Book Review & Aesthetic: Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

Good morning book fam! Happy Saturday!! We did it! We made it through another week! I, for one, am really happy to have made it through this week. It was such a long week for me, even though it was only a four-day work week. Crazy! Anyway, I’m really excited to share this review with you today because it has been quite a while since Sarah and I read a book together (okay, that’s not really true, but it’s been a while since we posted a buddy read together). If you haven’t checked out Sarah’s blog Girl On Books yet, you absolutely have to. She is my blog bestie, my sister blog, my book bestie, whatever you want to call her, we’re close. Please enjoy our buddy read of Tokyo Ever After!!

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Title: Tokyo Ever After
Author: Emiko Jean
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication date: May 18, 2021
Genre: Contemporary YA Romance

The most validating princess story I have ever read

At a glance: Izumi loves her role of a normal girl, just out of the spotlight, hanging out with her best friends. Until one day one of her best friends does some internet stalking and finds out that Izumi’s father is none other than the Crowned Prince of Japan.

  • 🌏 East Asian Rep
  • πŸƒ Easy Reading
  • 🌳 Family Focused
  • πŸ’ž Young Love

Read this if… you want to feel like you can be a princess too.

Diversity Representation: Entirely Asian cast (mostly Japanese)

Content Warnings: Racism, bullying, chronic illness, body shaming, mysogyny

Make sure to check out Sarah’s review of this book. We love reading together and our blogs go hand in hand! The entire time we could not screaming to each other about how incredible this book was. It was so validating and I know she loved to hear me ramble about how impactful Izumi’s love story with Japan was to me. Here is a sneak peek of Sarah’s review:

This book really is aaaaall of the fluffy, teen romance feels. Izzy is such a fun character and one with whom it is very easy to empathize. Her romance with Akio made me very giggly at times and her blunders were just magnificently cringey. While the romance is obviously a primary plot point of the story, let us not overlook just how fantastically loyal and dependable Izumi’s friends are. Protagonists are so often left dangling without the structure that a good cast of well developed friends provides. To give us that without a bunch of needless drama surrounding their respective relationships says a lot about the sophistication of Emiko Jean. Would 10/10 recommend this book, especially if you’re looking for a quick weekend book/audiobook that will have you squealing while you listen in the car. I could not tear myself away!!

— Sarah, Girl on Books review of Tokyo Ever After

Book Review

Charming, beautiful, validating, clever, personal, relatable, irreplaceable

Tokyo Ever After is a book I have been waiting to read since I was a little girl watching The Princess Diaries. I always had in my mind this little voice saying, “oh, but that would never happen to you, I mean, you’re Asian.” And as much as I loved the Princess Diaries, I never, ever, thought for one second that a similar story could even exist. Until Tokyo Ever After. I can’t even begin to tell you how monumental this book was for me.

Quick Summary: Tokyo Ever After follows Izumi, a normal Asian girl who has found a home in her small group of Asian girlfriends in a town that is almost entirely white. While trying to find out more information about her father, one of Izumi’s friends finds him, but he is not what they expect. It turns out “Mak from Harvard” is the Crown Prince of Japan and Izumi is his only heir, making her a Japanese princess.

It was such an easy read, but I found myself crying nearly every chapter. It was even worse because I read nearly the entire book waiting in line for rides at Universal Studios (the lines are worse than at Disneyland!!), so I was crying in public the entire time. When I tell you how much I cried, I should probably also tell you that this book is not sad. It was just really personal and emotional for me. It hit me so personally that I couldn’t help it. Every small detail hit me so hard, that I can confidently say this is one of my new favorite books.

The absolute best part about this story was that, even though Izumi is Japanese, Emiko Jean wrote this story so that it isn’t completely exclusive to the Japanese experience. Izumi’s friend group are all Asian Americans with ancestors from different places, but they all band together as best friends, which is such a common experience for Asian Americans. As Izumi was learning about Japan, it didn’t feel so much as exclusive to Izumi and Japan, it just felt like a girl, discovering her roots and learning about her heritage. That balance was by far the best part of the book for me, because it made Izumi’s journey relatable to me, even though I don’t share Japanese roots like she does.

A personal note

I could go on and on about how much this book meant to me but I’ll leave you with just one more thing that blew me away. Though there is a love story in this, as we could expect from a YA princess story, but to me, the true love story was between Izumi and Japan. Her reconciliation with her past and her heritage had all of the emotions that we normally assume we will see from a romantic partner. But the love story was much stronger between her and Japan. It was absolutely beautiful. As much as I loved the love story between Akio and Izumi, the brief love affair turning into a lifelong companionship with Japan was one of the most validating things I’ve ever read. It made me feel like maybe one day I will be ready to have a love affair and lifelong companionship with Vietnam. I hope one day that is as true to me as it became to Izumi.

Summing it all up

Tokyo Ever After is one of my new favorite books. It was validating to me in a way I never expected it to be. It’s the book I’ve been waiting for, ever since I watched The Princess Diaries as a kid when I thought only white girls could become princesses. Something I don’t think anymore. Thank you Emiko Jean.

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Book Aesthetic

There were so many things I wanted to throw into this mood board, but I just couldn’t fit all of the pictures in the world. There was a moment where I thought this would have to be two separate mood boards – I really did love it enough to do that! But in the end, I think that I got it together enough to make something at least a little bit worthy of this book. I’m still stunned at how validated I felt reading this book, and how simple it can be to finally decide to claim your own heritage. I went with blue tones to hopefully portray that calm and serene feeling of finally accepting who you are, and white tones as a reminder of how simple and elegant the solution is: claim it for yourself.

About Emiko Jean

When Emiko is not writing, she is reading. Most of her friends are imaginary. Before she became a writer she was an entomologist (fancy name for bug catcher), a candle maker, a florist, and most recently a teacher. She lives in Washington with her husband and children (unruly twins). She loves the rain.

Let’s Chat!

✨ Have you ever wanted to be a princess too?
✨Did you ever feel like you couldn’t be a princess like I did?
✨ Have you read a book where the character has a love affair with her own heritage? Please give me a recommendation!

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Looking for more diverse reads?

Check out the rest of my blog! I’m dedicated to sharing books with you that include diversity, so feel comfortable that any books on Bookish Brews will include some diversity.

If you liked this review or thought you might like this book, check out some of my other reviews for books with non-European royalty:

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I absolutely need to read Tokyo Ever After now that I read this review!

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