Facts. I feel like this is what this book is about. And the main fact is that I’ve read it in less than 5 days, in between journeys to work and back. This was also not my first rodeo with Nicola Yoon’s writing which has proven once again very easy to go through as well as cute, innocent and simple as first love is. Back in 2017 I read Everything, Everything, her debut novel which made me fall in love all over again – the full review here. This time around I felt the story somewhat more mature and touching on a more important subject that a lot of people can resonate with. The only thing I knew about the book was that there was going to be a teen love story, but I was actually surprised by how much I’ve found myself in the matters depicted in it.
The book was written by Nicola Yoon and published in 2016, only one year after her debut novel, Everything, Everything. The Jamaican American author has been using her own experiences to create characters similar to herself. In this novel, we have Natasha, a Jamaican American 17 year old girl, about to be deported from America alongside her parents and brother for being undocumented immigrants. We also meet Daniel, the Korean American teenage boy who believes in love and fate (kinda makes you like him. A lot. 👀) and wants to prove to Natasha that he can make her fall in love with him in just one day. Then you have the Universe, the force that makes everything happen for a reason.
I liked the way the book was structered, in small chapters, easy to read, really light and enjoyable, while also touching on a few immigrant-related-issues that I’ve related to quite a bit. And this is the part that surprised me. I did not expect to resonate so much with a young adult book, but the subject matter is kind of the story of my life, being an immigrant myself. The author gives flashback storylines to all the smaller characters which only helps to solidify the story and the reasoning behind certain decisions made by said characters, just like in life – when we jump to conclusions or judge people down the street just because they look in a certain way or do something that can look unusual because you don’t know the full story. (Made me think back to Wonder, one of my favourite books.)
In June 2018, Warner Brothers officially started the production of the movie that serves as an adaptation of the story imagined by Nicola Yoon. Although the book is not in itself too deep and remains on the realm of young adult storytelling, the movie can feel a bit lighter, very cheesy, and a bit more superficial, especially with a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes that had to (and should’ve) fit so many tiny aspects that make the book compelling. There is a lot of meaning in the book and a lot of it is not reflected in the movie, but this is not news at all, it happens with a lot of adaptations.
We are born to dream and make the things we dream about.
The movie stars Charles Melton (known to the public from his breakout role in Riverdale) or for being Ariana Grande’s boyfriend in break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored video. Melton does a good job at being the Daniel that is so easy to love in the book and I really hope he will get away from Riverdale as soon as possible to be able to show his acting skills more. I didn’t know Yara Shahidi until this movie, although her portofolio has more titles, roles, and commercials than Charles’. She played Natasha maybe a little less passionate than Charles played Daniel, or maybe I’m just letting my feelings dictate what I write (that being one of the reasons I’ve started this blog – as an outlet for my thoughts and feelings). They were both good actors, don’t get me wrong, and the script didn’t allow for to many changes – which I’ve noted below, but I still prefer the book over the movie.
The book is available at Young Art if you’re in Romania, and at Penguin if you’re in the UK.
Book vs. movie – spoilers ahead:
• Deus Ex Machina was written on Natasha’s backpack, but in the movie she is wearing a jacket that has the writing on the back
• Natasha’s brother was born in the United States in the book, but in the movie she explains that they’ve moved over when he was 4 years old
• Lawyer’s name is Jeremy Martinez, but in the book is Fitzgerald
• Daniel’s parents make him go to an admission interview for Yale, but in the movie he is going to an admission interview for Dartmouth
• The kitchen scene between Daniel, his mom, and Charles (his brother) is slightly different in the book, the outcome being almost identical
• Natasha’s headphones are not bright pink, and Daniel’s tie is not red as depicted in the book – and I think these differences annoyed me the most
• the train stops in the book because the conductor is stopping it to make a religious comment through the speakers, in the movie it stops for no obvious reason and the comment is changed to be about an inspirational story
• Throughout the day that they are spending together, Daniel doesn’t walk around the city with a friend which is a detail that was made up by the scriptwritter
• Natasha has a phone call with her dad in the movie, just outside the coffee shop, but this doesn’t happen in the book – they also sit down to have launch in a Korean restaurant which is also not happening in the movie
• Daniel’s interview doesn’t get postponed like it does in the movie, he is the one calling the office to move it to a later time because he wants to spend more time with Natasha
• The couple has a fight in the book and they never end up together in the Planetarium
• In the noraebang (Korean karaoke), Daniel sings an ABBA hit in the book, but the scriptwritter decided that he needed to sign something very cheesy in the movie
• Natasha also sings in the noraebang, very badly, being one of the funniest and cutest scenes in the book – deemed by the scriptwritter that it was not needed for the movie, probably, because it was completely scrapped
• Natasha’s dad has a different and sadder history in the book
• The lawyer’s affair with his paralegal is not present in the movie, probably because of running out of time to be able to include it
• Daniel says I love you in the book when he finds out that the deportation is still going ahead, and Natasha says I love you back before going on a plane to Jamaica – in the movie, Natasha says I love you towards the end of the movie and that’s it, she does not get an I love you back 👀
• In the end, the book shows Daniel and Natasha years later on a plane, being very close to each other and probably meeting again at some point – the book talking quite a bit about coincidences; in the movie, Natasha comes back to America 5 years later and finds Daniel in the coffee shop where they start kissing
Some people exist in your life to make it better. Some people exist to make it worst.