A GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK
In this brilliant new novel from Emiko Jean, the author of the New York Times bestselling young adult novel Tokyo Ever After, comes a whip-smart, laugh-out-loud funny, and utterly heartwarming novel about motherhood, daughterhood, and love—how we find it, keep it, and how it always returns.
One phone call changes everything.
At thirty-five, Mika Suzuki’s life is a mess. Her last relationship ended in flames. Her roommate-slash-best friend might be a hoarder. She’s a perpetual disappointment to her traditional Japanese parents. And, most recently, she’s been fired from her latest dead-end job.
Mika is at her lowest point when she receives a phone call from Penny—the daughter she placed for adoption sixteen years ago. Penny is determined to forge a relationship with her birth mother, and in turn, Mika longs to be someone Penny is proud of. Faced with her own inadequacies, Mika embellishes a fact about her life. What starts as a tiny white lie slowly snowballs into a fully-fledged fake life, one where Mika is mature, put-together, successful in love and her career.
The details of Mika’s life might be an illusion, but everything she shares with curious, headstrong Penny is real: her hopes, dreams, flaws, and Japanese heritage. The harder-won heart belongs to Thomas Calvin, Penny’s adoptive widower father. What starts as a rocky, contentious relationship slowly blossoms into a friendship and, over time, something more. But can Mika really have it all—love, her daughter, the life she’s always wanted? Or will Mika’s deceptions ultimately catch up to her? In the end, Mika must face the truth—about herself, her family, and her past—and answer the question, just who is Mika in real life?
Perfect for fans of Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age, Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and Rebecca Serle’s In Five Years, Mika in Real Life is at once a heart-wrenching and uplifting novel that explores the weight of silence, the secrets we keep, and what it means to be a mother.
In Jean's breezy adult debut (after the Tokyo Ever After YA fantasy series), a woman encounters the daughter she gave up for adoption. Mika Suzuki is recovering from a failed relationship and has just been laid off from her latest dead-end job in Portland, Ore., when she receives a call from Penny Calvin, whom she gave birth to 16 years earlier. Penny, who was raised in Ohio by white adoptive parents, and whose mother has died, wants to meet Mika. Mika, too, wants to meet but chooses to invent a more enviable version of herself, which means staging an elaborate and rickety deception involving a hunky boyfriend and ownership of an art gallery. When the ruse inevitably fails, in part because of the interference of Mika's difficult Japanese mother, Mika is left to try to forge new, more realistic bonds with Penny—and with Penny's attractive adoptive attorney father Thomas. Jean ties up the loose ends a bit neatly after a prolonged and increasingly steamy flirtation between Mika and Thomas, but there's plenty to chew on about interracial adoption and the varieties of mother-daughter experience and conflict. Aside from the familiar rom-com subplot, this gets the job done nicely. Agent: Erin Harris, Folio Literary Management.