Published by Scholastic Press on May 28, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Diversity, Romance, Young Adult
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Perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Kasie West, I Love You So Mochi is a delightfully sweet and irrepressibly funny novel from accomplished author Sarah Kuhn."As sweet and satisfying as actual mochi... a tender love story wrapped up in food, fashion, and family. I gobbled it up." -- Maurene Goo, author of The Way You Make Me Feel
Kimi Nakamura loves a good fashion statement.
She's obsessed with transforming everyday ephemera into Kimi Originals: bold outfits that make her and her friends feel like the Ultimate versions of themselves. But her mother disapproves, and when they get into an explosive fight, Kimi's entire future seems on the verge of falling apart. So when a surprise letter comes in the mail from Kimi's estranged grandparents, inviting her to Kyoto for spring break, she seizes the opportunity to get away from the disaster of her life.
When she arrives in Japan, she's met with a culture both familiar and completely foreign to her. She loses herself in the city's outdoor markets, art installations, and cherry blossom festival -- and meets Akira, a cute aspiring med student who moonlights as a costumed mochi mascot. And what begins as a trip to escape her problems quickly becomes a way for Kimi to learn more about the mother she left behind, and to figure out where her own heart lies.
In I Love You So Mochi, author Sarah Kuhn has penned a delightfully sweet and irrepressibly funny novel that will make you squee at the cute, cringe at the awkward, and show that sometimes you have to lose yourself in something you love to find your Ultimate self.
I was so looking forward to reading this book and had really high hopes for it but, sadly, it didn’t live up to my expectations. Being an Asian-Australian, I love reading about other diasporas and their experiences, and I thought I would absolutely fall in love with I Love You So Mochi because I love all things Japan. Unfortunately, I found the plot to be slow and dragging, the main character to be a bit juvenile, the dialogue to be awkward and kind of artificial, and the romance to be lacking in chemistry and honestly just unnecessary.
I Love You So Mochi follows Kimi, a Japanese-American girl who is artistic and loves fashion. Her mother, also an artist, has high expectations of Kimi being the next great Asian American artist and having opportunities that she never had when she was young. However, Kimi finds herself buried underneath the pressure that her mother is putting on her and hasn’t been able to paint anything for months. Instead, she finds comfort in designing and creating clothes for herself and her friends. When her mother finally discovers that Kimi has dropped out of her Advanced Fine Arts subject at school and is no longer interested in pursuing a career as an artist, Kimi decides to take her maternal grandparents up on a trip to their home in Kyoto in order to find herself.
I love a good coming of age and self-discovery story but I found I Love You So Mochi to be kind of basic and not that inspiring. While it’s not a lengthy novel at roughly 300 pages, that’s also quite a long time for Kimi to figure out that fashion design isn’t really just a hobby, considering that it’s the only thing she can ever talk about. The book felt extremely dragged out and I found myself mostly just skimming through most of it, waiting for something interesting or meaningful to happen. I did really appreciate how much Japanese culture was included in the book and the tour of Kyoto that the reader received, but that’s pretty much all that happened.
I enjoyed the relationship that Kimi developed with her grandparents in Kyoto and the family elements that were in the book. However, this wasn’t as prominent as I would have liked it to be. Instead, there was a huge focus in the book on a romance between Kimi and Akira, a boy she meets on her first real day in Kyoto, which I found to be awkward and kind of boring. Not to mention the insta-love, yikes. I would have much preferred for the book to have focused on the self-discovery and family aspects and I felt like these themes were underdeveloped because of all the attention that was put into a subpar romance.
I also found parts of the book to be confusing and not well thought out. There were some inconsistencies and certain things that seemed far too convenient. For example, Akira just happens to speak perfect English and it was never really explained why this might be the case… besides the fact that he enjoys watching English detective dramas. Kimi also couldn’t even say “sorry” in Japanese but somehow managed to have lengthy complicated conversations with her grandparents (it wasn’t until about halfway through the book that it was revealed that her grandparents had been taking English lessons but this seemed pretty convenient if you ask me). Don’t ask me how she managed to speak to other people while she was in Japan.
The dialogue in the book also really bothered me. Many of the conversations seemed either artificial or just really dramatic for no reason. This made Kimi and her friends come across as immature and juvenile, and this was an impression that I couldn’t manage to shake, which ruined the entire book for me.
There were many things that I was looking forward to in I Love You So Mochi, but I felt let down by the plot, characterisation and romance. The romance took away from many of the more important aspects of the book for me, and it was difficult for me to get into the novel from its early stages. As much as I would have loved to recommend this book, unfortunately there wasn’t much that I enjoyed about it besides the setting and the incorporation of Japan’s rich culture.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
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