(Book Review) From Little Tokyo, With Love / Sarah Kuhn

A modern fairytale – ‘From Little Tokyo, With Love’ by Sarah Kuhn – aimed at Teen/YA readers. I don’t normally pick up much from this genre, however this book was really something very special, and I’m so glad that I got the opportunity to read it. I wish I’d had this novel when I was a teenager.

「From Little Tokyo, With Love」は、おとぎ話をモチーフとして物語が展開する、ティーン / ヤングアダルト向けの作品。作者のSarah Kuhnは日系3世のアメリカ人です。ヤングアダルト系の本はあまり積極的に手に取らない私ですが、この本は心から出会えてよかった。自分がティーンエイジャーの頃に読みたかったなと思う1冊です。

The protagonist, Rika-chan, is a Japanese-American orphan girl living in LA with her cousins’ family. While her cousins are obsessed with princesses and rom-coms, she is proud of her judo skills, and believes she is not a princess type at all. She feels like she doesn’t belong to the community around her and feels something is missing. The main narrative of this book is about her journey of how she comes to find her own self and sense of belonging. The story starts with scenes of the Nikkei Week Festival – a big event for Japanese-Americans in Little Tokyo – where all the neighborhood gets involved in celebrating with a parade, judo demonstration and mochi cooking. She happens to find a clue about her long lost mother there… Can she find her happy-ending?


The story contains so many important issues such as racism against those from a biracial background, stereotypes against Japanese culture, biracial complexes (eg, not Asian enough / not White enough), Asian representation in Hollywood, traditional norms such as patriarchal households, the community supporting each other even when it sometimes creates a strong stigma, and a bit of history about Japanese-Americans.


Despite its unique characterization of a Japanese-American girl and her inner struggles, I believe the story is empowering for all those part of the current young generation, regardless of race, who are struggling with their identities. Friendship, sisterhood and motherhood all play important roles in the story!


The tone of the book is very heartwarming and adorable. Plus, of course there is a cute romance with a hot actor to look forward to! The scenery of LA was so well depicted, as if you were driving through the streets right there with them. All in all, such a powerful book with a strong central character. Rika-chan will surely stay with you long after the final page!



[AD – REVIEW COPY] I was provided a PR copy of this book by Kaleidoscopic Tours

Publisher: Penguin Random House

More reviews available on my book blog Intermission Ambience
書評ブログの Intermission Ambience にも本のレビューを書いています。あわせてぜひご覧ください!

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