An American teen is swept away to Tokyo, Japan, beginning a posh new life with a father she’s never met.
Ever since her prescription-drug addicted mother went to jail, Elle Zoellner, who is European-American, African-American, and Native American on her mother’s side and Japanese on her father’s, has been in foster care. On her 16th birthday her long-lost father sends for her. Suddenly, Elle is living in a luxury Tokyo hotel owned by her family and attending an elite international school. It all seems like a dream come true until she meets her impassive father and indifferent grandmother and aunt. In an attempt to win them over, she makes her way into the superrich and popular clique at school, the Ex-Brats. But when Elle finds herself falling for the boy iced out by the group and hated by her family, her life becomes even more confusing. Cohn (Sam & Ilsa’s Last Hurrah, 2018, etc.) creates a fun, well-paced novel about family, friendship, and romance, but aside from Elle, many characters are underdeveloped and the plot feels like a soap opera. Cohn tries to tackle many important issues, including substance abuse, but doesn’t devote much attention to them. The ending feels rushed and abrupt, but the descriptions of Japanese etiquette and customs, sights, attractions, and food succeed.
Overall, a fun and enjoyable look into the drama of lives of privilege and power. (Fiction. 13-18)