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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that in Misa Sugiura's This Time Will Be Different, 17-year-old CJ Katsuyama is making big decisions about her future and trying to right a terrible wrong from her community's past. CJ's mother, a high-powered Silicon Valley executive, expects her daughter to be an over achiever and aim high when it comes to a career, while CJ has found she loves working with flowers in her aunt's shop. But CJ proves a force to be reckoned with when it's revealed that her high school was named after a man with a racist past. CJ has another fight on her hands when that same man's family wants to buy the flower shop and tear it down for redevelopment. Teens get high vaping and drunk on beer, and there's a fair amount of profanity ("f--k," "crap," "s--t," "a--hole," "Jesus"). A girl reveals she got pregnant in her sophomore year and had an abortion. The cast of characters is ethnically diverse and includes teens who are gay, lesbian, and bisexual. The book deals with the subject of WWII internment camps.
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What's the story?
As THIS TIME WILL BE DIFFERENT begins, 17-year-old CJ Katsuyama and her mother are having their usual battle over CJ's perceived lack of ambition. Her mother -- a partner at McAllister Venture Capital in Silicon Valley -- thinks CJ needs a "killer attitude and a grand vision" if she has any hope for a successful future. But CJ has failed at coding camp, ballet, soccer, and piano, and it's only now, apprenticing in her Aunt Hannah's flower shop, that she's found something she's really good at. But the shop is being kept alive by a constant stream of money from CJ's mom, who's decided to pull the plug. McAllister Venture Capital has made an offer for the store (they want to tear it down and redevelop the land), and CJ's mom has told Hannah she wants to accept it. When CJ, hoping publicity might bring more business into the store, convinces a local reporter to write a story about the shop, she and the town are shocked by what the article reveals: Robert McAllister made his fortune buying up property for pennies on the dollar from Japanese Americans being sent to internment camps during World War II. One of those properties was the Katsuyamas' flower shop, and it took years for the family to afford to buy it back. Meanwhile, McAllister had become so prominent in the community that CJ's high school had even been named for him. But CJ is determined that, this time, things will turn out very differently for the McAllisters.
Is it any good?
CJ is a captivating character who holds together an unlikely mix of storylines about the "language" of flowers, unmet expectations, lesbian mixers, and World War II history. While This Time Will Be Different tackles timely, controversial topics (what should be done about public buildings named for long-dead racists, and should a new generation make amends for the actions of a racist ancestor?), it's also a sweet, relatable, and often funny coming-of-age story about a girl who's determined to find her own true self.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Asian students are perceived in This Time Will Be Different. Do you think students at your school ever stereotype people because of their ethnicity?
CJ's mother and aunt don't want her to become a "target," so they make her promise to keep her opinions about renaming her school offline. Do you know anyone who's been bullied or harassed on social media because of a cause they supported?
If schools/government buildings/other things are named after historical figures who turn out to have a problematic past, do you think the names should be changed?
- Author: Misa Sugiura
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Activism, Book Characters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, High School, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperTeen
- Publication date: June 4, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 18
- Number of pages: 386
- Available on: Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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