Friday, March 24, 2023

This is How I Roll, by Debbi Michiko Florence

Sana loves cooking and dreams of becoming a famous sushi chef like her father.  She'd love to spend the summer getting pointers from Dad and cooking with him, but he refuses to teach her and just finds excuses to go in to work instead.  Sana suspects that he doesn't believe that women should make sushi.

One day she meets Koji, a boy who is helping landscape her Dad's restaurant.  He seems nice but her best friend warns her that he has a reputation.  Rather than dissuading her, the news simply makes her curious (and then cautious about telling her friend anything more about him).  She and Koji become friends and he takes her to meet his Mom who turns out to be an amazing cook.  She offers to teach Sana what she knows about Japanese cuisine.  Soon, Sana is sneaking over to Koji's house in order to take lessons from Koji's Mom (and to see Koji as well!) and he even helps her put together YouTube tutorials about kawaii sushi. All of this Sana has to keep secret from her parents, even though she knows that all this sneaking around will lead to nothing but trouble!

A predictable and formulaic middle reader with a determined heroine and an unusual hobby.  While Sana makes a number of ostensibly dangerous choices, the entire environment of this book feels very safe secure.  Yes, Sana is hanging out with strangers without her parents' knowledge, but this is terribly tame stuff by children's book standards.  Predictably, she gets caught and (similarly predictably) she gets off pretty lightly.  Even the romance is safe and chaste (some hand holding and one furtive kiss).  The ending is saccharine and very tidy.  Nothing remarkable, but pleasant enough to read and appropriate for tweens.

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