Comped as the perfect novel for fans of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Princess Diaries, Emiko Jean’s YA contemporary was one I had to pick up. I also have a slight (understatement) obsession with Japan, which is totally sad, seeing as I’ve never been. One day. For now, my escape to Japan remains of the fictional variety, with reads like Tokyo Ever After. Seven Days of You is another YA contemporary set in Japan I can totally recommend.
Seventeen-year-old Izumi Tanaka has lived a pretty ordinary life in California with her single mom and a close-knit circle of friends. There’s a lot of support and love and a chat group that will make you laugh out loud. Still, Izumi’s Japanese heritage makes her different from her classmates, and she’s had to deal with her share of racism and racial microaggressions, like confessing her love to a crush and hearing that he isn’t into Asian girls. So when Izumi (by way of her best friend, who’s totally awesome and the best friend we all need) discovers that her long-lost dad is non-other than Asian George Clooney, the Crown Prince of Japan, it’s wheels up, and hello, Japan.
America never made Izumi feel like she was enough. But once in Japan, she doesn’t feel Japanese enough for Japan either. Sure, everyone looks like her. And that’s great! But she knows none of the (royal) customs. Doesn’t speak the language. And her royal cousins (aka the Shining Twins) have made it their mission to see Izumi fail. Izumi might have been on her first flight home were it not for her determination and heart and a certain (very yummy) royal palace guard.
A mix of coming-of-age story (Izumi discovers she’s a princess and finds her identity) and rom-com (we love the romantic tension), Tokyo Ever After is a teen novel that hits you in the feels while delivering levels of depth. In Izumi, Emiko Jean has created a character who’s utterly relatable despite being the Crown Prince’s daughter. The ending feels satisfying and makes you want more, aka the sequel.
What’s more to love: Asian main character discovers she’s Japanese royalty; the feminism woven into the story (a princess can’t become Empress; let’s change that); the way mental health issues are addressed (how women are often forced to suffer in silence and hide their struggles); the gooey goodness of a wonderfully written love story (fluffy romance novel, ahoy).
Book: Tokyo Ever After
Published: Macmillan Children’s Books
Publication Date: May 27th, 2021
Pan Macmillan South Africa kindly sent me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion, rating, or the content of my review.