Sophia had lived in Tokyo for four years with her mother and sister, but at the beginning of this novel, she had precisely seven days left in the city. She planned to spend her remaining days ignoring the fact that she was leaving her two best friends for a place where she doubted she would be able to make new friends. And, to make matters worse, Jamie Foster-Collins moved back to the city. Sophia and Jame did not part in good circumstances, and she thought that his arrival ruined her last week in Tokyo, but of course, this being a contemporary romance, they fall in love instead.
Okay. I love my contemporary romances, but I could have easily passed on this one if it wasn’t for the setting. When was the last time I read a contemporary YA set in Japan? Um, never, I think. And so, despite having my doubts (it’s still a white-people-falling-in-love-in-Japan story, after all) I put this high up on my TBR list.
I’m kind of disappointed in this book. I think my reaction would have been stronger if I wasn’t more resigned, and wondering to myself, well, what was I expecting? First of all, I find Sophia and her two best friends Mika and David annoying. Sophia lived in Japan for FOUR YEARS, and speaks no Japanese whatsoever. How is that even possible? Oh, right. She’s one of those people who expected the world to accommodate her, rather than learn to adapt to different environments. While I don’t expect her to be fluent since she goes to an international school, she ought to be able to handle basic conversations – that’s something one could easily pick up in a couple of months. Mika might be half-Japanese, but she’s characterised like a spoiled American teen, and David is just an awful person who makes racist jokes. I can’t really comment on Jamie Foster-Collins, as I don’t think his character made much of an impression on me. In the end, my favourite person in this book is a minor character that I hope would be better friends in Sophia in the future. Sophia needs the good influence.
The setting, which was the reason I wanted to read the book in the first place, turned out to be very 2D – besides the mention of tourist spots and the occasional anime, kimono, karaoke or other markers like that (all of which also exist out of Japan, technically), it could be set in any city and it wouldn’t make a difference. The story might be set in Japan, but in this story, Japanese people only exist far in the background and were only worth mentioning when the narration points to things like how slowly the women in yukata walked, or how Sophia hated having to order pizza in Japanese while she’s living in Japan.
It’s like I was reading a YA version of Lost in Translation, except the characters in Lost in Translation at least had the excuse of not having lived in the city for years.
Needless to say, I was pretty incensed while reading this. I was ranting to most of the people who talked to me while I was reading it. But I couldn’t stop reading! Because as a contemporary romance, it still made me want to see how everything unfolds for Sophia and Jamie. What would happen at the end of that seven days? I wanted to know.
There are also a few good things – like Sophia’s relationship with her sister. I wish there was more interaction between them, and the subplot on them and their feelings about their father (who abandoned their family to move to France) were given more attention, because it was more interesting than all the other stuff. I also liked that this novel tried to depict the life of a third culture kid, although it didn’t do it very well – Sophia seemed to be an exception rather than the rule.
Seven Days of You could have been a pretty good read I’d happily recommend if it wasn’t for the setting and characters – as it is, I guess I would label it as an “okay”, if disappointing, read.