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Midori by Moonlight    by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga Amazon.com order for
Midori by Moonlight
by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga
Order:  USA  Can
Griffin, 2007 (2007)
Softcover

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*   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

Midori Saito's life is finally coming together. With her mother's disapproval still ringing in her ears, she's embarked on a new life in America. Sure, her parents never wanted her to leave Japan, but they did want her to get married and that's exactly what she's about to do. Kevin, an American English teacher she met in Japan, seems perfect for her. His offer of marriage was a dream come true. After all, she's been infatuated with all things American for years. The lifestyle Kevin offers is the icing on the cake for Midori, who has visions of the American Dream, complete with white picket fence, dancing through her head.

What she never counted on, however, was being dumped the day after her engagement party for a blonde ex-girlfriend Midori didn't even know existed. How is she supposed to face her family after such a humiliating experience? Deciding she's not ready to give up on her dream quite yet, Midori takes matters into her own hands. With only sixty days left to go before her visa expires, Midori has to lean on Shinji, a friend of Kevin's, to help her out. As she struggles to become a pastry chef and learn to fit in, Midori also has to deal with her feelings for Shinji. The problem is, Shinji's already attached to a woman who seems perfect for him.

Tokunaga's fish out of water premise hints at a quirky, delightful story that never quite materializes. Midori is much too nave to be taken seriously, and her constant attempts at fitting in ring false and contrived. Even her feelings for Shinji, which follow a predictable course, seem convenient instead of truly heartfelt.

It's clear that Tokunaga is familiar with Japanese culture, however, and that's where the book really shines. The peeks at Japan's grim reality are fascinating, and much more engrossing than Midori's relationship problems. Japanese culture and the way it's perceived also seeps into the relationships unfolding between the characters, which adds an interesting layer to otherwise dull character development. Readers interested in a cultural journey will be disappointed by the predictable turn of the plot, but those who enjoy their chick-lit on the light and fluffy side will likely devour Midori by Moonlight.

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