Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Now and Zen by Linda Gerber

I'm not typically a huge fan of romance novels, whether they be adult or young adult, but books with a little romance and a lot of other plot are usually right up my alley. The "Students Across the Seven Seas" series, written by various authors is awesome in that exact way. In each book, a high school age girl heads to a different country for a few months to learn something about a new culture and typically manages to fall in love while she's there. Which is ok. There is so much cultural information and fun facts about the country that the romance definitely takes second place in the plot.

Now and Then, written by Linda Gerber, follows Nori Tanaka to Japan, where she is instantly confused with being one of the locals. Sure, Nori is Japanese-American, but she doesn't speak the language, doesn't know her way around the city of Tokyo, nor does she have a leg up on any of her assignments, though several of her classmates certainly thinks she does. Nori tries to keep out of trouble while spending a lot of time seeing the sights of Japan with her roommate Amberly and and eventually going to spend a week with her sweet great-Aunt and Uncle outside the city.

The trouble begins when Nori finds herself mixed up in a love triangle, torn between two boys she really likes. Erik is the popular guy in the program; gorgeous and highly wanted by lots of girls, and whom ultimately tries to change Nori's personality. Atsushi is the sweet, friendly guy that really likes her for who she is. While visiting the gardens in Kyoto, Mt. Fuji, and the bustling streets in Tokyo, Nori tries to find her own "zen" and understand what she wants and what she stands for.

A great blend of fictional plot and cultural facts make up this quick read. The series does really well on our young adult shelves here at the library and I definitely understand why. The romance really is subtle compared to the other great aspects of the story.


Amy said...

sounds great, I always love anything related to Japan. :)

Ms. Yingling said...

Read The Finnish Line, also by the fabulous Linda Gerber. Covers a lot of good issues AND has some romance. Since Linda has lived in both Japan and Finland, the details in the books are wonderful.