• Karis Rogerson

"Tokyo Ever After" by Emiko Jean is a Masterful Modern Fairy Tale

Tokyo Ever After, a YA contemporary by Emiko Jean, takes all the best parts of The Princess Diaries, shifts them to Japan, throws in a sprinkling of bodyguard romance, some shady imperial family dealings, and packages it all up with a beautiful cover, complete with Reese's YA Book Club sticker.


I'm so happy that I finally got to read this book! I picked it up for school but I had such a fun time reading it and I would have gotten to it eventually anyway.

The book released in March, 2021 and takes starts out in Mount Shasta, California. Izumi, who sometimes goes by Izzy not because she prefers it but because it's simply easier than correcting people constantly, learns that her father is not just some man her mother met in college; he's also the Crown Prince of Japan.


And so begins a whirlwind journey that takes Izumi, and readers, across an ocean and into a whole new world.


I really appreciated the way this book tackled and deftly handled Izumi's bi-cultural reality. Though both her parents are Japanese so she's not biracial, she does struggle with being too Japanese in America and not Japanese enough in Japan. Add to that the fact that she's a commoner becoming royal, and imperial faux pas abound.


What I really loved about this book, in addition to feeling like I was literally in Tokyo and the way Emiko Jean masterfully brought to life all the side characters, was Izumi's relationship with her father and even her grandparents, the emperor and empress.


I think Emiko Jean really masterfully threaded the needle of giving us a satisfying father figure but also recognizing that Izumi and her father come from...entirely different worlds.


There is a certain suspension of disbelief that goes along with reading this book, but honestly it's been two days since I finished it and it just occurred to me that maybe some things aren't that believable, so I'd say Emiko Jean also does a masterful job of writing a believable yet fantastical fairy tale.


Fairy tale is pretty much what this book feels like. It takes a common dream, to be secretly royal, and spins it on its head, showing just how difficult that might be — just how much resilience would be necessary to make it work.


In short, I loved this book, and I can't wait to read the second, Tokyo Dreaming, in a few weeks.


Tokyo Ever After is available now (that link is an affiliate one for Bookshop.org, meaning if you use it I may get a commission), and Tokyo Dreaming (also an affiliate link) releases May 31, 2022. Emiko Jean can be found online at her website or on Instagram.

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