I was really hoping to enjoy this one, but it hit a few of my personal pet peeves and didn’t work completely for me. However, that isn’t to say this book isn’t good. It’s still a great novel, but definitely relatable more to younger folks who are active in their school community or looking for that one thing to stand up for.
This Time Will Be Different follows CJ Katsuyama, your average teenage girl who doesn’t know what she wants to do with the rest of her life. She lives with her mother and her aunt; her mom is this #bossbitch who’s motivation for life is something she wants to pass onto her daughter. Her aunt runs a small flower shop that’s been in their family for many years. However, the shop is failing and there isn’t enough money for CJ’s family to continue taking care of it. Their only buyer is the same family who purchased the flower shop from the Katsuyamas back during WWII. That was before CJ’s family entered the internment camps for the duration of the war. Suddenly, CJ understands exactly what she wants and she’s ready to fight for it.
I was really hoping this would be an amazing novel, but honestly it fell flat for me. The writing was great and I don’t have any doubts Misa Sugiura is a great writer. However, this book felt all over the place.
It starts off with the family’s flower shop needing to be sold off exactly as the premise says, but then the story goes into how the high school CJ attends is also named after that same family. They mention how the grandfather used to deal in slavery back in the day and how no one wants a building named after a racist person. I liked that this was the setup, but then the whole debacle with the flower shop is resolved way too quickly and the focus of the book becomes this group of kids trying to change the name of their high school.
But then the story continues to go into ally-ism. I think this was probably the most interesting part of the whole book. Being an ally is a tricky step between being helpful and being self-serving. I thought the examples of this were great, but also just confused about where this was going.
Then it flips and becomes a typical YA story about a young girl who doesn’t know what to do and confused about boys. I just got a little annoyed by this point on how messy this book seemed to be.
I’m sad to say I was annoyed with CJ. Perhaps this is me being too old and the book being too close to a contemporary YA story that I felt CJ to be angry for all the wrong reasons. It’s almost like a lack of maturity, which in hindsight makes sense.
I honestly was hoping that there would be more references to the Japanese internment camps and how that affected CJ. I’m not saying that it isn’t “Japanese enough,” whatever that means, but the premise of the book promises more than what the book is about. Sugiura sets up a short timeline of events when it comes to the internment of CJ’s family without any additional info about it. I’m blaming the marketing teams for promising a story that wasn’t obviously there.
If you’re more of a fan of contemporary YA stories, then this will be the one for you. It covers a lot including social justice issues and how you can make changes to the way the world around you. It may not impact the entire world, but if you can bring a sense of justice to your town then it’s better than nothing. I liked the story well enough, but I feel like there was a lack of focus and instead of narrowing in on one theme, the author decided to cover all the themes.
- 3/5 Stars
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I received a copy of this book from Epic Reads for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author.