One may not immediately associate a YA novel with an exploration of the universe’s meaning. But The Sun Is Also a Star, the 2016 romantic fiction with a big screen adaptation in theaters now, is actually somewhat based in science. At the surface, the story is about teen love. But the meaning of the title The Sun Is Also a Star actually dives deep into themes of fate, evolution, and existence.
Nicola Yoon’s 2016 novel chronicles Daniel (played by Charles Melton in the new film) and Natasha (Yara Shahidi), two teens who can’t escape the fate of their completely unlikely yet star-crossed romance. Daniel is the son of Korean shopkeepers and a romantic who loves poetry; his future is dreamy and bright. Natasha is a logical, non-romantic and an illegal immigrant who'd be frustrated with anyone who uses the terms "dreamy" and "bright." They unexpectedly cross paths in New York City while Natasha is in the process of avoiding deportation to Jamaica. Yet in just one day, they fall in love. Throughout the story, the characters share their very different perspectives on twisty, cosmic destinies and the big picture, discussing topics from astronomer Carl Sagan to the Big Bang — things the author, Yoon, was also fascinated by.
According to Yoon’s 2016 interview with The Huffington Post, The Sun Is Also a Star was inspired by Big History Project, which is a study examining the universe and its past, present, and future. It ties into the The Sun in that Daniel and Natasha’s love story is better explained by each and every event in their lives that ultimately led to their meeting. According to Big History Project’s website, the study, a collaboration between teachers, scientists, and scholars, is “designed for anyone seeking answers to the big questions about the history of our universe.” It helps explain the universe’s timeline, including formation of planets, life, and stars, including the sun. One chapter of the course is called “Star Formation,” which explains the life cycle of stars, including the sun, and how “we’re all made of stars.” Perhaps there’s something greater, orchestrating life, that no one can control and that impacts and intertwines each of us.
These theories look at the big picture and how long it can take universes, and stars, to form. The Sun applies these theories to life occurrences like romantic relationships and the timely, purposeful events that lead to them. In a 2016 interview, Yoon explained how the theories surrounding the universe influence to her characters and how there are no accidents.
"I just wanted to show how these two people who seem so different because they're from different walks of life are actually connected by like 1000 different things they don't even know about," the author explained. She argued that like the stars and planets, we’re all connected in ways we can’t control or may not understand. "If we could slow down and take the time we'd be able to see [that].”
Regardless of how audiences feel about teen love stories, or the Big Bang theory, it’s hard to deny Yoon’s story provides tons of food for thought.