Monday, April 04, 2022

Sweet Romance & Finding Where You Belong: Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean [Book Review]

My rating: 5 / 5 ★

I don't have an American half and a Japanese half. I am a whole person. Nobody gets to tell me if I am Japanese enough or too American.

If I were to describe Tokyo Ever After in simple words, I would say that the story is as sweet as cotton candy! It has similar vibes to The Princess Diaries, but instead of an unknown kingdom, the plot takes place in Japan.

Izumi Tanaka has always been curious about her origin, especially regarding the identity of a father that she never knew of. When her mother continues to refuse to talk about it, Izumi decides to find clues of her own... and finds out that her father is actually the Crown Prince of Japan. Soon enough, Izumi finds herself being flown to Japan to discover more about her roots and learn more of the royalty and culture. It is a story of searching for one's true self, family, friendship and forbidden romance.

Oh I adore Izumi Tanaka's character from the first page of the book! I find most of her words and actions to be rather amusing, and I secretly believe that if I know her in real life, I will want to be best friends with her. She is mostly impulsive, but that's her most adoring trait because she leads her life with her heart ♡ It is a big part of the story, and as someone who listens to her heart a lot too, I find myself to be able to relate to Izumi and I find most of her actions to be justifiable.

The earth forgets but I will always remember

Karaoke bars

Pharmacies and cups of tea

And plates of dorayaki

The major reason Tokyo Ever After has a special place in my heart is definitely the swoon-worthy forbidden romance with the handsome yet grumpy bodyguard—the sunshine x grumpy trope is executed perfectly in this book! I enjoyed Izumi and Akio's banter; they mock each other and throw snarky remarks a lot, but it's done so nicely that I find everything to be hilarious. And when they finally fall hard for each other? BOOM. The romance is disgustingly sweet and adorable, I feel like screaming to oblivion (੭ ˃̣̣̥ ω˂̣̣̥)੭ु⁾⁾ The way they touch and kiss each other, the way how gentle Akio becomes during their hushed moments alone, the secret dances, the short but meaningful haiku they write for each other—tell me, how can I not wish to have my own hot grumpy bodyguard to date in secret as well? HOW?

I also love that apart from the romance, the story highlights Izumi's relationship with her family and friends as well. I am glad that the mother-daughter relationship in this one is wonderful, and Izumi respects and loves her mother fiercely. Although her mother kept secrets of her father from her, she tries her best to understand her mother's intentions. I do believe that Izumi's father can be a good father to her too, which readers will probably witness in the sequel, but he does show a lot of effort in here too. A good relationship with parents are rather rare in young adult books, so I really appreciate the author giving two good parents for this book.

As for Izumi's best friends, especially Noora: They are a gem! I enjoyed their moments and conversations so much; the trust and care they have for each other are so touching. It's the kind of friendship that I have always wanted—friends like family 

"I'm still a work in progress."

"Aren't we all?"

Last but not least, I find Izumi's character arc to be a delightful journey to follow. I have mentioned above that I adore Izumi from the start, but it is quite clear that she can be passive at times too. The words “If you don't fly too high, you don't have too far to fall” definitely hit me hard, as I know how it feels to not be good enough when you know you have not tried hard enough. But as Izumi goes through a lot of backlash and hurt, she grows stronger and becomes someone confident about herself. She finally finds her true self, where she does not need to choose between being American or Japanese, because both are parts that make up her.

All in all, Tokyo Ever After has the sweetest forbidden romance, perfect for a feel-good moment and as a light-read. It also has great values of family, friendship and finding a sense of belonging. If you're a fan of The Princess Diaries or To All the Boys I've Loved Before, and other similar stories, please do pick Tokyo Ever After as your next read!

Many thanks to Pansing for sending me this book in exchange for my honest review. Tokyo Ever After is available in all good bookstores, and the sequel is coming out next month, so be ready!


Title: Tokyo Ever After
Series: Tokyo Ever After #1
Author: Emiko Jean
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: May 27th 2021
Pages: 319

Synopsis (Goodreads): Izumi Tanaka has lived an uneventful seventeen years in her small town, keenly aware of all the ways in which her family is different from most of her classmates’. But then Izumi discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity . . . and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan.

Soon she’s traveling overseas to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she's only 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?


Till next time ♡ Love, Aishah Humaira'

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