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YA Review: I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn

Title: I Love You So Mochi
Author: Sarah Kuhn
Year Published: 2019

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 308
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2019 Google Reading map)Japan

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): 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 after 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 her disaster of a life.

When she arrives in Japan, she finds 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.

Review: After a few heavy books I was looking forward to this light and fun novel and this book fit that exactly. At first I thought I wasn't in the right mood, that it would be too fluffy for me: teenage fashion and romance, but this book ends up being so much more.

Kimi is a fun character. She has wonderful best friends and is way into fashion, but doesn't see that it can be her life's passion and goal. She is currently "fighting" with her mom and uses the tension as an excuse to visit her unknown grandparents in Japan. On day one she meets a cute boy who is also really nice and has dreams of his own to be a doctor. I love that Kimi sees the wonder in the world, is open to new adventures, wears her heart on her sleeve, and incorporates the world into her clothing designs. We need more teens who are comfortable being who they are as Kimi is.

Japan is a great setting for this book: the colors, the teen fashion, the traditional kimonos, and the incorporation of nature and tranquility within a city all play a role in Kimi's awakening. I also really liked the role Kimi's grandparents play in Kimi's realization that her parents are wonderful and love her and will support her. In fact, this is one of the things this book does best: family and understanding other people.

Challenges for which this counts: 

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