Izumi Tanaka, a Japanese-American high school girl, has never felt like she fit in anywhere. In her predominantly white, northern California town, Mount Shasta, she definitely stands out. She is super funny, quirky, and really cares for the people she loves. Despite her feelings of being different from others, Izumi enjoys hanging out with her incredibly close friends and supportive single mom.
The only thing missing in her life is her father. After searching through her mother’s things and using Google, Izumi discovers the startling news that her dad is the prince of Japan! Soon after she finds this information, she writes a letter to one of her father's friends. Not long after, word spreads everywhere of the newfound princess. Izumi is invited to Japan to stay with the royal family for two weeks. There, she realizes she is not quite cut out for being royalty. The Imperial family hopes she learns thousands of years of tradition and customs practically overnight, and she struggles with their expectations. The language barrier is sometimes difficult, too, and she deeply misses her life in California. Her spirits decline as Izumi realizes she was not “American” enough back home, but now she must prove she is “Japanese” enough to be with her dad. Can she handle the pressure of being a perfect princess?
BTSYA / Teen Reader (15):
Tokyo Ever After is intriguing and charming. Skillfully added humor makes Izumi a very loveable and fun character. Her quirkiness and impulsiveness drive the book, making you want to turn each page to see what she would do next. The novel does an amazing job describing Japanese customs and the unique culture of Japan. Emiko Jean’s description of the nation’s beauty makes me want to visit Japan someday. The book also addresses the struggles of being a minority in your hometown, the awkwardness of not being raised within your culture, and the elitism of royalty.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The only criticism I have is that the romance felt a bit off. Akio and Izumi don’t have much in common and their love seemed rushed at times. He loved her personality very much, but Izumi really only talked about his looks. I also would have liked Izumi's relationship with her father to develop more, and I wish she could have bonded with her family in Japan more.
But, in all, Tokyo Ever After was a light-hearted novel where the main character is validating, in the sense that she is not perfect and wonderfully ordinary. The ending was well done, with Izumi focusing on what she wanted and her personal growth. I recommend this book for ages 14 and older.
Readers drawn to "lost princess" stories will find this engaging AND thought-provoking, too.
This is a contemporary story about a Japanese girl who learns she is a Japanese princess.
Although the story is light and has some humor, it poses some interesting questions about fitting in, family, and what "home" is.
13 and Up
13 and Up
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer's Age: 15
Borrow. A fun, light read, but not a book you'll likely come back to.
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|Publisher||HarperTeen, Imprint HarperCollins Publishers © 2008|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Imprint Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing © 2021|
|Publisher||Random House Children's Books, Penguin Random House Company © 2019|