Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean (9781250766601)
Izumi has never felt that she was either Japanese enough or American enough. She is caught in between. It doesn’t help that her father is an unknown and unnamed person. When one of Izzy’s friends discovers a clue in Izzy’s mother’s room, they soon discover that Izzy is the illegitimate daughter of the Crown Prince of Japan. After Izzy reaches out to him, she is soon whisked off to spend time with him in Japan. But being a princess isn’t what Izumi pictured. Her life is suddenly full of rules to follow, language lessons, etiquette lessons and strict schedules. Even ducking into a bathroom when she lands in Japan creates a schedule crisis and makes the tabloid news. Izumi is surrounded by jealous cousins, a bossy handmaiden, and a hot bodyguard. But finding true love isn’t easy when you are a princess and the world is watching.
It would be easy to dismiss this book as a Japanese remake of the Princess Diaries, but this novel is much more than that. Readers are on a journey to Japan along with Izzy. They will learn about traditions, folk tales, the royal family and more. The settings are beautifully described and Jean brings both Tokyo and Kyoto to full realization with her writing. Izzy’s search for where she belongs is complicated and very personal.
Izzy is a marvelous character. She’s a girl more comfortable in t-shirts, hoodies and leggings than in fitted dresses selected by her handmaiden. Surrounded by a new life, she struggles to figure out where she fits even though she suddenly looks like everyone else around her. As she learns Japanese language and customs, she retains her snarky attitude, much to the dismay of some of her handlers while also learning when to hold her tongue to have the impact she wants.
A fairy tale grounded in Japanese culture and identity with a sequel on the way. Appropriate for ages 12-15.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Flatiron Books.