Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse
Before I tell you why I loved this book so much you should know some things about me.
I studied Japanese for several years & then advanced my studying at The Japan Institute in Kansai. So, although I say that I completely adored this book, it also broke my heart because I miss Japan so very much, and I cannot wait to go back. Here’s a few pictures of me in Japan.
Now, as far as a YA contemporary romance novel this book hits all the major points.
-coming of age protagonist
-love interest, bonus points for a love triangle
-miscommunication with best friend or either counterpart to love triangle
-drama w/ family
-life altering/emotional moments that makes our protagonist be less of a selfish a-hole
Check, check, and check them all. Seven Days of You is about a girl, Sophia (“Sofa”) who is moving from Tokyo to the states due to her mom’s work. Within this last week everything about her life and what she actually thinks she knows gets turned upside down – from the boy she thought she hated, the boy she thought she liked, the best friend she thought she knew everything about, the dad who lives in Paris, to what ‘home’ really means. It’s a coming of age story about a girl who acts like the world revolves around her, and slowly comes to realize that she isn’t the only one with problems, broken hearts, and how to generally accept what is coming next.
Plot-As far as the plot goes, I couldn’t really as for more. YA contemporaries are mostly about a teenager who is discovering themselves or concurring some fear of what they have to do. In this case, we get to experience Sofia basically getting over herself over and over as she has to struggle with forgiveness with her friends with how they unintentionally hurt each other. We’re too young to hold grudges, and are we really going to leave things the way they are the rest of our lives?
Characters-So our main character is Sofia, she’s your typical inexperienced teenager who is all swoony over the typical popular guy, David-despite how much of a D-Bag he is. Her best friend is Mika, a Japanese bad ass who makes up for the spunk and experience that Sofia lacks. Jamie-the sweet gangly kid who liked Sofia before he previously moved away from Japan in middle school with a huge misunderstanding.
The characters themselves were typical as far as YA contemporary goes. But, I mean, it’s cliché for a reason. I loved that no one was perfect, especially Jamie who is still dorky and awkward that you can’t help but adore him.
Setting-now this was obviously my favorite part. The entire time I was reading this I wanted to close my eyes and just revel in the memories of Japan that the book brought up. That would of course have been counter productive since I wouldn’t be able to continue reading.
Okay, so part of the setting was this school Tokyo International Academy, or T-Cad. This is basically a school where English speakers can get an education for ex-pats or just people that live there. These schools are real, believe it or not, in fact I have a friend who went to one in Tokyo. After discussing the little details the book gives that is based on a school called American School in Japan, ASIJ – I know can it be any more straight forward? This school meets the recipe-about an hour from the city center, has a large cemetery near it, and obviously primarily for foreigners who speak English.
Here’s the part that really got me though. Cecilia Vinesse did an amazing job describing the sounds and feels of Tokyo. From the sudden down pours of rain when the previous day was hot (the book is set right after Tsuyu, which is the rainy season of mid June/July). The idea of the air conditioning going out and how hot and humid it can get. The sounds of cicadas chirping in the distance and trains rushing by, hearing the announcements on the train. The red lights of tall buildings blinking in the night time, rows of vending machines, the unique flavored drinks-especially the obscure ones at Starbucks that you can only get in Japan.
“Tsugi wa, shibuya. Shibuya desu.”
Even just the simple sights like this,
“We got off behind a group of women wearing yukata and walking slowly toward the ticket barriers. Their tightly bound robes were dark blue with undulating patterns on them like moving water. They had jeweled kanzashi pinned in their hair and wooden geta on their feet.”
This is a completely normal sight to see there. Especially in the summer months when there are tons of masturi/festivals going on. Other details such as the famous Shibuya crossing make it easy for many people to visualize. Not to mention other minor details snuck in here or there. For once in a foreign book I didn’t have to Google every word. Words like genkan, purikura, hanabi, koen, kokeshi, temizuya, suica card, onigiri, etc
Anyway, I can go on and on about these setting development in the book, but let me just say it was spectacularly done. It really fills my heart with joy remembering all the unique things that make up Japan’s culture. I don’t know what it would have read for someone who doesn’t know much about Japan, but for me it was full of reminiscence. I want to go home and watch Lost in Translation now.