“I love to travel, but when I really want to escape, I read a book.” – Jean Craighead George
Totally agree! With this review, I went on a lovely trip to Tokyo that I just have to tell you about.
Made in Japan by S.J. Parks tells the story of Hana, a young girl who traces her mother’s footsteps from London to Tokyo. Hana never knew her father and, following her mother’s death, decides to travel to Tokyo to discover herself and possibly find her father. The Teahouse, the only link she has to her mother’s life in the Japanese city, is all that’s on Hana’s mind as she begins her journey.
If you know me at all by now you will probably have guessed what my favourite thing about this book is. Yup, it is the fact that it is set in a destination I know relatively little about. I absolutely love being transported to a different time and place via a book. I think it is so much fun to learn facts about a destination or its history while intertwined in a fictional story. It makes it much more entertaining and I find that the information sticks in my mind more than if I read it straight from a history book.
Parks has beautifully descriptive writing, which added to the pleasure of reading the book, especially as she described the city and its traditions. At times the prose is almost poetic and this really brought to life my romantic view of Tokyo and Japanese culture. It also helped me to truly understand the characters and their feelings. Admittedly, it did not help me warm to any of them. Hana is perhaps the most likeable character, with roommate Jess placed at the other end of the scale. All the other characters just sat at a mundane point in the middle for me.
As I turned the page of each chapter, it became more and more obvious that secrets were lurking. At first, anticipation was built up but about 25% through the book I wondered was anything juicy going to happen. It was not until chapter 17 when the first flashback to Hana’s mother Naomi took place that I really felt I could understand the purpose of the book. From that point on I was really intrigued, however, Made in Japan fell short at the final hurdle for me, the end. In my opinion, it ended rather abruptly and nothing was really concluded for the reader.
Would I recommend this book overall? Certainly, yes! It had a magic about it that just transported me to Tokyo for 3 wonderful days. Thank you, S.J. Parks!
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.