My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life
by Cohn, Rachel

On her sixteenth birthday, Elle Zoellner leaves the foster care system to live with the father she never knew in Tokyo, Japan.

Rachel Cohn is the New York Times bestselling author of several young adult novels, including Kill All Happies, Gingerbread, Shrimp, Cupcake, and, with David Levithan, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, Dash & Lily's Book of Dares, and Sam & Ilsa's Last Hurrah. Visit Rachel online at or on Twitter @rachelcohn.

*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-to 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. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2018 Booklist 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) Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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