By Cecilia Vinesse.
Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven days to say good-bye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days…until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything.
Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. And Jamie is the one who helps her pick up the pieces. Sophia is forced to admit she may have misjudged Jamie, but can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye?
To be honest, I was hesitant to pick up this book because of its cover. However, after seeing it twice at the bookstore, I realized it was having the desired effect of attracting me to it, and when I read that it was set in Tokyo I was convinced to give it a chance.
The first thing I can tell you about this book is that it gave me a lot of Lost in Translation vibes, from a teen point of view. It’s about Tokyo as seen by foreign eyes, and I think the author uses the city in a really beautiful and subtle way. Everything everyone does in this book screams Japan without drawing too much attention to it, because our characters are not tourists seeing the sights, they have all lived there for a while. They are all teens from outside of Japan who go to an international school, which means they’re not necessarily invested in learning about the culture or the language, they’re just going to school with a lot of other foreign kids.
I have read some Japanese books, and they are all immersed in the culture, which is very different than ours. This book doesn’t have that, because again, it’s told from a foreigner perspective. And I loved it.
I’ve been to Tokyo twice, and I felt like I was back there while reading this. From the Tokyo Tower and the Meiji Shrine to Hachiko and the Starbucks in Shibuya, I felt like I was right there with these characters. I went to karaoke, had ramen, strolled Tokyo by night with them. The book really takes advantage of its setting, and it made me want to go back to Japan a third time. Maybe next year!
The story is also quite cute, with a romance intertwined with a deeper issue that runs throughout the book, the issue of figuring out where you belong and where home is when you’re constantly moving and changing friends. I could relate to this, because I also moved around quite a bit when I was younger, albeit never leaving the country.
The romance was well developed and managed to escape the insta-love scenario due to the fact that Sophia and Jamie already knew each other from years past, and they’d already been good friends before Jamie left. In fact, I liked the whole cast of characters, from the friends to the sister, they all felt real to me.
Another thing I appreciated were the small nods to the 90s, from mentioning Buffy the Vampire Slayer and My So-called Life, to referring to Debra from Empire Records when a character shaves her head.
I really enjoyed this book. Tokyo as the backdrop still manages to come through as the vibrant city it is, and the foreign perspective on it is very true to life.
And about where home is, I leave you with this:
I think you choose. I think you choose where you belong, and those places will always be there to remind you of who you are.
You just have to choose them.
4 hearts out of 5.