Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 432 pages
Author: Sarah Kuhn
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 11th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads
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?
I enjoyed this one! I don’t necessarily think it was intensely memorable or compares to some of the recent YA contemporaries I’ve read, but it had some charm and good moments.
The addition of Disney princess aspects was cute. Her cousins have princess names and the whole vibe of the book reads with different takes. I noticed Cinderella the most. It added a *magical* (no actual magical realism) touch to Rika’s quest.
One of my favorite aspects was Rika’s anger issues. That’s not something I’ve seen a lot of in young adult novels and I love the way it was approached. Many of the conversations made my teenage self feel seen. Rika may have struggle with it at times, but the support of those around her helped her see the strength of her passions. Other conversations such as stereotypes, being biracial, racism and fitting into the Asian community were also addressed.
For the romance, I was initially smitten. But the intense speed at which this flew had me trying to slam on the brakes. It went too fast, and took a turn I couldn’t get behind. Very sweet overall at least. Henry and Rika communicated well and really did lift each other up and I did love that.
It was an enjoyable read and one I would recommend!
Overall audience notes:
- YA Contemporary Romance
- Language: some strong
- Romance: kisses to one closed door
- Trigger/Content Warnings: racism, colorism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, parental abandonment, panic attacks, teen pregnancy (recounted)