Thank you so much to the publishers and Netgalley for sending me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izzy discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity… and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.
In a whirlwind, Izzy travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.
Izzy soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairytale, happily ever after?
Normally, I would avoid books that centre around royalty but something about this book intrigued me from the minute I heard about it. I cannot lie to you and say the cover did not have any influence on me but the synopsis is what actually dragged me into wanting to read Tokyo Ever After. It read exactly like a rom-com and was so easy to visualise. It would make an absolutely amazing film adaptation.
Right from the start of the book I was drawn right into Izumi’s life and how fun this story was. Izumi is an incredibly relatable main character and things she said made me laugh out loud. She is down-to-earth, fun and figuring out who she is and what she wants from life. Also, the fact she wears sweatpants/joggers on the plane makes me so happy for no reason! Her friends and their friendship is so beautiful to read too.
I loved the parental relationships that Tokyo Ever After shows. It isn’t often in YA books that we get to see a close mother and daughter relationship, so it is really refreshing to see that with Izumi and her mother. We see Izumi and her mum keep secrets from each other for different reasons which puts tension into their relationship but the unconditional love that they have for each other is so evident and beautiful! When it comes to Izumi’s father, we get see two people build a relationship from scratch and all the complexities surrounding that. I loved seeing how their relationship varied when it was in the public eye verse when the pair were alone.
When it comes to the romance of this book, I think this is the first time I’ve ever read the bodyguard trope. This book has me wanted to read more of the trope in the future though. It certainly isn’t the first time I’ve read the enemies to lovers trope, which I absolutely adore in Tokyo Ever After. The romance is sweet and and I want to see more of the pair.
I enjoyed the fact that this book focuses a lot on identity and finding out where you belong. We see Izumi feel like she doesn’t belong in her predominantly white town, in California, then hope that she will fit in in Japan. Then we see her excited to be in a place where the general population look like her. Then suddenly have to come to terms with the fact that language and cultural barriers cause her to be an outsider in Japan too. This is all written incredible well and you can tell so much thought has been put into it.
If you are looking for a sweet romance, the enemies to lovers trope with a royalty storyline throughout then this is the book for you! I cannot recommend this book enough to bring a smile to your face. Bring on book two!