My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life by Rachel Cohn
Hyperion / Disney
Publication Date: December 18, 2018
On her 16th birthday, American foster teen Elle Zoellner is informed that her never-before-discussed father is a successful Japanese businessman who has sent for her to come live with him in Tokyo. Elle must face her past by meeting the father she never knew she had, while also contending with her mother who abandoned her to opioid addiction and is now in prison. What’s more, she has to adjust to the differences between Japanese and American life while living in a luxurious hotel and navigating an elite international high school.
This is a coming-of-age Cinderella story that holds special appeal for fans of Japanese culture as it is set against the glittery backdrop of Tokyo. The characters who Elle meets in Japan are a diverse set, and the protagonist herself is relatable to young readers: she lacks pretension and faces everyday adolescent concerns with believable angst. The novel’s pacing remains steady until a slightly abrupt and happily-ever-after ending. However, the tone and relatability of the main character will appeal to teens and draw them into an engaging story that reflects a larger world, making this a strong contender for YALSA’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers.
This is a great choice for readers of manga or contemporary fiction, and those who enjoy Netflix high school dramas such as To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Elite.