From Little Tokyo, With Love

Viking. May 2021. 432p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593327487.
Gr 9 Up–Rika dislikes all things fairytale; she doesn’t believe happy endings are in the cards for her. She never knew her parents, and was adopted by Auntie Suzy and her wife, Auntie Och, as a baby. Together with their daughters, Belle and Rory, they are one happy Japanese family. Except biracial (white and Japanese) Rika feels like an outsider, an orphan with a temper who feels closer to the drawings of yokai, Japanese monsters, covering her bedroom walls. Until she meets Henry Chen, a heartthrob and movie star, who unexpectedly becomes Rika’s knight in shining armor. Together, they go on an adventure, dodging paparazzi and fans, to help Rika find answers about her birth mother. Deeply rooted Japanese customs and family are the heart of this compelling story, set in beautiful Los Angeles. Written in Rika’s perspective, Kuhn has created a protagonist who doesn’t fit the mold of a typical “princess.” Instead, she is spirited, fearless, real, and fights tirelessly for what her heart desires. Readers will surely fall in love with Henry Chen and the memorable and relatable cast of characters. The enthralling dialogue will keep readers engaged as they put together the pieces of the puzzle. The narrative delves into real-life issues facing youth who are biracial, orphaned, and dealing with cultural barriers and demands.
VERDICT An inclusive contemporary fairy tale that sheds light on important topics, this should hold a place on school and public library shelves.

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