My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life
My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life
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Annotation: On her sixteenth birthday, Elle Zoellner leaves the foster care system to live with the father she never knew in Tokyo, Japan.
Catalog Number: #170971
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 346 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-368-00839-9
ISBN 13: 978-1-368-00839-6
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017056536
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
After her drug-addicted mother goes to jail, sixteen-year-old Elle Zoellner's long-absent, hotel-mogul Japanese father brings her to Tokyo, where she attends an elite international school. Elle struggles with cultural differences, getting to know her aloof father, and falling for decidedly uncool fellow student Ryuu. The chock-full-of-privilege-and-power plot is trendy (think Crazy Rich Asians) and entertaining in a soap-opera sense.
Kirkus Reviews
An American teen is swept away to Tokyo, Japan, beginning a posh new life with a father she's never met.Ever since her prescription-drug addicted mother went to jail, Elle Zoellner, who is European-American, African-American, and Native American on her mother's side and Japanese on her father's, has been in foster care. On her 16th birthday her long-lost father sends for her. Suddenly, Elle is living in a luxury Tokyo hotel owned by her family and attending an elite international school. It all seems like a dream come true until she meets her impassive father and indifferent grandmother and aunt. In an attempt to win them over, she makes her way into the superrich and popular clique at school, the Ex-Brats. But when Elle finds herself falling for the boy iced out by the group and hated by her family, her life becomes even more confusing. Cohn (Sam & Ilsa's Last Hurrah, 2018, etc.) creates a fun, well-paced novel about family, friendship, and romance, but aside from Elle, many characters are underdeveloped and the plot feels like a soap opera. Cohn tries to tackle many important issues, including substance abuse, but doesn't devote much attention to them. The ending feels rushed and abrupt, but the descriptions of Japanese etiquette and customs, sights, attractions, and food succeed.Overall, a fun and enjoyable look into the drama of lives of privilege and power. (Fiction. 13-18)
Publishers Weekly
Elle Zoellner-s life changes drastically on her 16th birthday, when Uncle Masa, a family friend, arrives in Washington, D.C., to take her to Tokyo to live with her estranged biological father, Kenji Takahara, a Japanese hotel mogul. Elle welcomes the opportunity: she has bounced from one foster home to another since her addict mother went to jail three months before. But she has difficulty adjusting to Japanese customs, her aloof and formal father, the wealth that suddenly surrounds her, and the daily reminder that she is both hafu (-half Japanese, half something else-) and gaijin (a foreigner). When Elle begins attending an elite international school, she falls in with the -Ex-Brats,- the school-s coolest clique, and starts falling for a boy whom they-ve -frozen out.- At home, she barely sees her father, and things are tense with her paternal grandmother and aunt. Who is her family, really? Cohn (Kill All Happies) creates a relatable fish-out-of-water story with a lively heroine and a message about substance abuse, but the finale is rushed, and attempts to highlight cultural differences are often distilled to simplistic idiomatic misunderstandings (Masa, an educated and well-traveled character, calls Coke -dark sugar water-), keeping Elle-s family and experience from coming fully to life. Ages 14-up. Agent: Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, WME Entertainment. (Dec.)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Life could hardly be bleaker for Elle on her sixteenth birthday. Living in foster care since her mother's imprisonment for drug charges, she's lost everything she cared about. All of this changes when an old family friend swoops in to take Elle away Japan! While Elle has always known that her father is Japanese, she's never met the man. Now he wants to be united with her, offering her an überprivileged life in Tokyo. Faster than you can say "Hello Kitty," Elle is attending a prestigious international school and living in a forty-ninth-floor penthouse apartment of her own. She's taken in by one of the most popular girls in the school, who introduces her to the magic of the city. Perfect, right? Except that Elle's long-absent family is remote and way more interested in their business than in emotional connections. And, wait, new Dad might be a criminal? Elle's narration sparkles with wit and insight. She is open to all the wonders of her new life, yet still very much the wary girl who lost her mother to drug addiction. Cohn's descriptions of Tokyo are fresh and vivid, focusing on details interesting to teen readers, such as cat cafés, Japanese slang, and the elaborate presentation of food. It's one of those rare books that combines an authentic teen voice with a confident plunge into a fascinating culture.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review ALA Booklist (10/1/18)
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Horn Book (4/1/19)
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
Reading Level: 7.0
Interest Level: 9-12

"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 sixteenth 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 hyper-critical 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 troop of uber-cool 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.

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