"I'm here to take you to live with your father. In Tokyo, Japan! Happy birthday!" In the Land of the Rising Sun, where high culture meets high kitsch, and fashion and technology are at the forefront of the First World's future, the foreign-born teen elite attend ICS—the International Collegiate School of Tokyo. Their accents are fluid. Their homes are ridiculously posh. Their sports games often involve a (private) plane trip to another country. They miss school because of jet lag and visa issues. When they get in trouble, they seek diplomatic immunity. Enter foster-kid-out-of-water Elle Zoellner, who, on her sixteenth birthday discovers that her long-lost father, Kenji Takahari, is actually a Japanese hotel mogul and wants her to come live with him. Um, yes, please! Elle jets off first class from Washington D.C. to Tokyo, which seems like a dream come true. Until she meets her enigmatic father, her way-too-fab aunt, and her hyper-critical grandmother, who seems to wish Elle didn't exist. In an effort to please her new family, Elle falls in with the Ex-Brats, a troupe of uber-cool international kids who spend money like it's air. But when she starts to crush on a boy named Ryuu, who's frozen out by the Brats and despised by her new family, her already tenuous living situation just might implode. My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life is about learning what it is to be a family, and finding the inner strength to be yourself, even in the most extreme circumstances.
Elle Zoellner's life changes drastically on her 16th birthday, when Uncle Masa, a family friend, arrives in Washington, D.C., to take her to Tokyo to live with her estranged biological father, Kenji Takahara, a Japanese hotel mogul. Elle welcomes the opportunity: she has bounced from one foster home to another since her addict mother went to jail three months before. But she has difficulty adjusting to Japanese customs, her aloof and formal father, the wealth that suddenly surrounds her, and the daily reminder that she is both hafu ("half Japanese, half something else") and gaijin (a foreigner). When Elle begins attending an elite international school, she falls in with the "Ex-Brats," the school's coolest clique, and starts falling for a boy whom they've "frozen out." At home, she barely sees her father, and things are tense with her paternal grandmother and aunt. Who is her family, really? Cohn (Kill All Happies) creates a relatable fish-out-of-water story with a lively heroine and a message about substance abuse, but the finale is rushed, and attempts to highlight cultural differences are often distilled to simplistic idiomatic misunderstandings (Masa, an educated and well-traveled character, calls Coke "dark sugar water"), keeping Elle's family and experience from coming fully to life. Ages 14 up.
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I’m not one to read many books considering that I’m in high school and reading books at school seems like enough. However, I’ve recently decided to read more books outside of school. I find this book very interesting and the idea of moving/visiting Japan sounds wonderful. Through this book I was almost transported to Japan and it made my imagination run wild. I highly recommend this book to those who find an interest in Japanese culture and young adults like myself. Great Book!