides on someone else or something else. The poetic heart is not to be trusted with long-term decision-making.
Natasha Kingsley is a realist. A scientist. She looks at the world as it is, because who has time for dreams and fantasy? Her father has spent his entire life ‘chasing his dreams’ and look where it’s leaded them. It has handed them deportation–tonight at 10PM in fact. Natasha has no recollection of her former life in Jamaica. All she has even known is America. Between re-making of friends and the uncomfortable cultural change, she’s done it once before and is not ready to do it again. As Natasha tries with her entire being to get her family to stay, it shouldn’t be her job to fix her father’s mistakes. She does anyway though, resentment full intact.
Daniel Jae Ho Bae is a dreamer. A poet. He looks at the world for what it could be, because who wouldn’t want to see all the good in the world? He’s Korean American. Daniel was born in America but the life his parents suffered in Korea only made it hard on him here in America. The pressure has always weighed heavy on both his brother and him. Daniel is stuck at a crossroad in life at the moment. His asshole of a brother (the golden child) just got suspended from Harvard University (yes, the #1 school in America), So now the pressure is all on him. With Daniel’s interview for Yale University (yes, the second best school) only hours away, he’s fighting a war with himself. Does he live his own dreams of being a poet, or live parents forceful dream of becoming a doctor.
When Natasha and Daniel have their first encounter the differences in them hold strong and true. Daniel is determined to get Natasha to fall in love with him (because fate brought them together) and Natasha is determined to show him, love is scientific–there is no such thing as fate. As we are taken through Daniel and Natasha’s day, we can see just how easily one interaction can affect the chain of events in a single day. The choices we make spiral into others lives affecting it in ways we couldn’t imagine. Nicola Yoon shows us that simple decisions can change an entire course of not only our lives, but others as well. Will Natasha be able to see that life can’t always be scientifically explained? Will she be able succeed in keeping her family here in America? Will Daniel ultimately become the doctor his parents always pushed him towards, or is his passion for words strong enough to take the riskier path?
I LOVED this book! I want everyone to read this book. This is the kind of read to make you think. Make you think long and hard about your life and how grateful you should be. My stance on immigration has always been the same–I love America and it’s melting pot, it makes us who we are. However, I believe it should be done legally. Not for any other purpose than to NEVER experience what Natasha and her family have to. And my belief still stands, however I can acknowledge and sympathize for anyone who has to go through this extreme suffering. There is the other side of what Daniel has to work through. He is a legal citizen but his parents culture is still Korean. Do as they say and that is all–that is the Korean way. I am extremely lucky to have never had my parents forcefully push me in one direction because they deemed it the right path–the only path. A lot of children, especially from different cultures feel they have no say in their lives. But if you’re in America you do. That is the beauty of this country. You are free to say and do as you please. My heart goes out to anyone who feels stuck in the same predicament as Daniel is. Be free, because you are.
I would recommend this book to literally everyone. I think it would serve a lesson for a lot of people. The domino affect may make you re-think choices or it may not. Can you challenge all your beliefs? Are you on sciences side–or the dreamers?