I Love You So Mochi follows Kimi's trip to Kyoto, ostensibly to meet her maternal grandparents and get some distance from her mother, with whom she is currently fighting. The love interest is Akira, a young man helping his uncle sell mochi balls, but who dreams of studying to become a doctor. Kimi doesn't know what she wants to do with her life, but she does know that she doesn't want to be a painter, even though she's been accepted to an art school. That decision, with surprised both her and her mother, is why things have grown so tense between them. But what else could she do when it was clear that art did not bring her joy?
As far as her actual desires are concerned, the only thing that Kimi really likes doing is designing outfits for herself and her friends. Why this doesn't occur to her as a career choice until half-way through the book is a mystery, but it at least provides a pretext over which Kimi and Akira can bond.
The story is full of lots of cultural detail and given some emotional punch by the strained dynamics between Kimi, her mother, and her grandparents, but one can't escape a sense that this is playing safely by a formula. Family conflict, romance, and the requisite cultural detail are all inserted at the right spots and worked through appropriately. Grandparents are charming, boy is amazingly supportive, and BFFs at home are peripheral. It's a charming read, but there are no surprises and, aside from the local flavor, not much value imparted.