I Love You So Mochi Cover
Synopsis from the Creator:

Kimi Nakamura loves a good fashion statement.

She's obsessed with transforming everyday ephemera into Kimi Originals: bold outfits that make her and her friends feel like the Ultimate versions of themselves. But her mother disapproves, and when they get into an explosive fight, Kimi's entire future seems on the verge of falling apart. So when a surprise letter comes in the mail from Kimi's estranged grandparents, inviting her to Kyoto for spring break, she seizes the opportunity to get away from the disaster of her life.

When she arrives in Japan, she's met with a culture both familiar and completely foreign to her. She loses herself in the city's outdoor markets, art installations, and cherry blossom festival -- and meets Akira, a cute aspiring med student who moonlights as a costumed mochi mascot. And what begins as a trip to escape her problems quickly becomes a way for Kimi to learn more about the mother she left behind, and to figure out where her own heart lies.

In I Love You So Mochi, author Sarah Kuhn has penned a delightfully sweet and irrepressibly funny novel that will make you squee at the cute, cringe at the awkward, and show that sometimes you have to lose yourself in something you love to find your Ultimate self.

Review: I Love You So Mochi, by Sarah Kuhn

[fa icon="calendar"] Jul 10, 2019 9:45:00 AM / by Suzanne

On the cover, there’s a blurb from Maurene Goo that reads, “As sweet and satisfying as actual mochi... a tender love story wrapped up in food, fashion, and family. I gobbled it up.” Honestly, that’s a perfect one-line review. I Love You So Mochi really is as sweet as mochi.

Kimi is a senior in high school and the book opens with her having something of an identity crisis. The book opens with her and her mother having one of those very devastating silent fights about Kimi not wanting to pursue art school. But what does Kimi want to do with her life if not the art she’s been creating since she was four?

Most of the book takes place in Japan, as Kimi accepts an invitation from her estranged grandparents to visit for two weeks during her spring vacation. Readers see Japan through the lens of a Japanese-American girl who’s never visited but is still deeply connected to the culture. It’s an interesting blend of tourism and coming home that feels uniquely Kimi. Kuhn does a great job of showing the reader Japan not as a series of locations but as Kimi’s journey of self-discovery through discrete experiences.

As you might have guessed, there’s also an adorable romance. It’s packed with the kind of flirting that only happens on vacation - the shyness of meeting someone new combined with the risk-taking that comes with being out of your element. Akira is sweet and loves Kimi for who she is, with all her bright patterns and enthusiasm. Their relationship is very much a Happy For Now, but that works because they’re teenagers and separated by an ocean at the end. (Thank you, technology, for helping us bridge continents and oceans for love.)

There’s a lot of food and a lot of fashion, and it’s obvious to the reader long before it’s clear to Kimi that her passion is fashion. None of these things overwhelm the story, however, and the entire thing is grounded by Kimi’s personal relationships. The bonds she forms with her grandparents are so genuine and they don’t meld into the same person like some literary sets of grandparents do. Wonderful contemporary world-building and character arcs all around.

You will enjoy I Love You So Mochi if you like:

  • Fluffy romance (low-heat, just kissing)
  • Excellent friends
  • Sewing/art/fashion
  • Food and travel
  • Complicated family dynamics that wind up as a love fest
  • Mochi

Suzanne borrowed this book from her library.

Topics: review