Misa Sugiura

REVIEW: This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura

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 McAllister’s 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 has a lot more going on in it than the conflict about the family flower shop. There are discussions of racism, sexism (and how the two can intersect), teen pregnancy, unplanned pregnancy, and family, relationship and friendship drama too. All these elements make CJ, her friends and her family feel more three-dimensional as while they might be concerned with the McAllister’s racist family history and the fate of the business, it’s not the only thing that’s going on in their lives. There are the little things along with the big things, and the things that they didn’t want to confront until they suddenly come to ahead.

CJ is a very interesting and layered character. Sometimes I’d like her, sometimes I didn’t, because she was a messy person. She’s incredibly loyal but she can use that loyalty to cover up how she’s really feeling which can be petty and insecure. She’s not great at communicating and bottles a lot of her fears up until they all come pouring out in tears or cutting comments. CJ is someone who feels like she’s a failure, she doesn’t get great grades, she isn’t athletically or musically talented, and she doesn’t have the drive or goals that her mother has. It often appears that CJ is the kind of person that doesn’t try that hard, because then it doesn’t feel so bad when she fails, and she uses her failures as a protective shield against the rest of the world.

CJ’s relationship with her mum is often fraught as CJ worries that she’ll never do anything to make her mum proud, and that her mum regrets having her. The two of them have some great discussions and the writing is great as it shows how CJ can go with sympathising with her mum in one moment, to being angry with her the next, and back again. It’s true to life as when people have arguments or heated discussions, they feel a lot of different things at different times, especially if the other person says something they weren’t expecting. There’s almost the nature vs nurture idea going on in This Time Will Be Different. CJ was mostly raised by her Aunt Hannah due to her mum wanting to have a career, meaning CJ is similar in a lot of ways to Hannah. She still has some of her mum’s influences in her, but she is also her own person and it is as she becomes more comfortable with the idea of who she is and what she’s interested in, that who she is becomes more clear to her.

The frank discussions of what happened when hundreds of thousands Japanese Americans were sent to Internment Camps and how it still affects people generations later makes This Time Will Be Different a poignant read. When CJ starts to fight for her family’s heritage there’s a lot of talk of racist trolling, the white saviour, and how some people don’t see the big deal and are almost happy to let injustice slide if it doesn’t affect them. The Internment of Japanese Americans is something that happened not that long ago with people still alive who went through it, and their children and grandchildren perhaps still dealing with the emotional and financial consequences. With what’s going on in the world at the moment, it seems like now, more than ever, it is a part of history that shouldn’t be forgotten.

This Time Will Be Different is a fast-paced book though it does end quite abruptly. Not everything is tied up neatly and leaves some questions which is fine, but there doesn’t seem to be any closure for CJ and how she feels about her successes and failures now. Also while the romance was sweet, there was a lot of mixed messages as CJ doesn’t believe in true love, meaning the romance is a very slow slow-burn romance.

This Time Will Be Different is a compelling read with a fantastically flawed and interesting main character. It’s funny, sad and shines a light on a piece of history that shouldn’t be forgotten about. 4/5.

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Illumicrate – For Book Lovers June Box

I don’t subscribe to any book boxes, instead I keep an eye on the various book subscription box companies I’ve used and liked before and if there’s a theme I like the sound of I get it. That’s what happened with June’s Illumicrate box. Illumicrate is a monthly, UK based YA subscription box and there are lots of different subscription types you can sign up for – including a book only option which I may take advantage of in the future. Each month you get a new release book along with roughly 5 bookish times based around a theme. This month’s theme was For Book Lovers, and instead of the goodies being all fandom themed, they are all very general and are things that bookish people would probably use.

The first thing I saw when I opened the box (which was really well stuffed) was a smaller cardboard box and in that was a glass TBR jar from KDP Letters. I really like the green colour of the lid and the text on the glass that says “Read Me” – it’s a really pretty colour. I like the idea of a TBR jar but have never actually done one. I keep track of my TBR with s spreadsheet (I’m a big fan of spreadsheets) but I think maybe also having a TBR jar might give me a push when I’m very undecided about what I want to read next.

The next thing I saw was a huge and beautiful wall hanging from Carol Garcia PR. It’s seriously huge (it could work as a very thin blanket it’s that big) and has great colours and it features a goddess reading in the clouds over a sea of books. There was also a set of sticky page flags from Hey Atlas Creative and a bookend from Fable and Black that features a stack of books and a cat on the back of a chair. There was a collectible coin featuring Hermione Granger which was cool and a book sleeve from Sparrow_And_Wolf. I hadn’t seen a book sleeve like this one before. The ones I have are made out of fabric and have a hole in the top to slip the book in. This one is more plasticy and has a zip on the top so a book inside it would be super protected from any spilt liquids.

There were two books in this month’s box. The first I saw was Birthday by Meredith Russo and this copy has rainbow sprayed edges. This is a book that when I read the blurb, it rang a bell for me so I think it’s one I had heard about before and it had piqued my interest then. It’s about Eric and Morgan who were born on the same day but are slowly growing apart as they try and figure out who they want to be. The story is told on one day every year for six years which sounds like an interesting choice.

The second book was This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura, it has yellow sprayed edges and I think the cover and spine is beautiful. I’d not heard of this book before but reading the blurb it sounds like something that’s right up my street. CJ enjoys helping out at her aunt Hannah’s flower shop but when her mother she plans to sell the shop to the McAllisters, the same people who swindled CJ’s family out of their property when Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during World War II, a rift threatens to split CJ’s family and her entire North California community. For the first time CJ finds the strength to step up and fight for what she believes in.

Also included in the box was a sampler for The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie, a bookmark and signed bookplate for Birthday, and a signed bookplate and letter from the author for This Time Will Be Different too.

I really like the idea of having the items in a book box be more general than fandom-themed every now and then. I don’t read as much YA as I used to so a lot of fandoms past me by and while the item might be cool, I don’t get as much enjoyment from it compared to someone who is in that fandom. I am very much looking forward to reading both books as well as they are either ones I’d never heard of or are books I wouldn’t have gone out to get myself. I think this was a pretty good box from Illumicrate though I do think it is a bit of an expensive box to have monthly. That being said, I’ll keep an eye out to see what themes they have in the future.