"My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life" by Rachel Cohn: A Young American Moving To Japan ... What Could Go Wrong?

Elle has lived in American foster care for almost a year and things don't seem to get better: the only possession she liked had been stolen, she had been with four families, her mother is in prison, and she is only allowed to shower once a weak.

But then Uncle Masa comes for a visit and reveals that her father is willing to take her in. Not only that, but Elle's father is an influential hotel chain owner in Japan. This way, Elle goes from living in foster care to going to a private school and living in a sky scraper within one night. Despite this, things are not perfect, Elle's father has little time to spare for his daughter, her Aunt is a seemingly traditional business woman, and her grandmother doesn't seem to be pleased by anything. Furthermore, Tokyo is a whole different world for a simple girl from Maryland ... 

My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life by Rachel Cohn
When I mentioned "My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life" in my article about 2019 releases I look forward to, I wrote that the plot had not been the mayor selling point but rather seeing and learning about Japanese every day life and culture. 

In this regard the book delivered on point. The information about Japanese culture and customs are very well spread. Particularly hilarious was when Elle had learned that you don't wear shoes inside someones apartment. Since she is American that seemed to be the most absurd thing she had ever heard and wouldn't her feet get cold ... 

In addition this, the book also touched on the topic of inhered sexism, racism, and homophobia in Japan. Elle's Aunt is much more competent and more qualified to lead the business but due to tradition, she is not "allowed" to hold the position of CO. Just at the point when I wondered if "My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life" does bother on stereotyping the Japanese characters, Cohn chooses to add a twist to them, so that they become more.

I still believe that some of mentioned aspects are a bit stereotypical but with that in mind, it does give you a broad overview about Japanese customs and social rules. And how hard it can be to fully immigrate into a society that is quite different from the one you were brought up in. 

What "My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life" offers in culture and insights, it sadly lacks in character development and plot. More than three forth of the book are spent with immigrating Elle, and getting her used to the lifestyle. There are a few moments which lead you to believe there is a bigger plot hidden behind this. However, it only becomes relevant in the last thirty pages, when it turns into something that could be compared to Romeo and Juliet. 

Furthermore, hardly any character has developed through the story. Elle changes slowly over the course of the whole story - as she becomes more adapt to the culture. Any of the other characters have a sudden change of mind in the last 10 pages and all is well. I realise that a book needs a proper story line with rising action, climax, falling action, and the resolution and that without this part, "My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life" would have ended on a dry note. 

Thus, it depends on what you expect: If you fancy a Mean Girls chic read just with Japanese culture thrown in the mix, then I'd stay clear of it.

However, if you want a book which has a loose side plot and is otherwise well written to take you along the life in Japan then "My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life" is not going to let you down.

My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life by Rachel Cohn

My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life by Rachel Cohn
Published2018
Pages: 352
ISBN:1368008399
Goodreads:Add to shelf


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19 comments :

  1. This is a great cover! I love the idea of learning about Japanese culture too - from what I know so far, it's seriously interesting. I'd love to visit Japan one day!

    Jenny in Neverland
    http://www.jennyinneverland.com

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  2. great review! the book cover is also very pretty.

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  3. I live the cover and the story seems interesting. Thanks for the review

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  4. This is a new author for me. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. This book sounds really interesting! I'll have to add it to my to-read list!

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  6. With the last name of Sakata - I believe this is required reading ;)

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  7. I think I might try to read this!

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  8. Sounds like a great book. I'm not sure I've read one set in Japan before.

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    1. The Japanese setting was one of the things that drew me to it. :)

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  9. I have very mixed thoughts on Rachel Cohn books, but I might give this one a shot!

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    1. I only read Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List years ago which was about three stars, so I thought it's worth a try :)

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  10. Thanks for the honest review. The synopsis sounds intriguing but I'm not sure about the lack of character development.
    Gemma @ Gemma's Book Nook

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    1. You're welcome :) The lack of character development was a bit saddening to be honest :c

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