I Love You So Mochi

320p. Scholastic. May 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338302882.
Gr 8 Up—All is not well in the world of Kimiko Nakamura. It's the second half of her senior year, and Kimi's already been accepted to a prestigious art school where she will pursue her (and her mom's) dream of becoming an artist—definitely not the ideal time to realize that painting is no longer her passion. Kimi would rather design and create exciting fashions for herself and her friends than worry about her future. The revelation drives a wedge between her and her mother, so Kimi accepts an unexpected invitation from her estranged grandparents to visit them in Japan for spring break. There she meets Akira, a handsome mascot for his uncle's mochi business. He pledges to help Kimi discover her true passion as they explore Kyoto and their growing feelings for each other. The setting, replete with blooming cherry trees, delicious food, and a culture that is at once familiar and foreign to Kimi, is a perfect backdrop for her musings on identity, family, and purpose. Kimi's developing relationship with her grandparents, through which she begins to understand both herself and her mother in a new light, is particularly touching and well told in this YA debut.
VERDICT Deliver to readers who crave frothy, clean romance as sweet as mochi with a heaping side of satisfying self-discovery.

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