After finishing The Rage of Dragons on the Apple Books app I wasn’t sure what my next eBook would be. I try not to spend to much on eBooks in general and really only buy ones I find for a decent sale so of course I went searching in the under $4 section to see what might catch my eye. We are always told don’t judge a book by it’s cover, especially with eBooks since you don’t even have the physical book to put on display when you’re finished, but I’ll be honest the cover of this book was so appealing to me that I just had to see what it was about, plus it was only 2 dollars at the time I purchased it!
The book itself is written by Sarah Kuhn and follows the story of Kimi who is an Asian American high school student and aspiring artist living in California. She wants to make her mother proud by following in her footsteps and becoming a a great artist like she is. Her mother comes from a traditional Japanese background and upbringing in Japan while her father is Japanese but was born and raised in America. This put a bit of strife between her mother and her mother’s parents who would have rather seen her married to a traditional Japanese man and stayed in Japan with them. They didn’t want her to be an artist, which is why she now pushes Kimi so hard to be one herself.
Kimi believes she wants to follow her mother’s footsteps, but eventually she realizes that she isn’t having fun with it anymore as she can’t seem to get past the artistic block she finds herself facing in the lead up to her future. She isn’t sure how to progress when one night she receives a letter from her maternal grandparents with a ticket to come and stay with them for spring break. Some other things happen to lead up to her decision but she decides to go to Japan and stay with them, which is when the story really begins to take off.
I am someone who adores all things Japanese and reading books like this where there is nothing out of the ordinary that happens, it’s just a slice of life type story, is interesting. It lets me see what some of the day-to-day monotony of Japanese life is like, as if I was a tourist experiencing the journey right there alongside Kimi. I want to travel the world one day and Japan is definitely at the top of that list so this little insight into what that might be like is welcomed and I really enjoyed it from that perspective. Kimi brings a very unique perspective to Japan, being Asian American, and she feels so at home amongst the people who look like her while at the same time feeling like an outcast who can’t really communicate and doesn’t know the cultural taboos. Kimi is an easily like-able and relatable character who you want to see be successful and find what she is looking for.
Once she is in Japan she meets a boy named Akira, who becomes an integral part of the story and helps her on her way to find out her mission in life. Everything about Akira is sweet and genuine and he is so excited to show her around Japan and help her figure out what her passion is. I really enjoyed the way his character is written and the way he helps Kimi grow in her pursuits.
The other big characters in the book are her Obasan and Ojisan, her grandmother and grandfather. She meets them for the first time in her life when she arrives in Japan and while it takes a while for her grandmother to open up to her, her grandfather welcomes her with love and compassion immediately. As she grows closer to them she realizes that there is an entire part of her culture and family she wasn’t aware of and laments lost time but realizes that this is as good a start as any and decides to make sure things are different going forward.
There are also her friends Bex and Atsuko who she talks to from time to time, mostly about dating advice. They serve to push her toward Akira and give her the confidence she needs from time to time. They’re good friends to her and want the best for her, but being in America while she’s away in Japan makes it difficult for them to impact the story in any real meaningful way.
So the main message of the story is about finding your passion and pursuing it no matter the obstacles that stand before you, at least that’s what I got from it. This book came to me in a time where I am unsure of my own path forward in life. I work, I am in school, and I have passion projects that, like Kimi, I brush off as something I wouldn’t be able to make a serious living from. Reading this book makes me want to pursue these passions I have for writing and really try to make something of it. I’m obviously working on this blog, but I am also currently writing a book and these have always been nothing more than passion projects that I do for fun. I am beginning to think Kimi is on to something and maybe I should go after the things I enjoy and make them into something I can live off of.
This is a book I recommend to anyone who either loves to read about Japan or someone trying to find their passion in life and how best to chase it. I thought this would just be a light, fun read but I ended up with a story of passion, romance, and familial regret that delivered above and beyond any hopes I had for it.
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