Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wanderlust Wednesday Review: Swimming to Tokyo by Brenda St John Brown


I'll be honest: visiting Japan has never really appealed to me. I'm not sure what it is - the fact it's so far away, or maybe just because I've always been interested in (*cough* obsessed with) the UK and Europe. But after reading Brenda St John Brown's Swimming to Tokyo, I feel like I've actually been to Tokyo. For that reason, I'm pausing from Wanderlust Wednesdays dedicated to my trip to London, Paris, and Rome, and doing a special review edition of Wanderlust Wednesday.

Swimming to Tokyo by Brenda St John Brown
Series: Standalone
Published: July 28th, 2014
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
235 pages (ebook)
Genre: Contemporary New Adult
Acquired this book: Bought
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

The rules for swimming are simple:

Rule #1: There is no lifeguard on duty.

Since her mom died three years ago, nineteen-year-old Zosia Easton’s been treading water. Living at home. Community college. Same old Saturday nights. So when her father breaks the news he’s taken a job transfer—and by the way, it means renting out the house that’s been her refuge—a summer in Tokyo feels like it just might be a chance to start swimming again.

Rule #2: Beware of unexpected currents.

Finn O’Leary has spent God knows how many years trying to drown out his past. Juvenile detention. Bad decisions. Worse choices. He’s managed to turn it around – MIT, Dean’s List, a sexier-than-thou body with a smile to match – at least on the surface. When his mom asks him to spend the summer with her, Tokyo seems as good a place as any to float through the summer.

Rule #3: Swim at your own risk.

Swimming to Tokyo wasn’t what I was expecting. I’d heard great things about it and many of my blogger friends loved it, but for some reason I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. I don’t think the synopsis does it justice; this book is emotional, funny, sexy, sweet, and swoony. It incorporates all the things I love best about New Adult books, and does it in a fascinating setting that’s different from the typical European or US summer vacation books.

This is a story that starts out quiet and kind of sneaks up on you. It didn’t take long for me to get sucked into Zosia and Finn’s story and fall hard for them. St John Brown managed to take a trope I’m mostly tired of seeing - tortured hero who doesn’t believe he’s good enough for the heroine and doesn’t want to be with her for her own good - and turn it on its head. Finn completely stole my heart. He was serious and intense, but had all these unexpected sides to him, and so much depth. He was flawed, believable, and genuine. He was damaged and it affected his life and relationships, but Zosia had this unexpected way of getting past his defenses and making him lower his guard. I loved these two together, whether they were exploring Japan, hanging out, driving each other crazy, or having super steamy sexytimes (the way the physical relationship was handled was one of my favourite parts of the book, and was beyond sexy). I thought the progression of their relationship was believable and it was a pleasure to watch. 

I also really enjoyed watching Zosia grow up in a lot of ways. She’d been through a lot and was trying to cope with the heartache she’d experienced. I liked her relationship with her best friend and grandmother, and found the dynamics between Zosia and her dad interesting and believable. I loved watching her become independent, stand up for herself, and forge her own path.

Swimming to Tokyo has well fleshed-out characters, an interesting setting, and manages to bring both the feels and the swoons. It has a lot more emotional depth than I expected, and I love that it had the ability to make me grin, laugh, and tear up. This is one of my new favourite NAs, and I'm eager to see what Brenda St John Brown writes next. In the acknowledgments she says she'd love to write a book set in Paris, and let me just say I am so here for that!

Have you read Swimming to Tokyo? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Have you ever been to Japan? Let's talk here or on Twitter!

1 comment:

  1. This sounds fun. Isn't it funny how you think you don't have any desire to go to a place until you do? Not that you actually went to Japan but you get what I'm saying, right?


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