Spring and Summer always puts me in a contemporary romance mood similar to how I read more fantasy come fall. I’ve always been a mood reader, but seasons impact that just as much as anything else! I think this book in particular had been one I found when building my anticipated releases of 2021 list, so yet another perk of blogging??
Tokyo Ever After as it was marketed does follow the Princess Diaries a little in its storyline as Izumi/Izzy reaches out to her father whom she had only recently found out about. Hoping for just a shot at knowing her father she is unprepared for the media attention, family politics, etiquette, and world of Tokyo, Japan that engulfs her life as she attempts to spend time with the one person it was all for.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
I really enjoyed this book and the author’s style of writing. It was incredibly easy to get attached to Izzy, her life, and get sucked into the sudden upheaval of it when she sets out to write to her long lost father. I was nervous for her and equally shocked at the events that followed. I wouldn’t say that the story was filled with plot twists, or mystery around every corner; that wasn’t the goal. Instead this book has a strong uniqueness with its take on the concepts from Princess Diaries, and on the struggles that Izzy and her friends face in Mt. Shasta.
The first one, the concepts of Princess Diaries, Mia finds out she’s a princess and her struggles mainly revolve around learning etiquette, living up to her grandmother’s expectations, and a few key things about the country of Genovia. Emiko Jean lends more credibility to her story as upon getting on the airplane Izzy is handed a binder covering everyone she needs to know and is expected to learn it herself. From there it is learning Japanese, the culture, history, etiquette (with some unique Japanese touches), and already making public appearances. As an American that is a struggle in itself since we dress very casually, aren’t really expected to learn other languages (though encouraged in some schools), nor would she have any background knowledge on Japan to really go off of unless she researched it herself. I always felt like Mia had a very quick transition period, so this felt more on par with the struggle it would be to transition to a role as a public figure. Think Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton, both went from relatively well off lives to being duchesses, but even then there is a lot of pressure/expectations lobbed at you, and not all of it wants you to succeed. It just felt like this was closer to accuracy, while showing Izzy’s inner strength in the process.
The other big pull for this story is Izzy’s struggle to feel like she belongs. In America especially inclusivity is a huge topic of discussion, but in some ways it’s a hard thing to introduce. In this instance it mainly is her hometown, which is a predominantly white town, so her small friend group is essentially the small minority group as well. Finding out about her father sparks a need in her to connect to her missing ancestry, but upon arriving to Japan she is faced with a culture very different to what she’s known, nor is it quite the fit she had hoped for. It’s a big piece of Izzy’s character development and one that had me really feeling for her as she struggled to figure out where she belongs in the world.
Overall, I really got sucked into this book, and its characters. I literally finished this book and felt so happy reading this that 5 stars just felt right. In a year of struggling to read, this one was a much needed addition to my reading challenge.