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My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life: 01/04/21
My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life by Rachel Cohn reads like a YA mashup of Lost in Translation and Annie, if she had been reunited with a long lost father, rather than adopted by a wealthy man. Elle Zoellner on her sixteenth birthday is taken out of foster care and flown to Tokyo to live with Kenji Takahari.
Elle isn't ready for the huge cultural shift of living in a different country, in a luxury tower (that her family owns), going to an elite private school. Sure, she has a thick binder of what to do and what not to do, but she's still overwhelmed, and understandably pissy through the early days of her stay.
One of the awkward plot points is Elle's mixed heritage. Not only does she have an American mother and a Japanese mother, but her mother is Black. Rachel Cohn is neither Japanese nor Black and some of Elle's observations, experiences, and interactions come off as awkward.
Frankly the big themes: a girl living in foster care being plopped into the middle of a wealthy family she didn't know she had could have just as easily been set in the United States. The cultural differences of one region/class vs. another region/class could easily have been done without leaving the country.