A Kirkus Reviews Best Book * A 2020 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Selection
For fans of Jenny Han, Morgan Matson, and Sandhya Menon, critically acclaimed author Misa Sugiura delivers a richly crafted contemporary YA novel about family, community, and the importance of writing your own history.
The author of the Asian Pacific American Award-winning It’s Not Like It’s a Secret is back with another smartly drawn coming-of-age novel that weaves riveting family drama, surprising humor, and delightful romance into a story that will draw you in from the very first page.
Katsuyamas never quit—but seventeen-year-old CJ doesn’t even know where to start. She’s never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop.
She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of.
Then her mom decides to sell the shop—to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for.
In Silicon Valley, Japanese-American CJ Katsuyama, 17, has yet to show an interest in or an aptitude for anything, except perhaps working at the family's failing flower shop, Heart's Desire, with her aunt Hannah, much to her overachieving venture capitalist mother Mimi's chagrin. Mimi gives Hannah an ultimatum about the business fix it or sell it to McAllister Venture Capital, a family that partially built its wealth by acquiring the property of Japanese-Americans forced into internment camps during WWII. The family flower shop was one of those businesses, sold cheaply and bought back by CJ's grandfather at the market rate decades later. In this tension, CJ finally finds her cause: save the family business, and make the McAllisters pay for their past transgressions. Sugiura (It's Not Like It's a Secret) deftly weaves historical fact into this coming-of-age narrative, which also explores a budding romance and CJ's curiosity about her father's identity, a secret her mother has never revealed. Through CJ, she also addresses how the myth of the model minority has impacted Asian-Americans but is careful to not judge success within the Asian-American community. Sugiura provides an entertaining and informative backdrop that allows CJ to explore her own sense of identity while giving readers a front seat to her process. Ages 13 up.