Title: From Little Tokyo, with Love
Author: Sarah Kuhn
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: May 11, 2021
Celebrated author Sarah Kuhn reinvents the modern fairy tale in this intensely personal yet hilarious novel of a girl whose search for a storybook ending takes her to unexpected places in both her beloved LA neighborhood and her own guarded heart.
If Rika’s life seems like the beginning of a familiar fairy tale–being an orphan with two bossy cousins and working away in her aunts’ business–she would be the first to reject that foolish notion. After all, she loves her family (even if her cousins were named after Disney characters), and with her biracial background, amazing judo skills and red-hot temper, she doesn’t quite fit the princess mold.
All that changes the instant she locks eyes with Grace Kimura, America’s reigning rom-com sweetheart, during the Nikkei Week Festival. From there, Rika embarks on a madcap adventure of hope and happiness–searching for clues that Grace is her long-lost mother, exploring Little Tokyo’s hidden treasures with cute actor Hank Chen, and maybe…finally finding a sense of belonging.
But fairy tales are fiction and the real world isn’t so kind. Rika knows she’s setting herself up for disappointment, because happy endings don’t happen to girls like her. Should she walk away before she gets in even deeper, or let herself be swept away?
Seventeen-year-old Rika doesn’t believe in fairytales. Her two cousins, who she was raised with, are named after Disney Princesses: Belle and Aurora. Rika has never felt like she fit in anywhere. Her mother died in childbirth, and never knew her father, so she was raised by her aunts. Rika is half Japanese, so she has never fit in with their traditional Japanese community. She’s even too aggressive in her judo classes, with a reputation for biting a boy. Rika’s life changes when she catches the eye of Grace Kimura, the most popular rom-com actress, at a parade. That chance meeting makes Rika question the story behind what happened to her mother. Along with Hank Chen, a hot young actor, Rika goes on a hunt around LA to find her mother.
I loved the fairy tale aspects of this book. Rika’s family was obsessed with fairy tales. Her cousins were named after princesses, and they constantly watched romantic comedies. Since Rika didn’t feel like she belonged in her family or community, she didn’t think she deserved her happily ever after. Once she met her prince, Hank Chen, her life turned into the rom com she never expected.
A big theme of this story was fitting in. Rika didn’t feel like she fit in with her family, since she wasn’t a sibling, and she didn’t fit in with the Japanese community since she was only half Japanese. Rika felt like she was the only one to experience it, but then she learned that everyone feels left out at some point in their lives. Even the people who seem to get along with everyone wherever they go, don’t fit in everywhere. It’s easy to think that a problem is unique to yourself, but once you talk about it, you can learn what you have in common with everyone else.
From Little Tokyo, With Love was such a fun rom com!
Thank you Penguin Teen for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
A Taste for Love by Jennifer Yen
The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo
Have you read From Little Tokyo, with Love? What did you think of it?