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From Little Tokyo, with Love

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Celebrated author Sarah Kuhn reinvents the modern fairy tale in this intensely personal yet hilarious novel of a girl whose search for a storybook ending takes her to unexpected places in both her beloved LA neighborhood and her own guarded heart. If Rika's life seems like the beginning of a familiar fairy tale--being an orphan with two bossy cousins and working away in her Celebrated author Sarah Kuhn reinvents the modern fairy tale in this intensely personal yet hilarious novel of a girl whose search for a storybook ending takes her to unexpected places in both her beloved LA neighborhood and her own guarded heart. If Rika's life seems like the beginning of a familiar fairy tale--being an orphan with two bossy cousins and working away in her aunts' business--she would be the first to reject that foolish notion. After all, she loves her family (even if her cousins were named after Disney characters), and with her biracial background, amazing judo skills and red-hot temper, she doesn't quite fit the princess mold. All that changes the instant she locks eyes with Grace Kimura, America's reigning rom-com sweetheart, during the Nikkei Week Festival. From there, Rika embarks on a madcap adventure of hope and happiness--searching for clues that Grace is her long-lost mother, exploring Little Tokyo's hidden treasures with cute actor Hank Chen, and maybe...finally finding a sense of belonging. But fairy tales are fiction and the real world isn't so kind. Rika knows she's setting herself up for disappointment, because happy endings don't happen to girls like her. Should she walk away before she gets in even deeper, or let herself be swept away?


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Celebrated author Sarah Kuhn reinvents the modern fairy tale in this intensely personal yet hilarious novel of a girl whose search for a storybook ending takes her to unexpected places in both her beloved LA neighborhood and her own guarded heart. If Rika's life seems like the beginning of a familiar fairy tale--being an orphan with two bossy cousins and working away in her Celebrated author Sarah Kuhn reinvents the modern fairy tale in this intensely personal yet hilarious novel of a girl whose search for a storybook ending takes her to unexpected places in both her beloved LA neighborhood and her own guarded heart. If Rika's life seems like the beginning of a familiar fairy tale--being an orphan with two bossy cousins and working away in her aunts' business--she would be the first to reject that foolish notion. After all, she loves her family (even if her cousins were named after Disney characters), and with her biracial background, amazing judo skills and red-hot temper, she doesn't quite fit the princess mold. All that changes the instant she locks eyes with Grace Kimura, America's reigning rom-com sweetheart, during the Nikkei Week Festival. From there, Rika embarks on a madcap adventure of hope and happiness--searching for clues that Grace is her long-lost mother, exploring Little Tokyo's hidden treasures with cute actor Hank Chen, and maybe...finally finding a sense of belonging. But fairy tales are fiction and the real world isn't so kind. Rika knows she's setting herself up for disappointment, because happy endings don't happen to girls like her. Should she walk away before she gets in even deeper, or let herself be swept away?

30 review for From Little Tokyo, with Love

  1. 4 out of 5

    Claude's Bookzone

    CW: (view spoiler)[panic attacks, racism, homomisia, anger management issues (hide spoiler)] 3.5 Stars Well that was an enjoyable story about family secrets and falling in love. It was also a good exploration of Rika's experience being biracial. I thought the anger management plot line was done pretty well. It was interesting to read a YA story that also looks at what is considered shameful behaviour in some communities. An engaging read with some great dialogue. CW: (view spoiler)[panic attacks, racism, homomisia, anger management issues (hide spoiler)] 3.5 Stars Well that was an enjoyable story about family secrets and falling in love. It was also a good exploration of Rika's experience being biracial. I thought the anger management plot line was done pretty well. It was interesting to read a YA story that also looks at what is considered shameful behaviour in some communities. An engaging read with some great dialogue.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher for promotional purposes. This was such a cute and heartwarming story! I loved the representation in this. Both the main characters are biracial. Rika is Japanese and white and Hank is Filipino and Chinese. I am biracial myself (Filipino and white) so I related a lot to them. I really resonated with something Rika said. She states, “But it’s not like white people look at me and think I’m one of them” (pg. 130). I have felt that way my who I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher for promotional purposes. This was such a cute and heartwarming story! I loved the representation in this. Both the main characters are biracial. Rika is Japanese and white and Hank is Filipino and Chinese. I am biracial myself (Filipino and white) so I related a lot to them. I really resonated with something Rika said. She states, “But it’s not like white people look at me and think I’m one of them” (pg. 130). I have felt that way my whole life. Also in terms of representation, Rika’s aunts were lesbians which I found very refreshing and important especially in regards to the Asian American community. Often times LBGTQA+ people are not accepted by the Asian American community and this book highlighted that fact. I liked that the Rika was flawed. So many young adult female leads are written as perfect people, so it was nice to see one who had flaws. It made her feel more realistic. I also enjoyed that the city of LA was utilized well. Numerous books just use LA as a backdrop but never explore the city. Here, it was given a life of its own and featured lesser known attractions like the old Griffith Park Zoo (I never knew this existed and need to check it out!). Lastly, going back to Asian American communities, this book delved into the shortcomings of said communities. One character states, “I really wish so many of our communities would just, like, acknowledge that anger isn’t always a bad emotion…You can’t just reject it — you have to let yourself feel it, make room for it, or all that repressing will burn you up inside” (pg 313). That is so true. We are often taught to just hold our anger inside but that isn’t healthy. We can and should be angry. Additionally, the book also talks about shame in relation to not being what is considered to be “perfect” in the community. Overall, this book was relatable with a super cute romance, but it also struck a more serious note and shed a light on the Asian American experience.

  3. 4 out of 5

    michelle (magical reads)

    read on my blog rep: ownvoices biracial (Japanese, white) protagonist, biracial (Filipino, Chinese) love interest, wlw Japanese-American side characters, Japanese-American side characters cw: racism, homophobia **I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley (thank you, Penguin Teen!). These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.** I have to find her, I realize . . . And not just to unravel the mystery of my past. I have to find her because for that read on my blog rep: ownvoices biracial (Japanese, white) protagonist, biracial (Filipino, Chinese) love interest, wlw Japanese-American side characters, Japanese-American side characters cw: racism, homophobia **I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley (thank you, Penguin Teen!). These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.** I have to find her, I realize . . . And not just to unravel the mystery of my past. I have to find her because for that brief moment when her eyes locked with mine, I felt a flash of connection with another person that was so powerful, it brought tears to my eyes. Maybe, like me, she doesn’t belong to anyone. Maybe we could belong to each other. I’ve really enjoyed Sarah Kuhn’s other books, particularly her adult series, so of course, I was so excited for her next YA release! The premise of this book also sounded so intriguing. From Little Tokyo, with Love is a story of love, in your community and your family, and perhaps most importantly, for yourself. Rika has never truly felt like she’s belonged. She’s half-white in a majority Japanese-American community, and she was adopted by her aunts. On top of this feeling is her propensity to anger, earning her a reputation for being “difficult.” During the annual Nikkei Week Festival, she accidentally runs into Grace Kimura, a famous actress. When she realizes that Grace might be her long-lost mom, she enlists Grace’s co-star, Henry, to help her track her down. I really liked the characters in this book! Rika has an anger problem, which is interesting to see in a YA book, but she realizes that shouldn’t necessarily equate to being difficult. I found her journey to find where she belongs (and herself along the way) very heartfelt. I also liked Henry’s own character arc as he struggled with fame and being typecast in stereotypical roles. Rika’s cousins, Belle and Rory, are so supportive of Rika too, and I really liked seeing their relationship! The romance was really cute! Henry is a great love interest, who’s going through his own things yet also provides a lot of support for Rika. They had some really sweet scenes, as well as some really funny ones. “I believe in your happy ending,” he says, and the certainty in his voice makes my heart skip several beats. “Because I believe in you.” Much of this book is centered on Rika feeling like she doesn’t belong, primarily because she’s biracial, both Japanese and white. She’s grown up in Little Tokyo, where she sticks out and people never fail to remind her of her roots. She and Henry bond over being biracial and how they feel themselves yet struggle with their identity simply because of what people tell them they are. I liked how this book approached identity, especially from an author who’s building this on her own experiences, and I think this is very important to see in fiction today. The plot itself was fun to follow; Grace is completely off the grid, but Rika desperately wants to find her. She and Henry embark on a quest to find her, exploring landmarks in Los Angeles and Little Tokyo. In the end though, this book is about Rika’s character development, but I liked seeing the plot and her character growth occur in parallel. From Little Tokyo, with Love was a heartwarming book about finding yourself. I really liked the characters and the romance. If you’re looking for cute romances, stories set in L.A., or ones with biracial protagonists, I definitely recommend From Little Tokyo, with Love! original review: ohhh this was very cute!! I really loved the characters

  4. 5 out of 5

    Romie

    this book resonated so much with me. I saw myself in Rika's anger, loneliness and hurt. I cannot express how happy I am that biracial kids will be able to see themselves represented in this book, will be able to see that they're not alone in their feelings and experiences. this was such a lovely book about self-discovery and believing in your own happy ending! (4.22) trigger warnings: racism, homophobia thank you so much PRH for sending me a review copy! this book resonated so much with me. I saw myself in Rika's anger, loneliness and hurt. I cannot express how happy I am that biracial kids will be able to see themselves represented in this book, will be able to see that they're not alone in their feelings and experiences. this was such a lovely book about self-discovery and believing in your own happy ending! (4.22) trigger warnings: racism, homophobia thank you so much PRH for sending me a review copy!

  5. 4 out of 5

    rachel ☾

    ➸ Trigger warnings for (view spoiler)[racism (on-page & discussed), colourism, sexism, ableism (off-page), lesbomisia, parental abandonment, anxiety, panic attacks (on-page), teen pregnancy recounted, and invasions of privacy (paparazzi) (hide spoiler)] . ▷ Representation: Rika (mc) Japanese-American; Henry (mc) Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram ➸ Trigger warnings for (view spoiler)[racism (on-page & discussed), colourism, sexism, ableism (off-page), lesbomisia, parental abandonment, anxiety, panic attacks (on-page), teen pregnancy recounted, and invasions of privacy (paparazzi) (hide spoiler)] . ▷ Representation: Rika (mc) Japanese-American; Henry (mc) Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram

  6. 4 out of 5

    cossette

    3.5 rounded up i think !!! overall v. cute & wholesome ! content warnings for: racism, homophobia, absent parents, panic attacks/anxiety, invasion of privacy

  7. 5 out of 5

    Booktastically Amazing

    BRING ON THE CHEESY BEAUTY, PLEASE.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dahlia

    Aw, I really liked this. It's rare in YA to see a heroine talk about struggling with anger issues, and while people with tempers are definitely a trigger for me, it's so rare to see it be a girl who has one that I really appreciated it. The romance is super sweet, there's a lot of conversation about being biracial, which I'm sure will mean a lot to readers who seem themselves in it, and if you're passionate about LA, this book is definitely a love letter, not just to Little Tokyo but to the enti Aw, I really liked this. It's rare in YA to see a heroine talk about struggling with anger issues, and while people with tempers are definitely a trigger for me, it's so rare to see it be a girl who has one that I really appreciated it. The romance is super sweet, there's a lot of conversation about being biracial, which I'm sure will mean a lot to readers who seem themselves in it, and if you're passionate about LA, this book is definitely a love letter, not just to Little Tokyo but to the entire city.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Toya (the reading chemist)

    4.5 stars rounded up! Why is it always the books that absolutely tear me apart in the best possible way that I have the hardest time trying to review? This was my first book by Sarah Kuhn and needless to say, it will not be my last. Rika has always been an outsider. She’s half-white in the majority Japanese American community of Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. Following the her mother’s death in childbirth, Rika was raised by her aunts. Rika is unlike her sisters (cousins). She has a propensity for 4.5 stars rounded up! Why is it always the books that absolutely tear me apart in the best possible way that I have the hardest time trying to review? This was my first book by Sarah Kuhn and needless to say, it will not be my last. Rika has always been an outsider. She’s half-white in the majority Japanese American community of Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. Following the her mother’s death in childbirth, Rika was raised by her aunts. Rika is unlike her sisters (cousins). She has a propensity for anger, which has been attributed to her white father and has given Rika the reputation of being difficult and not Japanese enough. During the renowned Nikkei Week Festival, Rika (literally) runs into the famous Japanese American sweetheart Grace Kimura, who she realizes may actually be her mother…damn those aunties and their lies! With the help of Grace’s co-star Henry (also biracial: Filipino and Chinese), Rika decides to uncover the truth about her mother and track her down. I LOVED Rika’s character. Yes, she’s been labeled as angry and difficult, which is at odds with traditional Japanese culture as the author addresses. But let’s be honest, she knew virtually nothing of her parents and being biracial automatically puts you as an outsider. As someone who also is biracial, Rika’s anger and pain was so much of what I endured throughout my life. Rika is too Asian to be white, and too white to be fully appreciated by the Japanese American community. I also loved that the love interest in this book was biracial but differed from Rika. Henry is Filipino and Chinese he touches on the complications that exist even when you have two cultures within the same race such as colorism (love when the colorism issue is on page…so freaking important!). Henry is a cinnamon roll after my own heart. His public image comes off as a bit self absorbed, but as you get to know him and his circumstances, you realize that there’s more to Henry than what’s on the surface. One of the other things that I loved in this book is the way queerness within the Japanese American community is addressed by the author. Rika’s aunts are lesbian and have been together for decades. While their queerness has been begrudgingly accepted (for reasons), that isn’t to say that they did not struggle to be accepted in Little Tokyo. Furthermore, one of Rika’s sisters is pansexual, and she faces a lot of the same prejudices as her mothers. I could honestly keep gushing about this book. I didn’t even get to all of the adventures that Rika and Henry embark on while looking for Grace, but I’m just going to stop here. This book is incredible, and y’all really just need to read it. And if you're a crier, have the tissues on deck. Thank you to Penguin Teen for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Raven

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 2.5 Thank you to penguin teen for sending me an eARC of this book. I was super excited to get to know Rika, A half Japanese half American girl living in Little Tokyo LA. She lives with her two aunts and her two cousins and always wondered who her parents were. She has an interesting encounter with Grace Kimura, A famous Hollywood Asian actress which makes her believe that Grace could potentially be her mom. With the help Of an upcoming asian actor named Henry, they start their adventure of finding 2.5 Thank you to penguin teen for sending me an eARC of this book. I was super excited to get to know Rika, A half Japanese half American girl living in Little Tokyo LA. She lives with her two aunts and her two cousins and always wondered who her parents were. She has an interesting encounter with Grace Kimura, A famous Hollywood Asian actress which makes her believe that Grace could potentially be her mom. With the help Of an upcoming asian actor named Henry, they start their adventure of finding clues and discovering if Grace really is her mom. The beginning of the story was excellent. Rika was such an interesting character and her temper was completely out of control. It reminded me a lot of Kyo from Fruits Basket. I loved the representation with her aunts and the representation of having a mixed identity and what that feels like living in an Asian community. It was really interesting to see the struggles that she face living in a home that from the outside looked very loving but still felt isolating to the main character. I enjoyed the chemistry between the two main love and trust and I really enjoyed these clues that they were finding in order to find the mom. Around the 50% mark is when it went downhill. The romance became an interesting because suddenly the characters had things figured out and the romance was solved halfway through the book. Then in the second half of the book The characters decided to stop trying to find the mom and instead try to help Henry the actor be successful in an audition he really wanted. The book just took a really weird turn halfway through I continue to read because I really wanted to know if Grace is her mom. I was hoping for a really interesting twist at the end that I would not have seen coming but… The ending was mushy, predictable and anti-climactic. I think it’s a cute sweet contemporary and I still think they’re a lot of people out there who would enjoy it. My favourite parts of the book was definitely the different little Tokyo sites The food and the language that was present throughout the story. I think this book was just trying to do too much and really just need to focus on one or two things. It was trying to be about family, self identity, race, mental health, and more. And because it was trying to take all of this and put it into one, it just took away from other things of the story I still think a lot of young readers will enjoy it and if you read it I hope you enjoy it to.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anniek

    I had very high hopes for this book, because I absolutely adored I Love You So Mochi. And while this was a disappointing read for me, that was very much because there was a mismatch between my expectations and what this book actually was. I was fully expecting another wholesome YA romance, but while this did have a romance, and I did mostly like it, the tone of the book was very different from what I expected. I don't think it was necessarily bad, but it caused a disconnect for me and I didn't e I had very high hopes for this book, because I absolutely adored I Love You So Mochi. And while this was a disappointing read for me, that was very much because there was a mismatch between my expectations and what this book actually was. I was fully expecting another wholesome YA romance, but while this did have a romance, and I did mostly like it, the tone of the book was very different from what I expected. I don't think it was necessarily bad, but it caused a disconnect for me and I didn't end up enjoying myself. I might give this book a second chance later on to see if I will enjoy it with the right expectations. So please take this review with a grain of salt!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Celina

    From Little Tokyo, with Love was such a charming and heartfelt read. I loved seeing so much representation in this book. Rika is biracial (Japanese and White) as well as Henry who is Filipino and Chinese. Just want to say Henry is the softest angel of a love interest and should be protected at all costs! Kuhn really showed the heart of Los Angeles. Growing up there made it fun for me to read through the eyes of Rika and Henry. It made me a little homesick but I really loved it. I also enjoyed lea From Little Tokyo, with Love was such a charming and heartfelt read. I loved seeing so much representation in this book. Rika is biracial (Japanese and White) as well as Henry who is Filipino and Chinese. Just want to say Henry is the softest angel of a love interest and should be protected at all costs! Kuhn really showed the heart of Los Angeles. Growing up there made it fun for me to read through the eyes of Rika and Henry. It made me a little homesick but I really loved it. I also enjoyed learning more about Little Tokyo, as I only ever visited a handful of times. What really stood out to me was the wholesomeness use of fairy tales in this story. I loved that Rika’s cousins were named after Disney princesses and I adored how the outro of every chapter was written in a classic story book style. It was very cute without being cringe! It added a lot of whimsical and light hearted feels. Another aspect I appreciated was having a character that dealt with anger issues and another deal with body image and anxiety. It isn’t something that is commonly explored in young adult novels. There was also some racism and internal identity conflicts. Rika, is biracial and would have white “friends” would feel comfortable to claim they are spiritually Asian while some Japanese people don’t want to claim her because of not looking “Japanese enough”. As a “white passing” minority, I related a bit to the struggles explored in this book. White people would want me to share my culture while Mexicans wanted me to prove I am one of them. I don’t want to get off topic into my own struggles as we are talking about different cultures and identity in this novel, but this is why this aspect resonated with me somewhat. A large part of the story was tracking down Rika’s famous biological mother. I enjoyed the clues arounf Los Angeles and how the history of Grace (the mother) was explored and revealed. The ending was so satisfying and it made my heart swell. Perfect to read so close to Mother’s Day in America! If you love young adult contemporary romances, pick this up! It is a quick read filled with the magic of fairy tales and Little Tokyo. I will definitely read more from Kuhn in the future!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Trinh

    3.5 stars This book is definitely a love letter to Little Tokyo and its community. You can tell the author has a soft spot for the place through her writing. As for the characters, I really like all of them. It's nice to see Rika, our main character, grow throughout the entire book. Also, I feel bad for her since she has gotten so much hate from Craig and his dad. I adore the romance between Rika and Henry in this book. There are many scenes of the two of them hanging out and discussing what it's 3.5 stars This book is definitely a love letter to Little Tokyo and its community. You can tell the author has a soft spot for the place through her writing. As for the characters, I really like all of them. It's nice to see Rika, our main character, grow throughout the entire book. Also, I feel bad for her since she has gotten so much hate from Craig and his dad. I adore the romance between Rika and Henry in this book. There are many scenes of the two of them hanging out and discussing what it's like being biracial and not being accepted in their communities. Seeing them navigating their relationship is pretty great since I love them together. As for my critique, I wish things aren't being repeated all the time. Whenever we read from Rika's perspective, there are certain things being told to us numerous times, so by the end it feels redundant. But overall, I really enjoy this book, and I think people'd enjoy this as well. Thank you to Penguin Teen for providing me with an ARC!!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ariel

    This is Sarah Kuhn’s first book and I can confidently say that I will be continuing to pick up whatever she releases! I thoroughly enjoyed this one! What I loved: - representation! Not only is there racial representation, but there is also LGBTQ+ representation! Our MC Rika is Japanese and white, and her love interest is Chinese and Filipino. Her aunts are lesbian, and one of her sisters is pan sexual. - issues on the page. I love that Kuhn addressed many things on the page, like stereotypes and c This is Sarah Kuhn’s first book and I can confidently say that I will be continuing to pick up whatever she releases! I thoroughly enjoyed this one! What I loved: - representation! Not only is there racial representation, but there is also LGBTQ+ representation! Our MC Rika is Japanese and white, and her love interest is Chinese and Filipino. Her aunts are lesbian, and one of her sisters is pan sexual. - issues on the page. I love that Kuhn addressed many things on the page, like stereotypes and color issues, and even struggles people that are biracial face. In this case for Rika, she is too white to fit in with the Asian community and too Asian to fit in with the white community. While this isn’t a struggle I personally face, I have many friends who struggle with this exact issue so it really spoke to me. - an MC with anger issues! I have been a reader for 10+ years, and have to say it was incredibly refreshing to see an MC struggle with it. Especially a female MC! - the romance between Rika and Henry is *chefs kiss*. I absolutely loved their sweet romance. Henry is a new top favorite cinnamon roll character!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rameela (Star)

    Initial Thoughts: This was so relatable and fun and such a quick read! Full review also on my blog: This was such a fun and light read! I was instantly attached to Rika because she was so relatable! I loved that she was flawed in the sense that she had the tendency for outbursts and anger because honestly, same girl. I didn’t even realize this was like a Cinderella sort of tale until after I finished the book, so that was great because it clearly was unique enough to stand on its own! Like I said b Initial Thoughts: This was so relatable and fun and such a quick read! Full review also on my blog: This was such a fun and light read! I was instantly attached to Rika because she was so relatable! I loved that she was flawed in the sense that she had the tendency for outbursts and anger because honestly, same girl. I didn’t even realize this was like a Cinderella sort of tale until after I finished the book, so that was great because it clearly was unique enough to stand on its own! Like I said before, Rika is a flawed, really well rounded and extremely relatable character. I loved reading in her point of view because we get to see all of her insecurities and her inner monologues and her passion and anger! I also loved the male lead and how we get to see more than just the whole famous actor kind of trope. I loved that he struggled with fitting in and wanting to get roles that he wasn’t just typecasted in. And seeing both the character struggle with the not quite one or the other ethnicity was really relatable and interesting to read! Sarah Kuhn did an amazing job making all the characters extremely well rounded! The book flew by with lots of wild goose chases, drama, and emotion! I finished the book in one night because it went by so quickly! While the plot itself was fun to follow, I just really appreciated that this story wasn’t JUST a fun rom-com (though I loved the chemistry and the cuteness!). It was overall a story of community and family and trying to be your authentic self. If you want a drama filled fairy tale retelling this is definitely for you! If you like flawed characters that are misunderstood and go through a lot of growth, badass judo flips, mysterious scavenger hunts (or maybe wild goose chases!), family drama and beautiful relationships, I would highly recommend this book!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kaya

    I’ve said it once (at least ten times) and I’ll say it again: contemporaries and I aren’t the best of friends. But the synopsis had the word fairytale in it, which meant I went weak. Again. But I’m happy I read this, because it was very much a lovely modern fairytale contemporary story*! *adjectives are my strong suit. for better or for worse. Rika is biracial: half Japanese, half white/ She doesn’t quite fit into the Japanese community of Little Tokyo, yet she also doesn’t fit in with white girls I’ve said it once (at least ten times) and I’ll say it again: contemporaries and I aren’t the best of friends. But the synopsis had the word fairytale in it, which meant I went weak. Again. But I’m happy I read this, because it was very much a lovely modern fairytale contemporary story*! *adjectives are my strong suit. for better or for worse. Rika is biracial: half Japanese, half white/ She doesn’t quite fit into the Japanese community of Little Tokyo, yet she also doesn’t fit in with white girls. She’s hot-tempered, and loves dark Japanese folktales far more than the fuzzy, sappy Disney movies her cousins are named after. Watching her slowly come to terms with the vulnerabilities she tries so hard to hide while also not losing her red-hot spark was a great experience. Her character was written in such a believable way too! I never felt that she was angry as a “unique personality trait” or that her character arc was forced in any way. Henry is biracial as well, half Filipino, half Chinese. I absolutely adored the way he and Rika connected over their shared experiences of not being totally one thing, not fitting in, and yet coming to terms with their own identity as an individual with a mixed background. I totally resonated with this aspect of the book, in case you couldn’t tell. Also, Henry is just adorable! In the process of letting Rika drag him all over Little Tokyo in search of her mother, he learns to deal with his own identity crisis and struggles. Which brings me to my next point: community is such a powerful thing, and in the COVID pandemic it’s been so hard living without it, or at least not on the same level it was before. But truly, this book portrayed the Asian community (specifically the Little Tokyo Japanese community) as being both flawed and inextricably tied together in such a beautiful way. The concepts of strong friendships, blood family and adopted family, and romance without any caveats were honestly the starring roles in this book. That was the heart of this fairytale: the power of relationships and how important they are to an individual. As much as I enjoyed certain pieces of this book, others just fell flat for me. Some might be bothered by the sheer amount of rom-com coincidences but I actually loved them! They felt naturally unnatural if that makes sense. However, with that being said, I did find myself feeling a little bit impatient with the plot. It often felt like we had tread through certain conversations before: like okay Rika, we get that you have a temper!! We don’t need you to think about it constantly or tell Henry about it every other minute! It also felt that the actual events lagged just a bit. I wasn’t as invested in the details of what was happening the way I wanted to be, unfortunately. I also think that this book could have been just a bit shorter. There were some great moments for Rika, some great moments for Henry, and some fantastic moments that really captured the spirit of the modern fairytale. The addition of Rika’s two aunts and her cousins Belle and Rory doing their best to support her but at times not understanding her, was handled really well. However, sometimes the dialogue felt forced, stilted, too much “rom-com” for what it was worth. It’s the same with the plot: in movie form, the amount of unnecessary scenes wouldn’t have been bad! But when I’m reading, I’m a bit more impatient. Which…might just be a me problem come to think of it. So that’s it! I know that this might not be the most descriptive of reviews, but I honestly believe that the strength of this story lies in its characters and messages. a huge thank you to penguin teen for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jay G

    Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer... *I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review* 3.5/5 Stars 17 year old Rika has never felt as if she belonged. She is biracial and lives with her two aunts and her two princess-like cousins, after becoming an orphan when her mother died in child birth. During the annual parade, Rika locks eyes with Grace Kimura, Little Tokyo's romance movie star, and Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer... *I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review* 3.5/5 Stars 17 year old Rika has never felt as if she belonged. She is biracial and lives with her two aunts and her two princess-like cousins, after becoming an orphan when her mother died in child birth. During the annual parade, Rika locks eyes with Grace Kimura, Little Tokyo's romance movie star, and her whole world is turned upside down. With the help of up and coming movie star Hank Chen, Rika begins the journey to discover whether or not Grace is her long-lost mother. This was a pretty cute romance with interesting enough characters. I definitely liked Hank more than Rika. At times, Rika frustrated me, but I do love that she had flaws and wasn't perfect. I did like the exploration of her feelings of not belonging and her anger issues. I honestly enjoyed Hank's character arc and his struggle with being in the limelight more interesting than Rika's story. I loved Belle and Rory as side characters, they were so sweet and loving toward Rika and her feelings and I enjoyed seeing their relationship in this. Overall, it was a cute romance, and I enjoyed my time reading it!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Kathryn Wright

    4.5/5 ⭐️ The characters were amazing especially Rika, she was easy to connect with and you are always rooting for her. I also thought it was interesting the main character was often talked about having an anger problem because that’s not often discussed in young adult books. Henry, the love interest, I surprisingly liked a lot because for a while he had this perfect image showing but I’m glad we got to see more sides of him like his worries and insecurities about fame and getting stereotypical ro 4.5/5 ⭐️ The characters were amazing especially Rika, she was easy to connect with and you are always rooting for her. I also thought it was interesting the main character was often talked about having an anger problem because that’s not often discussed in young adult books. Henry, the love interest, I surprisingly liked a lot because for a while he had this perfect image showing but I’m glad we got to see more sides of him like his worries and insecurities about fame and getting stereotypical roles. And his friends that Rika meets are all great and I wish there was more time with them. As for Rika’s cousins Belle and Rory, I have mixed feelings, overall I think they are nice. But there were moments the author indicated especially with Belle where they would get angry with Rika for standing up for her family or herself. So, I was surprised nothing more was done with that. As for the romance, I thought it was done really well in the beginning but with Rika running away a few times their connection was kind of lost to me. But the romance was overall pretty good and I like them together. And the relationship between Rika and her family it was great seeing them come together in the end. Also, the moment between Rika and her mom was perfect. The plot was really good and I liked it was centered on Rika’s character development through her trying to learn and find her mother Grace. Overall, this is a really heartwarming story about finding oneself.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Wow. I would love to rate this 2 stars, but the message and plot was I think meant from a good place. I had many issues with this book. Believe me, i wanted to like this so bad. It felt like it would be a fantastic book. Here are some of my thoughts. 1. Don’t fight racism with racism. It doesn’t solve anything. I’m a white person, and the amount of racist remarks about white people was just sad. It took me away from the story and I couldn’t bring myself to appreciate the message of the book becau Wow. I would love to rate this 2 stars, but the message and plot was I think meant from a good place. I had many issues with this book. Believe me, i wanted to like this so bad. It felt like it would be a fantastic book. Here are some of my thoughts. 1. Don’t fight racism with racism. It doesn’t solve anything. I’m a white person, and the amount of racist remarks about white people was just sad. It took me away from the story and I couldn’t bring myself to appreciate the message of the book because I was angry at the stereotypes of white people. Why is this author so narrow minded about white people who have a passion and a love for Japanese culture? Why hate on them for loving a different culture? That blows my mind. I love Japan and would love to live there some day, and this author just shot my dreams down and basically sneered at anyone who appreciates Japanese culture. Well damn, sorry I’m a white person who loves Japan and it’s people. 2. This YA book sure had a ton of language, which really surprised me. 3. I didn’t care for the ending as much as I hoped. This girls family treated her like she wasn’t part of them and like an outcast, and suddenly at the end they all loved her (mostly talking about the Aunties) and are now a great big happy family. Years of abusive relationships don’t get resolved over a story. 4. I’m glad for the closure regarding Grace, but there’s still a part of me that’s angry at giving Rika all these clues and meeting places and never showing up or reaching out at all. Wouldn’t you at least try to reach her like through a new email or phone? Idk just seemed the story didn’t convince me enough. If I was Rika, I would still be upset at getting my hopes up all those times. Overall I really did appreciate the story and the message trying to be portrayed, but I ultimately didn’t like being hated on for my own skin color and a few of the bigger problems with the plot. Still would recommend reading. It’s an important topic for any person of color to read, and I applaud the author for being bold enough to share it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cassie

    Adorable, funny, sweet, and fierce! ⠀⠀ This audiobook was just what I needed! Two people finding their way to their own happy ending, through racial stereotypes and prejudices, family betrayals and insecurities, doubt and anxiety.⠀ ⠀⠀ A bit of Cinderella, a lot of heart, a smidge of insta-love, tons of self-discovery and hope and forgiveness. Go give it a listen! Emily Woo Zeller narrates spectacularly!⠀ Thank you to PRH Audio for the gifted audiobook!

  21. 4 out of 5

    ضحى الحداد

    I really enjoyed this book, it had a nice feel and it was more than about a girl searching for her mom .. So the story is about Rika who lives with her aunt and cousins in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles and she always felt that she doesn't belong, then on the day of the Nikkei Week parade she discovers that her mother is a well known super star .. so she goes on an adventure to discover who is her mother and why she left her all these years with the help of the cute actor Henry ( who is the cutest I really enjoyed this book, it had a nice feel and it was more than about a girl searching for her mom .. So the story is about Rika who lives with her aunt and cousins in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles and she always felt that she doesn't belong, then on the day of the Nikkei Week parade she discovers that her mother is a well known super star .. so she goes on an adventure to discover who is her mother and why she left her all these years with the help of the cute actor Henry ( who is the cutest marshmallow EVER!! ) and they fall in love and they heal their wounds together I really enjoyed the atmosphere of this book, since I never went to Little Tokyo it became a must visit on my list because she described it so beautifully .. the ending was really nice and overall it was a nice enjoyable book and I look forward to read more of this author books

  22. 5 out of 5

    USOM

    (Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) TW: racism, panic attack From Little Tokyo, with Love is a love letter to those who feel like they don't belong. Like you're on one wavelength, and everyone else is on another. Like you don't fit in with your family and - as someone who is a transracial adoptee - this hit HARD. It's a story about the importance of believing you're deserving of a happy ending. That a fairy tale, that w (Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) TW: racism, panic attack From Little Tokyo, with Love is a love letter to those who feel like they don't belong. Like you're on one wavelength, and everyone else is on another. Like you don't fit in with your family and - as someone who is a transracial adoptee - this hit HARD. It's a story about the importance of believing you're deserving of a happy ending. That a fairy tale, that we might see ourselves in, could belong to us. I'm not going to lie, these two character developments and themes that Rika struggles with, got me in the feels. When Rika has a moment of emotional vulnerability where she hopes that, if she found her mom, they could belong to each other? That hurt me deeply in the ways it resonated with the cracks of my heart. While I am not biracial like Rika, I felt her feelings of isolation and not belonging so astutely. And From Little Tokyo, with Love is a love letter to the importance of being able to see ourselves in something. full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    First off, I want to thank Penguin Teen for sending me this book through NetGalley for review! From Little Tokyo, With Love is modern fairy tale retelling(?) that follows Rika, a girl who would rather be a nure-onna (terrifying Japanese yōkai) than a princess. Apart of a family with princess obsessed sisters she often feels like an outsider due to her biracial background, judo skills, and temper. But, Rika's life is more like a fairytale than she would like to believe when she finds out her mom m First off, I want to thank Penguin Teen for sending me this book through NetGalley for review! From Little Tokyo, With Love is modern fairy tale retelling(?) that follows Rika, a girl who would rather be a nure-onna (terrifying Japanese yōkai) than a princess. Apart of a family with princess obsessed sisters she often feels like an outsider due to her biracial background, judo skills, and temper. But, Rika's life is more like a fairytale than she would like to believe when she finds out her mom might be actually Grace Kimura, the queen of Hollywood romantic comedy scene. Rika goes on an adventure to find more clues about her mother but along the way has she found her own prince charming to help her journey? She learns about her family, her home, and even herself as she finds out what belonging really means. I think this was a cute book but I was overall pretty let down. Let's start with my rating which is 3/5 stars. Now let's talk about what I liked. I think it was really interesting to hear about different biracial identities and I honestly think that was the best part of this book. There were really important messages about racism in her community and white people which I think is a side we don't always hear about. But, I am not the best person to talk on this aspect of this book since I am white and have not had these experiences so I am going to leave it alone for now. I think the romance was actually a surprise stand out for me. I wasn't expecting a ton of romance going in and I was expecting pretty surface level stuff and this exceeded my expectations. Henry was fun to read about and he balanced out Rika really well. They were really cute together and I think all of their moments together felt really authentic which is nice to see because often times in YA I think romance can be a little too cheesy for my tastes. All though I do have to say., talk about insta-love... which I wasn't the biggest fan of but I can look past that. I think my biggest problem with this book is that I felt like almost nothing happened? If that makes sense. I thought the whole point of this book was to find her mom and they would occasionally try to find her but really this whole book was just a romance which isn't a problem I just wish it had been advertised as that or there had been more about the mom. I would forget about the mom and then all of a sudden it was like oh yeah isn't that what they're supposed to be doing? I also felt like judo was was less important than I thought it was going to be. I wanted to see Rika perform for the UCLA scout and hear more about it but I felt like it was brushed under the rug. Again, the romance was also very rushed in my opinion and for once I would like to see a couple know each other for at least a couple of weeks before there are declarations of love. I also overall didn't really like Rika. I understood her growth and character arc but she just frustrated me a lot. She kind of gave me I'm not like other girl vibes especially when she kept dumping on "princesses" like you can not like something without bashing it and those who do like it. I also understood she had some anger problems but there was so many times where she was just like nope and then ran away... which felt weird but maybe that's just me. I don't think this was a bad book but I just don't think it was for me. I probably wouldn't recommend this book myself but I'm sure there are plenty of readers that would enjoy this book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mac (bookshelfpalace)

    Thank you to Penguin Teen for providing me with an e-arc of the book! From Little Tokyo, with Love follows Rika as she finds out that the famous actress Grace Kimura might be her mother. Since Grace is currently nowhere to be found, Rika teams up with Henry, a famous actor currently filming a movie with Grace, and the two of them explore Little Tokyo while trying to find Grace. Despite Rika and Henry not knowing each other for too long, the two characters instantly form a bond that allows them to Thank you to Penguin Teen for providing me with an e-arc of the book! From Little Tokyo, with Love follows Rika as she finds out that the famous actress Grace Kimura might be her mother. Since Grace is currently nowhere to be found, Rika teams up with Henry, a famous actor currently filming a movie with Grace, and the two of them explore Little Tokyo while trying to find Grace. Despite Rika and Henry not knowing each other for too long, the two characters instantly form a bond that allows them to speak openly with one another and talk about things that they have not discussed with anyone else. Their relationship was by far one of my favourite things about the book. I also enjoyed exploring Little Tokyo with Rika and Henry as they tried to find Grace. Throughout the book the two characters visit various different places in Little Tokyo. Some new to Rika and some places that Rika used to visit when she was a kid. Every single stop they make you get to learn more about the two characters and it continues to grow your hope that they will sometime soon find Grace. From Little Tokyo, with Love was a great read and I would recommend you pick it up, especially if you are like me and love to read contemporary books throughout the summer! 4/5 stars

  25. 4 out of 5

    Elvina Zafril

    I think this was a cute book. I can’t say that I enjoyed this book but it was pretty good feeling I had for this one. This is my first book from Sarah Kuhn, anyway. Rika’s story is just like a modern fairytale. Rika’s family is obsessed with princesses. She’s always feel like an outsider due to her biracial background and her judo skills that she possessed. The journey of finding her mother started when Rika found out that Grace Kimura, the queen of Hollywood star might be her birth mother. Along I think this was a cute book. I can’t say that I enjoyed this book but it was pretty good feeling I had for this one. This is my first book from Sarah Kuhn, anyway. Rika’s story is just like a modern fairytale. Rika’s family is obsessed with princesses. She’s always feel like an outsider due to her biracial background and her judo skills that she possessed. The journey of finding her mother started when Rika found out that Grace Kimura, the queen of Hollywood star might be her birth mother. Along the way in finding her mother, did she get to meet her prince charming? What I liked about this book is the interesting biracial identities. I liked that the author addressed us about the racism in her community and white people. I liked the romance part. I think Henry and Rika are just cute together and with Henry there, I felt like it balanced out Rika so well. I also liked all the part where the author presented about the different side of Tokyo, the food and the language. However, I did feel like like after 50% of the book, the story went downhill. It was almost like nothing happened and I don’t know if it’s just me but why it suddenly like that? (you know i cannot tell because it will be a spoiler). Read the book, if you want to find out what really happened. The ending was predictable to me though. I was hoping for an interesting plot twist at the end but I didn’t get that. Well, I think they are more young readers would enjoy this book more than me. I guess, maybe this book wasn’t for me. Thank you Times Reads for sending me From Little Tokyo, With Love in exchange for an honest review. This book is available at all good bookstores.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Hâf

    From Little Tokyo, With Love is a modern reinvention of a classic fairy tale, with a dashing love interest, a complicated family and a main chatacter that doesn't quite fit the princess mold. Rika is biracial, brilliant at judo and has a fiery temper, which she often describes as her inner Nure-onna, a mythical creature with the head of a woman and the body of a snake. I loved the integration of Japanese folklore into a contemporary story and the way Rika used the Nure-onna to describe her consta From Little Tokyo, With Love is a modern reinvention of a classic fairy tale, with a dashing love interest, a complicated family and a main chatacter that doesn't quite fit the princess mold. Rika is biracial, brilliant at judo and has a fiery temper, which she often describes as her inner Nure-onna, a mythical creature with the head of a woman and the body of a snake. I loved the integration of Japanese folklore into a contemporary story and the way Rika used the Nure-onna to describe her constant feeling of anger and abandonment. This novel focuses mostly on family and Rika's journey to understanding and loving herself. The descriptions of Los Angeles were beautiful and created the perfect fairytale setting. I enjoyed From Little Tokyo, With Love and I will definitely be reading the author's previous book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mayar El Mahdy

    I love everything Sarah Kuhn, I guess. She writes the best YA stuff. This a Cinderella retelling without the cruel step-family. There's a cool Japanese fairytale woven into it and the whole thing comes together beautifully. It's so cute and adorable. Everyone should read it. I love everything Sarah Kuhn, I guess. She writes the best YA stuff. This a Cinderella retelling without the cruel step-family. There's a cool Japanese fairytale woven into it and the whole thing comes together beautifully. It's so cute and adorable. Everyone should read it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    What a lovely book, a modern fairy tale about identity and belonging. I think it's her best yet. (And oh, the food descriptions! Get me some cheese katsu, stat!) What a lovely book, a modern fairy tale about identity and belonging. I think it's her best yet. (And oh, the food descriptions! Get me some cheese katsu, stat!)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Online Eccentric Librarian

    More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ The book felt very ambivalent to me in that the fairy tale cutesy premise overlaid characters with a lot of angst and anger over superficial judgements from both the outside non-Asian communities as well as their own Asian communities. It didn't feel like a fun book and the message quickly became a repetitive agenda that overshadowed plot, characters, and even the heart of the book. Even more problematic for me, the o More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ The book felt very ambivalent to me in that the fairy tale cutesy premise overlaid characters with a lot of angst and anger over superficial judgements from both the outside non-Asian communities as well as their own Asian communities. It didn't feel like a fun book and the message quickly became a repetitive agenda that overshadowed plot, characters, and even the heart of the book. Even more problematic for me, the only character I liked or even felt was remotely realistic was the setting of Los Angeles itself, to which this book is a sweet love letter. Story: Little Tokyo in Los Angeles exists in its own world: despite pressures from the outside world traditions still hold strongly. Identities can be questioned or disdained, as is the case with Rika Rakuyama - a daughter of Japanese and Caucasian parents and adopted daughter of a same-sex couple. The Rakuyamas have a precarious position in Little Tokyo despite generations having lived there. When the big Nikkei week parade and celebration happens, movie star darling Grace Kimura is set to be grand marshall. When Grace panics at first sight of Rika in the car behind her, Rika realizes something is very wrong and that this stranger, who calls out her name, may actually be the mother she thought dead. Rika embarks on a journey to find the suddenly MIA Grace, enlisting the assistance of Grace's handsome young costar, Henry Chen. The book has many 'fairy tale' undertones (including Rika's half sisters being named Belle and Aurora) but they contrast poorly with a plot with heavy messages about the challenges facing Asian Americans. From Rika's problems being ostracized and ridiculed for being a 'half breed' by her own Japanese community to Henry's problems being both Chinese and Filipino in a world that wants to label and compartmentalize him. Nearly every character (including all the members of the Asian actor club) will talk about the discriminations they face being Asian. So while I appreciate and respect that there is still a problem with this issue even in this modern age, the message was so heavy and so often repeated that it became laborious and overshadowed the plot. Another problem for me were the characters. Rika was probably the most annoying character I read all year, constantly losing her temper, yammering about being a Japanese demon, and just being honestly kind of stupid in about everything she did. We're given reasons later for these characteristics by other characters who honestly likely would never have been that astute in real life. Everyone seems to always say the right thing to psychoanalyze other characters and it felt both unrealistic but also heavy-handed by the author. Henry was overidealized, Rika had a character arc that went from 0 to 100 every ten pages, and I found I intensely disliked the labeling/denigrating of Caucasians who came to Little Tokyo with a love of Japanese culture as despicable 'Beckys' by the locals. It made a lot of the Japanese characters seem mean and petty. The best character of the book and best aspect had to be the various Los Angeles locations. From Little Tokyo's sundrenched malls to the abandoned zoo at Griffith Park and amusement park at Santa Monica Pier. These were all great locations that were well described and we could easily see why the characters really loved those places. I really enjoyed reading about the locales and little nooks and crannies that made those places special. In the end, I can say that the book has a good message (if belabored) and great locations. But unrealistic and very unlikeable characters made everything else a chore to read. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mia

    2.5 stars Book has good message but some dialogue and pacing in general was off.

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