Realistic Girlhood That Leaves You Feeling Optimistic | Review: This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura

7:14 PM

I will warn you that this novel does have some trigger warnings attached to it and tackles quite a few topics including racism, homophobia, teenage pregnancy and more. There are brief mentions of a miscarriage and of an abortion as well. Proceed with caution if these might be something that triggers you and, as always, take care of yourself.


Katsuyamas never quit—but seventeen-year-old CJ doesn’t even know where to start. She’s never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop.

She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of.

Then her mom decides to sell the shop—to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for.

This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura 
Rating: ★★★★☆

" People talk about starting over after they've made a big mistake or a bad choice in life. But you can never really start over. You can't fully reset. And I don't think you should. There's no point in dwelling on the past, but you can acknowledge it and try to make things better. Or try a new way, and know that this time will be different. "

Misa Sugiuara has been on my radar for a very long while. I'd always assumed that my first book of hers would be, It's Not Like It's a Secret, but this one stumbled into my life first. Which is like fate itself is saying, "Nope. You're starting here, old lady." And really, who can say no to fate? It's like saying no to Veruca Salt. It's complicated, okay?

Regardless of the hows and the whys, I'm glad This Time Will Be Different was my first by her. While I struggled in the beginning of this one with its pacing (I didn't hate it but it did take me a quarter of the book to get into the groove of this particular story) once I really got into it, I was unable to put it down. Even in the obscenely hot Chicago summer, where my brain felt like it was literally melting, I was like: must continue reading.

The characters inThis Time Will Be Different feel like actual teenagers. This is the novel's big strength. There was this consistent messiness to them that was flawed and honest, and I really appreciated that. Sugiura has a clear picture at what makes these characters tick, connect and clash and it really showed. She writes them in a way that is lively and imperfectly so. In all honesty she had me saying, more than once, " I wish I had books like this as a teenager. "

She doesn't dumb things down for her audience when it comes down to it. There's this frankness to her prose that lets us know that these characters are still figuring things out, they're going to make mistakes, and I'm here for it. I loved the familial connections--which, true, were complex--and I adored the way This Time Will Be Different tackled an array of topics.

The characters in This Time Will Be Different are all gorgeously flawed and full of life. I love CJ, and the way she was developed, to the point where it felt like we were reading about someone we have known our whole lives. Seeing her development from the first page, diving into the past and her family's past, was a real treat. She's definitely making it onto my top fictional characters of 2019.

I went into This Time Will Be Different thinking its premise was pretty much upfront and had a generic idea of what would be covered, but I came out of the experience with so much more.

If you're looking for a novel that represents teens in a realistic light and tackles racism, homophobia, sexuality and more, then this should absolutely be at the top of your TBR. Sugiura writes a beautiful and flawed life in This Time Will Be Different, and that should be praised.

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