Hi! It’s Annie!
Today I need all the distractions that I can take. And while my day began with my main distraction being Ateez; I have now remembered that I haven’t reviewed this amazing book. I saw this book while I was at Barnes and Noble and immediately looked it up after I found the back of the book to describe an incredibly interesting plot. When I then saw several people saying this book was a cross between ‘The Princess Dairies’ and ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ in the reviews, that sealed my fate. I had to have this book. And it was not at all disappointing! This is another one of my favorite books I’ve read in a while for so many reasons. One of them being the intense deep dive into what it is to be a young woman. Another being the way Jean tackles how the media universally treats young women. If you haven’t picked up a copy of this book, I highly recommend you do before continuing this review. This is a SPOILER review, because I have so much to say about this book. On top of gushing about one of the most adorable romances I’ve ever read in fiction. So I’m just going to get right into it now!
Summary: Izzy is a Japnaese-American High Schooler who is constantly confused about her place in the world and obsessed with a piece of herself that she swears is missing. Everything starts coming together when she finds out that her Father is actually the Crown Prince of Japan, but being a royal may be far more difficult than she anticipated. And through it all she finds out that the real question lies in getting to know herself. Who is she really?
Main Female Character- Izzy was not only relatable but was also the focus of this story in such a beautiful way. This book felt like a love letter to young women still trying to figure out who they are. It is also a love letter to women of color who feel torn between two worlds. Izzy is not popular and she doesn’t try to be fashionable, something I highly identify with from when I was in High School, and she only relies on her small close group of friends and her Mother. When she finds out that her Father is actually the Crown Prince of Japan, she feels like she finally has a shot at fully figuring out who she is and where she came from. And her journey to find herself is absolutely what’s most important in this book. It’s not just about her learning how to act like a Princess, it’s about the mistakes she makes and how the mistakes are natural and more impactful to who she is than if she hadn’t taken the chances that she does. Though romance is a big plot point in this book, the real love that this book explores is self love. And Jean keeps you on the edge of your seat simply with a story of self growth. Izzy’s sass and intelligence is more than enough to make her a fun narrator to follow along with as well.
Main Male Character- Akio made me melt every time. I’ve always had a soft spot for the bodyguard romance trope and this is the softest and sweetest example of that trope that I have ever found. Akio is adorable. From attempted seriousness to an absolute fondness for Izzy that he can’t seem to help. And his own backstory with his parents is just too heartbreaking and adorable at the same time. He’s one of those tough characters with the softest personality after you only begin to chip off the rough edges. And I smiled from ear to ear when he came back at the end of the book. He has that effect with all of his appearances. He doesn’t just make Izzy feel safe; it gets to the point where all of his appearances make you feel safe too. I always love it when an author can create a character so convincingly comforting that it makes me feel that way, so I knew I adored this book because of this fact alone not far into getting to know Akio.
The Romance- It’s not just a bodyguard trope, it also starts out almost enemies to lovers-ish. Though not completely, they do start out on the wrong foot. He doesn’t think she’s very responsible and in turn, she becomes very angry when she finds out he put a tracker in her phone. But either way, they completely trust each other from the beginning and only learn to put more trust in each other as the book goes on. And yes, I absolutely swooned when he covered her during the shooting scare. (Don’t worry, it wasn’t actually a shooting.) It’s also a travel to a different country and meet the love of your life trope, which is another trope that I’m head over heels for. This romance is almost too perfect for me as a reader. The fact that the book was also semi-realistic about them having to sacrifice in order to be together was a nice touch. I liked that he resigned both for himself and for their relationship! I was in love with this romance for the entirety of the book and this is quite possibly the main reason why I haven’t read the sequel yet. We’ll see if I eventually get around to it, but I’ve never been a fan of love triangles. And I love Akio so much! I may not be able to resist the sequel in the end, but the romance in this book is perfection and will not be beaten in my eyes!
The Friendship- Izzy has her own girl squad in this book and, though none of the characters appear a lot, I loved this friendship. I’m always a fan when a book or show takes the time to explore a female friendship. I was delighted when Izzy texting her friends was something that came up multiple times and I found myself falling in love with each member of the friend group for their different and complementary personalities. I loved the female support system!
The Family- This was another one of the most important pieces of the book. I loved Izzy’s relationship with her Mom and how amazingly cool her Mom was. I loved the fact that she wore all of those feminist T-shirts! It actually reminds me of my Mom! I was so invested in her getting to know her Dad and how open he was to her and who she was as a person. I absolutely adored the end of the book where her Dad stayed with her and her Mom in the states for a while. Especially how understanding and just happy he was even when she and her Mom stopped traffic to get to him. And the Grandfather and Grandmother blew me away in their understanding too. I especially loved her conversation with her Grandmother. Seriously, the women in this book have the best advice, are badass, and amazing. I adored the depiction of women in this book; but the men in the family were pretty cool too.
Japan- As much as this is a love story about Izzy finding herself, it’s also a love story between Izzy and Japan. Not only was Japan painted in such a magical light in this book, but the significance of it being a part of Izzy was beautiful. I loved when Izzy truly found she could connect with Japan and that she truly belonged there in some sense. Those moments were some of the most satisfying in the entire book. And you also truly fall in love with Japan through Izzy’s eyes.
Media- The author is not kind to the way the media treats famous people and I am always all for that. I have talked several times on this blog about how much the media intruding into the lives of famous people gets on my nerves, and she perfectly demonstrates that this is also incredibly bad for royalty. And even worse for royal women. In a recent interview Emma Watson talked about living up to impossible standards and paparazzi sexualizing her in the media the minute she came of age. This book sharply looks at how willing the media is to tear down young girls in general, especially if they are in the spotlight. Unless you literally save a baby, everything that you do is perceived by society to be completely wrong. And that’s a monstrous way to treat young women, or really anybody.
The Language- I think the only issue I had with the way the book was written was some of the teenage language used in it. Some of it would sometimes feel overly slang-y or a little outdated. Slang is changing so quickly now, especially with social media, so I understand it to a point. But there were still times where I felt some of the sentences said by Izzy or her friends felt a bit unnatural.
The Cousin- One of the main twists of this book is that Izzy’s trusted cousin for the majority of the book ends up selling her out and releasing the information that she’s dating her bodyguard. Though this was an interesting twist, I would have liked to see a little more leading up to it. Other than the fairly inappropriate way that he treats his own bodyguard (I liked that Izzy stole her for herself at the end), it feels like there’s not a lot that foreshadows the sudden change. I really liked that it wasn’t the twins that sold her out, but I would have liked a little more lead up and explanation as to why it was him.
The Twins- I had to talk about this, especially as a twin on this blog. This depiction of twins was too much of a stereotype to me in this book. They didn’t ever act independently of each other and they seemed to act as the same character in two different bodies. It really bugged me and I would have had more of a problem with it if they had appeared more. I know that the new book has more of them in it, so I hope that the sequel is much better at writing them individually!
Though I do have a few issues with it, I overall really loved this book. It captured my heart after only a few chapters and it is a perfect lighthearted read. I also loved how all the wisest characters were women. That especially feels like something I wanted to highlight today. A lighthearted read is a commodity for me right now and I can’t get enough of these adorable romances I’ve been able to pick up over these last couple weeks. Between my anger from today and my anger over people not getting the hint and leaving BTS alone, I have a lot to escape from right now. I really hope that some of you might be able to pick up this book and feel like I did reading it. Like you’ve found the perfect escape at the exact same time that you found a book that covered topics that just felt so relatable. I can already tell you that this is going on my list of comfort reads for those exact reasons. Once again, I highly recommend this book and feel like you should pick up a copy if you haven’t. This is a love letter to women, especially women of color, and I will gladly read several more books like that.
See you across the pond!