One of PEOPLE Magazine's Best Books of Summer!
"I absolutely adored this funny, fierce, big-hearted book.”
—Morgan Matson, New York Times bestselling author of Save the Date
Celebrated author Sarah Kuhn reinvents the modern fairy tale in this intensely personal yet hilarious novel of a girl whose search for a storybook ending takes her to unexpected places in both her beloved LA neighborhood and her own guarded heart.
If Rika's life seems like the beginning of a familiar fairy tale—being an orphan with two bossy cousins and working away in her aunts' business—she would be the first to reject that foolish notion. After all, she loves her family (even if her cousins were named after Disney characters), and with her biracial background, amazing judo skills and red-hot temper, she doesn't quite fit the princess mold.
All that changes the instant she locks eyes with Grace Kimura, America's reigning rom-com sweetheart, during the Nikkei Week Festival. From there, Rika embarks on a madcap adventure of hope and happiness—searching for clues that Grace is her long-lost mother, exploring Little Tokyo's hidden treasures with cute actor Hank Chen, and maybe . . . finally finding a sense of belonging.
But fairy tales are fiction and the real world isn't so kind. Rika knows she's setting herself up for disappointment, because happy endings don't happen to girls like her. Should she walk away before she gets in even deeper, or let herself be swept away?
"Evocatively written and beautiful in its rage, From Little Tokyo, With Love is one to treasure. To mixed race readers especially, this one's for you. Few heroines have spoken to me like Rika Rakuyama."
—Helen Hoang, USA Today bestselling author of The Kiss Quotient
"A heartfelt modern-day fairy tale that delivers a sweet romance alongside a thoughtful exploration of identity. From Little Tokyo, With Love takes you on an adventure through Los Angeles–full of family secrets and hidden histories—and its indelible characters will stick with you long after you’ve reached the happily ever after."
—Maurene Goo, author of Somewhere Only We Know
"This book completely swept me away. Brimming with rich culture and a city that demands to be seen in all its colors and complexities, Sarah Kuhn’s latest novel is a beautiful love letter to biracial kids that’s full of longing, hope, and so much heart.”
—Akemi Dawn Bowman, author of William C. Morris Award Finalist Starfish and The Infinity Courts series
"I so wish this book had been around for the angry, reluctantly romantic hafu teen I was, but luckily it's here for the angry, reluctantly romantic hafu woman I became. A charming and swoony story for anyone who feels like they don't belong."
—Maggie Tokuda-Hall, author of The Mermaid, The Witch, and The Sea
"Readers will cheer for tough-but-tender Rika as she navigates the city of Los Angeles—and her own complicated emotions—in search of love, family, and belonging in this heartwarming pick-me-up of a novel."
—Misa Sugiura, award-winning author of It's Not Like It's a Secret
"Written like a modern fairy tale, this is a thoughtful exploration of finding one’s full identity and sense of place and community...A beautiful and entertaining blend of family, romance, and self-discovery."
"Kuhn has created a protagonist who doesn’t fit the mold of a typical 'princess.' Instead, she is spirited, fearless, real, and fights tirelessly for what her heart desires. The enthralling dialogue will keep readers engaged as they put together the pieces of the puzzle."
—School Library Journal
About the Author
Sarah Kuhn is the author of the popular Heroine Complex novels—a series starring Asian American superheroines. The first book is a Locus bestseller, an RT Reviewers' Choice Award nominee, and one of the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog's Best Books of 2016. Her YA debut, the Japan-set romantic comedy I Love You So Mochi, is a Junior Library Guild selection and a nominee for YALSA's Best Fiction for Young Adults. She has also penned a variety of short fiction and comics, including the critically acclaimed graphic novel Shadow of the Batgirl for DC Comics and the Star Wars audiobook original Doctor Aphra. Additionally, she was a finalist for both the CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment) New Writers Award and the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Her newest novel, From Little Tokyo, With Love—a modern fairy tale with a half-Japanese heroine—is a Junior Library Guild selection and was recently chosen as Penguin Random House’s One World, One Book title of the year. A third generation Japanese American, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and an overflowing closet of vintage treasures.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Once upon a time, a beautiful princess lived in the magical kingdom of Los Angeles. Always alone, she belonged to no one—and no one belonged to her. She dreamed of one day finding someone who shared her passions, a handsome prince obsessed with monstrous mythical creatures and exploring all the weirdest corners of her kingdom.
Or alternately, she dreamed of kicking ass and winning the regional judo championship, which came with a really awesome trophy.
Neither of these things happened, so she revealed herself to be a nure-onna (an actual monstrous mythical creature), transformed into a snake, and ate everyone’s faces off.
Never argue with the Nikkei Week Queen of Little Tokyo.
Auntie Suzy gifted me with this advice when I was six, and I probably should’ve taken it to heart. But “never” sounds like a long time when you’re six, and I must have known deep down that there would be so many things I’d want to argue about.
“Ugh, Rika-chan, why won’t you just stop fighting with me!” My sister Belle—the current Nikkei Week Queen of Little Tokyo—gives me an impressively regal glower. “You have the worst temper in the whole entire world.”
“False,” I say, even though it’s kind of true. “I’m actually suppressing my kaiju-temper extra hard because I’m trying not to fight with you. Even though you’re the one who’s blocking my bedroom door and waving random bits of fabric in my face.”
“It’s a scarf!” she retorts, flapping the floaty bit of cloth she’s been trying to tie around my neck for the last five minutes. “And you need it.”
“I do not need a scarf,” I retort, batting her hands away. “We live in LA—no one ever needs a scarf.”
“It’s decorative,” she insists, her face screwing into that look that means I’m being a total pain the ass.
I would argue—see, again with the arguing—that she’s the one being the pain in the ass, since she’s keeping me from what I actually need to do. I have to get over to the dojo, where my fellow judoka are preparing for our big martial arts demonstration today. We always put on a show at the parade that kicks off Nikkei Week, the annual festival in Los Angeles’s downtown neighborhood of Little Tokyo celebrating all things Japanese and Japanese American.
I’m really trying not to deploy my temper—Auntie Och calls it “Rika-chan’s kaiju,” or giant monster, after all the Japanese creature movies she watches on “the YouTube,” holding her phone screen way too close to her face. I’d swear her tone sounds almost . . . admiring? But the truth is, my temper always gets me in trouble. It’s somehow even more monstrous than Godzilla or Mothra or any of the titans rampaging across Auntie Och’s screen, destroying entire miniature cities. It’s one of the snarling beasts in the Japanese folklore stories I’ve been obsessed with since I was a kid, clawing through my blood and rattling against my rib cage, dying to escape and gobble up those who insist on provoking it.
Like the guy who thought it would be funny to “pretend choke” me after I tapped out during a sparring session in judo. I was only eight, so I bit him—and almost got kicked out of the dojo over it. Or the anime-obsessed white girls who frequent my Aunties’ katsu restaurant and order me to speak to them in “an authentic Japanese accent.” I once dumped a full can of Coke on Queen Becky, the Ultimate White Girl Who Just, Like, Loves Asian Culture, and it felt so good—until that particular Becky’s mother started an online petition to shut down the restaurant, and Auntie Suzy wearily explained to me the need for our family to appear “respectable.” (That one . . . did not happen when I was eight, by the way. That was last week.)
I don’t want to be in trouble all the time, so I try to keep my kaiju-temper leashed.
But my kaiju-temper doesn’t care about what I want.