As an adoptee who always thought, “maybe I’m a long lost princess” The Princess Diaries was one of my favorites growing up. So when I saw Tokyo Ever After with a long lost Japanese American princess well I was sold. Tokyo Ever After delivers a charming contemporary story that I finished in under two days. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izzy discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity…and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.
In a whirlwind, Izzy travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.
Izzy soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairytale, happily ever after?
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
I will forever be a fan of lost princesses. What struck me about Tokyo Ever After was not only the narration style – which was charming and endearing at once – but also Izumi’s feelings growing up in a mostly white community. The ways she shortens her names, looks for it on key chains, and her own self-erasure. Those scenes were like echoes of my own teenage years. Tokyo Ever After is infused with Izzy’s quirkiness, her character that screams off the pages. Another element I loved was the relationship between Izzy and her parents.
Her feminist and outspoken mother, her dad who has a good heart, but is struggling to be a new father. As an adoptee, I think another way Tokyo Ever After came for my heart was the way Izzy feels like it was just her and her mother against the world, but not by her own choice. How the lack of information and choices made by others, which put your life into motion, feels almost like that choice is taken away from you. And th ways she pins hopes and dreams on finding our parents, that connection to a country we want to belong to? Ooff….all the feels.
Don’t even get me started on how much I loved this royal/body guard romance story line. Seriously – the romance is one of my favorite elements for its yearning, swoon worthy scenes, and tension. Overall, Tokyo Ever After was just such a precious feel good read. There’s just enough depth to counter act the sweetness. Will these missing pieces of Izzy’s past give her a sense of who she is? To find her own sense of acceptance?
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