cover image Sweet and Sour

Sweet and Sour

Debbi Michiko Florence. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-338-67159-9

Every year, Mai Hirano and Zach Koyama, along with their respective Japanese American families, spend the summer together at the Koyamas’ vacation home in Mystic, Conn. But unexpected news causes the Koyamas to move suddenly to Tokyo, and a painful betrayal between Zach and Mai sours their friendship. The pair haven’t spoken in two years when the Koyamas return, and Mai is ready to exact revenge on her former best friend. Except Zach isn’t anything like she remembers; he speaks Japanese and dresses “like a K-pop idol,” and, worst of all, acts like their fallout never happened. Confused and hurt, Mai struggles to navigate this seemingly different person, and to decide whether she wants to maintain her distance or explore a new and uncharted dynamic. Chapters titled “Sweet” and “Sour” alternate between good and bad memories, juggling the tweens’ past and present as they forge ahead toward an uncertain future. Centering tumultuous adolescence and its effects on emotional health, Florence (Just Be Cool, Jenna Sakai) effectively explores complex relationships between friends and family in this uplifting summer read. Ages 8–12. Agent: Tricia Lawrence, Erin Murphy Literary. (Sept.)