Disclaimer: I received an ARC of I Love You So Mochi from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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 brave, fabulous, and like the Ultimate versions of themselves. But her mother sees this as a distraction from working on her portfolio paintings for the prestigious fine art academy where she’s been accepted for college. 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.
Summary: I Love You So Mochi
Japanese-American, Kimi Nakamura is fashion-loving teen who spends her time designing and sewing bold, creative outfits. The only problem is that her mother — a graphic designer who always wanted to be an artist — expects Kimi to become a “real artist.” To her, Kimi’s designs should remain a “hobby.”
Although Kimi has already been accepted to a reputable fine art college, she hasn’t told her mother that she’s dropped out of Advanced Fine Art and hasn’t painted anything all semester. When her mother finds out and is sorely disappointed, Kimi takes advantage of her estranged grandparents’ offer to visit Kyoto.
The best thing about this novel for me was JAPAN! Kuhn does a marvelous job of making Kyoto come alive; the cherry blossoms, the tanukis, and oh, the FOOD. If you enjoy Japanese cuisine, this book will make your mouth water. One of my favorite food scenes was Kimi’s visit to the McDonalds in Kyoto! I love reading about the small and large differences in franchises across continents.
Kimi is also an interesting protagonist: creative, sweet, awkward, and yet fierce when necessary. I enjoyed watching her character grow throughout her stay in Japan.
Besides Japan, Kimi’s grandparents with whom she spends a significant portion of the story are another high point. I found them very cute — her grandfather especially! They add an extra layer to the book’s plot as Kimi learns more about them and the strained relationship they have with their daughter, Kimi’s mom. I loved all the sewing and drawing and general artistic goodness of this book.
Kimi’s love interest, Akira, was nice enough, but not one of my favorites in the history of YA. Still, I liked how supportive he was of Kimi and how insanely thoughtful he was throughout the book.
Personally, I found the romance a bit difficult to connect to, but many other readers have loved it, so it might just be me. Akira’s character seemed lacking in depth and a lot of his reasoning felt unrealistic and immature, compared to Kimi’s. I also wasn’t particularly interested in Kimi’s emails to her mom. But that might just be my dislike for epistolary storytelling showing.I Love You So Mochi is a delightful, delicious young adult novel, perfect for anyone desperate for a trip to Japan on a page. Click To Tweet
I Love You So Mochi is a delightful, delicious young adult novel, perfect for anyone desperate for a trip to Japan on a page. Yet, it isn’t all fluff. It features a determined, artistic heroine and sheds light on all the ways parental pressures can change a person’s path in life. I would highly recommend this novel to fans of American Panda, fashion aficionados, and anyone whose dreams have run contrary to parental wishes.I Love You So Mochi by @sarahkuhn: Highly recommended for fans of American Panda, fashion aficionados, and anyone whose dreams have run contrary to parental wishes. Click To Tweet