Munching On The Sun

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Nov 2018

Member Reviews

Lukas Wunand is the cool guy on campus, the one everyone wants to hang out with but who no one really knows. His story starts out a bit muddled and with almost pretentious prose but unravels into an intimate look at the power of first love. The story unfolds across two timelines. We see Lukas in the blush of first love and the barriers that forbid it and later in life in a downward spiral as Lukas faces old emotions and new complications.

As in his first novel, The Boys who Danced with the Moon, the second by Oleksiw explores young love and coming of age. Munching on the Sun is by no means a light read and for a time I feared it would end horribly. However, a satisfactory, maybe even too perfect ending, wraps up Lukas’ story and may have you reminiscing about some of your own past loves. If you dare to go there.
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This is a sweet YA coming-of-age novel about Lukas and Kara, a star-crossed couple who are estranged as the book opens. Lukas is in college and is beloved by his classmates as he is a born leader, scholar, and friend. But he is haunted by the memories of Kara, the young Hindi girl he met when they were eleven as he fell head-over-heels in love immediately. Told in alternating chapters of past and present, the novel chronicles the angst Lukas feels as he struggles to make sense of the rare sighting he had of Kara one day on campus. Poignant and lyrical, the book is a testament to young love, sacrifice, friendship, and redemption.
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When I received an email asking me if I wanted to review this book, I  was a little confused at first. This because my last review on his first book wasn’t as positive as I had hoped it would be. It just simply couldn’t get through the storyline and missed some excitement. 
Hesitant I accepted and started in Munching on the Sun.. 
I’ve struggled with this, at least as much as with Oleksiw’s last book.. the way he formulates his sentences, the words he uses.. I can’t get into the story. And so -After 150 pages I decided to stop reading this book.
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*I was provided with an ARC of this book through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Upon finishing this book, I found myself with the most bittersweet dilemma. I felt such a sense of righteous indignation that this book hasn’t gotten the attention that it deserves (it’s yet to be published, but still), making me want to shout its praises from the rooftops! But then a part of me wanted to keep this buried treasure of a book all to my self. I think it’s obvious at this point that I absolutely adored it, it was just so perfect to me. I literally couldn’t put it down!

What was so unusual about this book, was that I had no idea where the story was taking me most of the time, all I knew was that I wanted to follow. I experienced such variations of emotion whilst reading Lukas’ story. Mark Paul Oleksiw did such an amazing job of portraying him as this charismatic enigma, and yet you still felt like you knew who he truly was deep down, especially in the flashbacks. Lukas was such a unique character and I cherish him dearly, I’ve never come across a literary figure who had such pure intentions, who was so good, but was being consumed by guilt, anger, duty, lost love and regret.

Lukas’s plight was so heart breaking to read about, as he grappled with unresolved feelings from his past, his identity and what others expected/needed from him. The writing was just so beautiful in capturing the fragility deep inside him, his emotions threatening to break through the surface of the love that had frozen at the very core of his being. And then conjuring this seemingly effortless charm and air of controlled chaos, that he performed for those around him. The authors writing took an already incredible story to new heights. It was so compelling, each line bursting with creativity and yet careful precision, so it was never overdone, allowing me to flow through the text with ease.

I can’t quite decide what impacted me most, Lukas’ present, as he desperately tried to keep up appearances with those on campus. Or being submerged in the glow of his memories with Kara, which were filled with the most delicate innocence and friendship. Even given their vastly different circumstances, both versions of Lukas had this unflinching resolve to do the right thing by others, even if it cost him bits of himself. There were some darker turns that Lukas and consequently this book took, demonstrating how sometimes we’d do what ever it takes to protect the people that we love and when they leave we are left thinking if it was worth it. I’m getting all teary eyed just thinking about all that he went through and how, despite what he believed, he had such a good soul and a selfless love for those around him.

I don’t want to go into too much detail about Lukas and Kara, because I don’t want to spoil anything. But I loved reading about their interactions so much, it allowed me to see the most authentic version of Lukas, my favourite version of Lukas, the Lukas of the past that had not yet felt the need to become a mere actor in the play of his life. Their friendship felt so otherworldly, as if it were too wonderful to exist in this realm, until it became riddled with all of the intricacies that come with the complications of growing up. It was also so nice that Kara was Hindu, it’s my first time reading about a Hindu love interest which was so lovely.

Another five star aspect of Munching on the Sun was that I fully believed in and treasured every relationship that Lukas had. From his relationship with his family and with honourable mention, his sister Maggie, his friends and of course Kara. I adored his relationship with Maggie so much and they are definitely one of my favourite sibling duos. It was so nerve wracking to have to just wait and see whether his friends truly cared about him or only the entertainment and relief he offered them, although even I just wanted him to carry on his escapades at times, given that they were so humorous. The campus life was so much fun to read about and was definitely one of my most beloved aspects of the novel. I’m so glad that the author made Lukas’ friends and family such a huge part of his story, a lot of YA’s tend to spearhead with romance, letting other relationships inevitably fall by the wayside.

There were so many different things happening in this book in both Lukas’ past and present. It’s just such a special experience when authors tell both the characters past and present, it makes you feel as though you’ve known that character for all that time. And when past and present start to connect, it is the most unexplainable feeling, as you’ve felt that characters longing and their regrets, their hopefulness. Somewhere, somehow you start to take everything as personally as if you were them, experiencing their feelings and yet simultaneously trying to protect them or cheer for them, it’s unquestionably the mark of a great book.

I don’t think I can put into words how blessed I feel to have requested this book, it has ultimately taken a piece of my Heart and tucked it within it’s pages. It is without a doubt one of the most sophisticated YA novels that I’ve read, dealing with some serious topics. The author never put a foot wrong and I can’t recommend this book enough (although it pains me to share).
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