Summary: Natasha, whose family is hours away from being deported, and Daniel, a first generation Korean American who strives to live up to his parents’ expectations, unexpectedly fall in love and must determine which path they will choose in order to be together.
My Review: I read this book in one day. I could not put it down. Natasha is desperate to stay in New York. She does not remember much of her life in her home of Jamaica. Her family is not rich, but she was happy. She had friends. She had a place to call home. In conjunction with her separation is an underlying anger at her father, who put her family in this situation in the first place. If he had not been caught, they would still be able to stay in New York. She is angry with him from turning their lives upside down. She is also angry about how he feels about her and her mother. Her mother is not as big of a presence in the book, but she is the stable parent of the two. She works multiple jobs to keep them in their apartment and fed. In her journey to save herself, and her family, she meets Daniel.
Daniel’s family moved to America to give their children a better life. Now that his older brother has not lived up to them, it is up to Daniel to go to college, become a doctor, and marry a good Korean girl. He doesn’t want any of these things. Daniel is a dreamer and a poet. He isn’t even sure he wants to go to college, but he can’t find the courage to tell his parents that. His older brother, who he used to be close to, has drifted away from him and frankly, is a jerk.
Daniel and Natasha meet by pure happenstance and he is instantly smitten. While Daniel is the dreamer, Natasha is the skeptic. Life is not all hearts and butterflies in her opinion and she doubts that love even exists. Daniel makes it his goal to have her fall in love with him by the end of the day. As Natasha knows she only has one day left, she takes the bet. What happens next is a wonderful love story told from Natasha and Daniel’s point of view.
This sounds like a typical romance, but it is anything but. In addition to hearing from Natasha and Daniel, other characters get their own chapters to share their own stories. Sometimes the chapter is about a specific word or meaning. These chapters help guide the story. They tether it all together and enrich the story that unfolds in one magical day. Though the ending chapters seems a little rushed, I loved this book. Nicola Yoon is definitely an author to be on the lookout for.