She knows: love is just chemicals and coincidence.
Daniel is lovely. The second son of Korean immigrants, he has only felt the full pressure to succeed since his brother Charlie started to falter. His father wants the American Dream for them, but Daniel doesn’t really want to be a doctor. There’s a lot in this book about disappointing your family, or your family disappointing you.
He is so nice to Natasha, who might seem like she is undeserving. Understandably she has a lot on her mind, but Daniel does everything right. She slowly comes round to his way of thinking. Maybe it all happens too fast, but the book relies on everything happening in one day.
What I liked the most were the chapters from the perspective of the minor characters. Everyone is always caught up in their own lives with their own problems, we barely stop to think about the people we interact with on this level. And if we do, our assumptions are so often wrong. It also reflects how even the smallest of actions can change the course of a life.
As part of parental expectations, it also touches on their own racism. Both families wish their children to settle down with their own kind. In a world that is prejudiced towards them, they want the familiarity of their own culture, without realising their children are more American than Jamaican or Korean.
He can't see past his own history to let us have ours.
I guess I made the same mistake as the immigration official at the start of the book, thinking that Jamaica doesn't sound like the worst place to be deported to. I wasn't aware of the high rates of serious crime or the poverty levels. And America isn't exactly perfect right now but I get that we quite often only see part of the picture when it comes to another country. The book focuses a lot more on a rather charming romance and having to leave a life behind than a genuine fear though.
There are also chapters that talk about the history and culture of those involved, and also that not everyone is always aware of it. Especially younger generations, who may not want the weight of their legacy on their shoulders. And why should they? I did find the passage about the Korean monopoly on black hair care pretty amazing, what an odd world we live in.
This book is a huge improvement over Everything, Everything which, as you might know, irritated me greatly. There's a little bit of me that does think, really, you're leaving this to the day you're leaving to sort out, but mostly I liked the single day approach. And if you're wondering if you find out what happens with Irene, it's OK, there's a lovely little epilogue about everyone's future. I welled up a bit.
If you're particularly interested in the process of trying to stop deportation from the US, you might want to try Something In Between by Melissa de la Cruz which is a bit more on point.
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Book Source: Purchased