In “From Little Tokyo, With Love,” writer Sarah Kuhn interweaves YA’s romance, family drama, and the story that is part of the love letter to the neighborhood in which it is set.
The author of the heroine complex novel, Kuhn, has been addicted to this section of downtown for a long time after moving to Los Angeles and being introduced to Little Tokyo through a friend. “It was really beautiful and inspiring to see that it became the hub of many of LA’s local Asian-American art communities,” Kuhn said on the phone. “That was what I really wanted to do. Story.”
In the novel, Rika, now from Penguins Young Leaders, is a mixed-race teenager whose two aunts and two cousins grew up like sisters in Little Tokyo. A chance encounter with a celebrity encourages her to learn more about herself and her family.
Kuhn says Rika’s development began with a few questions. “What if you have a girl who doesn’t believe in fairy tales, happy endings, and romance and finds out that she really has the greatest connection with someone? After the myth, happily the whole perpetrator? Which is it? What does it take to actually get her to change your mind? “
Through Rika, Kuhn also speaks to a young woman about her anger. “When I was growing up, I always thought I had this really bad temper. My mother always told me to be’calm’,” Kuhn says. “As I got older, I started thinking we would talk to young girls — and this seems to affect especially young Asian girls — angry is inherently bad. “
Kuhn opposes Rika and her beliefs, who are suffering from her own anger in the course of the story. “I want to talk to her and tell herself, and I want to tell the other girls that being angry isn’t really bad,” Kuhn says. “It’s often the right reaction to something, or a protective reaction to something.”
The celebrity is a Japanese-American movie star known for her romantic comedy. Kuhn creates her after watching the movie “Crazy Rich Asians” and being made to wonder “what if I was a kid and basically had Asian American Meg Ryan?” I was prompted to.
Kuhn said: “I think it really changed my view of many things. I think it changed my own view.”
Kun himself is a third generation Japanese-American and mixed race. She grew up in the countryside of Oregon. “I had a family, but I wasn’t surrounded by many Asians in my daily life,” she says. “I don’t think I really felt like an Asian-American community. I think I’ve always longed for it, even if I didn’t know exactly what it was.”
It all changed after she moved to Los Angeles and became a writer. “The Asian-American community has always appeared for me,” says Kuhn. “Especially locally, we really show up for each other, for each other’s projects, for each other’s causes.”
In the novel, Kuhn explores ethnic identity and community complexity. “I think I had this idea when I joined the various Asian-American communities as a mixed-race person. Can I accept it,” says Kuhn. “What has been enlightening and revelatory so far is talking to many other Asian Americans in the community. We are all under this big umbrella that holds our identity together. But under that umbrella is a lot of identities. There are many nuances between them. There are some things in common and some things that aren’t. “
Much of this happens in and around the fictional Little Tokyo, filled with real details that may only have been written by those who have spent a lot of time in the area. The almost hidden gardens of the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, and even a local cat named Mr. Sherman, nods to Suehiro Cafe, a long-standing Japanese comfort food spot.
While writing “From Little Tokyo, with love,” Kuhn himself spent time downtown exploring the routes that the character could follow. She knew early on that she wanted to set up a scene in the central library. “I love the building. It’s so beautiful,” she says, “and I think it’s very exciting as a writer and as a person.” When Kuhn visits the Central Library, she Sometimes parked in Little Tokyo, grabbed something to eat and walked from there. Also, before heading to the library, I sometimes parked at the Grand Central Market, which is also mentioned in the book, to eat. “I walked back to the library and gave me this incredible little time to think about what I’m writing and what I’m doing today,” she says.
This attention to the setting makes the novel really come back to life for the local readers. “I really want to show that LA and Little Tokyo are so magical and beautiful places with a lot of history and culture,” says Kuhn. “Hopefully, I was really happy to see some of it on the page.”
Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo gets a love letter in new YA novel set in Asian American community – San Bernardino Sun Source link Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo gets a love letter in new YA novel set in Asian American community – San Bernardino Sun