Title: My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life
Author: Rachel Cohn
Review by: Dani Hoots
“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 16th birthday discovers that her long-lost father, Kenji Takahara, is actually a Japanese hotel mogul and wants her to come live with him. Um, yes, please! Elle jets off first class from Washington, DC, to Tokyo, which seems like a dream come true. Until she meets her enigmatic father, her way-too-fab aunt, and her hypercritical 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 ubercool 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.
This story had a lot of potential, but I felt it was lacking. I liked the idea of Elle not finding out who her dad was due to the strict culture beliefs in her dad’s side of the family. It reminded me a lot Ouran High School Host Club as Tamaki couldn’t be with his dad until the grandmother knew he was the only way to be the successor.
I liked Elle’s background, coming from a semi-okay background to her mother getting into drugs and her life came crashing down. That gave depth to the character…
But when Elle moved to Japan, she was quite a snob and disrespectful to her father’s way of life. Yeah, I’d be pissed if my grandmother didn’t like me because I wasn’t full Japanese, and that was understandable, but there were many other things where she was just rude, selfish, and snobby.
The other problem I had with the plot was that nothing really happened and then all the real conflict was at the 75% mark and it was all resolved within the last few pages. And some stuff wasn’t even resolved or talked about again.
I felt this story had a lot of potential, but it fell short.