Review: This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura

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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.

I don’t know how, but I seem to be getting so lucky with books with great, female protagonists recently! I’m so glad I picked this up at YALC because it was exactly what I needed, and lived up to the beautiful cover 100%.

I seem to only read/enjoy contemporaries with a twist now, and this one definitely had enough twists for me. CJ was such a great main character, who was strong and empowering and surrounded by brilliant, beautiful women. This book made me want to stand up and scream about how strong and resilient and focused women can be!

‘“Look at these wildflowers.” Hannah sweeps her arm around. “They’re not fancy, they’re not prizewinning orchids or roses.”‘

There was just so much good in this book. Alongside the strong women, we have strong people of colour. And strong LGBTQIA+ people. This book was diverse in every way and focused heavily on LGBT and racial issues. I loved the subplots that included tension between POC and brought up Japanese-American internment camp issues and how these mistreatings still have an effect on people today.

Hannah’s dysfunctional family were so lovable and enjoyable to read about. I love how we saw the flaws of CJs family and friends, but ended up seeing their soft sides too (e.g. CJ’s mum and Brynn). Some of the topics discussed in the book really resonated with me and I find are not discussed enough in YA or in the media in general. Some of these included abortion, pregnancy and single parenthood.

Sugiura has such a captivating and enthralling writing style I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve been having a hard week and I’m surprised I managed to pick up a book at all, but This Time Will Be Different definitely helped me battle through and I ended up reading the last 80ish pages in one go. I’m sure under different circumstances I would have absolutely stormed through this book in just a few days!

“But they don’t care. They’re just wildflowers, doing their thing, and they’re beautiful. Be like them, sweet pea. Just be you and be happy.”’

The only downside I have is how CJ could be super annoying at times. I loved her despite that, but I feel like it was just too out there occasionally. The story still could have been very enjoyable without me wanting to throw it against a wall in annoyance! Due to that, I’m going to knock off half a star unfortunately, but it was a very minor factor in the entire book.

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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