This Time Will Be Different

400p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Jun. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062473448.
RedReviewStarGr 9 Up—Her entire life, 17-year-old CJ Katsuyama has heard that "Katsuyamas never quit"—but here she is barely started, struggling to live up to her successful mother's ambitious plans to get her into the right college. Instead of prestigious internships, after-school sports, or any other idea her mother has presented, CJ develops a passion for working at the family's flower shop. The shop was lost when her family was forced into internment camps during World War II, but they painstakingly fought to get it back—and won. When CJ finds out the flower shop's future is again compromised, her entire world becomes uprooted. Will she be able to win the fight for her family's legacy? Set in present-day California, this is a gripping, emotionally charged story that presents an interesting window into a uniquely Japanese American experience that deserves attention. Although a work of fiction, the novel discusses the present influence of devastating American history and counters the idea that past experiences of injustice no longer affect the modern landscape. CJ, her mother, and her aunt grapple with what success looks like—should they "play the system" built through profiting unfairly off of others or continue to harbor what some may consider frivolous grudges? However, the story is not presented as a sterile case study—Sugiura's writing perfectly blends all these important themes and more as readers travel through very real emotions with a teen attempting to grow up. Despite family history or turmoil, she must still navigate the pitfalls of love, friendship, and life at school. The novel also discusses LGBT+ issues and discrimination, abortion, and other realistic teen struggles.
VERDICT Recommended purchase for a variety of collections looking for contemporary voices that mirror real-life landscapes.

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