Summer Haikus by S.J. Pajonas
Publisher: Onigiri Press
Publication Date: August 2015
“When it comes to fight or flight, I always choose to run like hell.”
Isa planned the perfect summer:
Tokyo and the Summer Olympics — check.
Helping her best friend prepare for the marathon — check.
Forgetting she’s in love with Masa — double check.
But when Isa’s mother is hospitalized, she has to abandon her summer plans to run the family’s Tokyo business. Masa’s offer to help makes it impossible for Isa to ignore him — and the firecracker kiss they shared half a world away. Everyone expects the world of her, but the pressure to please them all is as oppressive as the Tokyo summer heat. The simplest answer to all her problems? Run.
*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Summer Haikus is the first and only S.J. Pajonas book I’ve ever read, and I must say, what a first impression. When I read the blurb, I expected a light, sweet read; but I didn’t expect to like the story so much.
Isa is a Japanese- American college student, who lives and studies in the US because that’s where her father lives. During the summer, she plans to stay with her family in Japan so that she can bond a little with her relatives and also act as a coach for her best friend (Halley) who is partaking in the Olympics. Her holiday in Japan is also an opportunity for Isa to spend time away from Masa, her other best friend, who she has been in love with for a while, but is scared to make a move.
There are lots of things about Summer Haikus that made me enjoy reading it, but the first thing I noticed and loved (apart from the cover) is the author’s choice of words. The author clearly has a way with words, and her descriptive phrases are just so good, that before I finished reading the book, I was more than impressed and longing to visit Japan in order to see it all for myself.
Another thing I like about this book is the culture and diversity involved. The author has clearly done her homework when it comes to all things Japan- related, and it’s clear from the descriptions and the inclusion of language and culture. The story is also filled with enlightening details of the Japanese culture, and I truly felt like I was in Tokyo with Isa, experiencing things alongside her.
I like the fact that although Summer Haikus is a love story, there is an actual plot besides the romance. There is the struggle with family obligations, unrequited love, and Isa’s anxiety issues. The actions of the characters are very realistic, and the characters, themselves, are lifelike in their emotions. Masa’s haikus are also a pretty great addition to the story.
My favourite aspect of the story is Isa, herself. She’s a hard worker, who finds difficulty in being spontaneous, and tries to please everyone in her life. She puts aside her own needs most of the time to take care of her mother’s business, and also to help Halley through her Olympic training. I also like the clear bond between Isa and Halley. Even though Halley is the pretty, popular one, Isa manages to be the “sidekick” without actually being the sidekick.
There is a lot more to be said about Summer Haikus as a whole, but I fear I’ll be giving too much away. From the diversity to the sweet romance to the relationships to the haikus themselves, everything in this story adds up in the best way without being cliché or remotely unrealistic. If you are looking for a light read that includes diversity and realism, this is the book for you. 🙂