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  • Lilly Schmaltz

Book Review: 'Tokyo Ever After' by Emiko Jean

Izumi grew up without her father, but she and her mom have done just fine. One day, while browsing through her mother’s books, Izumi learns who her father is…the Crown Prince of Japan. Despite never having connected with her Japanese heritage, Izumi is whisked off to Tokyo to learn about her family and culture. Will she crack under the pressure?

I didn’t expect to relate to our main character, Izumi, as quickly as I did. Izumi never knew her father and, as a result, always felt a little displaced. Furthermore, she has been disconnected from her Japanese heritage. When people ask her about her Japanese roots, she can’t answer. Even within the first few chapters, I saw my own struggles as a transracial, international adoptee reflected on the page. "Tokyo Ever After" may be something of a modern fairytale, but it instantly resonated with me and had me hooked.

The remaining book was a whirlwind of royalty and fairytale amidst an identity crisis. She experiences great pressure to be the perfect Japanese princess under the public’s eye. She grew up not knowing her father and with limited information about her mother’s family. As a result, she wasn’t exactly sure where she belonged or what her roots were. Again, while I can’t relate to Izumi discovering she is a princess, I can relate to her intense struggles with not connecting with her culture.

The story was nicely paced and Jean was able to fit a lot of character development into this YA novel. I lost track of some of the characters, but there was a handy family tree diagram at the beginning that I could refer to. Even with a lot of plot developments, I appreciated seeing Izumi’s relationships with her family and friends. Each person helped her develop while having their own identities.

Overall, this was a very fun read. "Tokyo Ever After" not only provides some Asian representation in a modern day fairytale, but also introduces challenging themes surrounding identity and culture. There was a lot packed into just 320 pages and there is so much more that could be explored. The sequel, "Tokyo Dreaming," will be released in 2022, and I am eagerly awaiting its publication date.


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