I knew I was going to enjoy this book, but I didn’t realize I would end up loving this that much.
It was just so well developed on so many fronts, and I can’t help but be in love with every bit of this book. From its social activism, to developing CJ’s relationships, to really getting into the intricacies of family, This Time Will Be Different really covered all the bases and created a well-rounded contemporary story.
I can say upfront that I’d wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone who loves contemporary novels and would definitely reread this on multiple occasions.
CJ was such a complex, relatable, and endearing character!
CJ isn’t perfect, but that’s what makes her such a great main character.
She gets jealous, she’s sometimes self-absorbed, she can be shortsighted at times. And throughout This Time Will Be Different, CJ learns and grows and becomes a better person, yet is still herself.
I really related to her struggles with friendship—feeling jealous of other people, feeling insecure about not being a #winner, feeling stressed and inadequate and never enough. I think a lot of teens will appreciate this aspect of CJ’s storyline, and it’s okay to feel jealousy. You just need to learn how to cope/work it out.
Plus, she also had a really strong storyline going on with her mom and aunt, both over their differing views on activism, and also CJ not feeling like she’s living up to her mom’s expectations. CJ isn’t the “be in all the clubs” type, and she’s still working on finding her passion, which she’s finding a place for in her aunt’s flower shop.
ALSO ALSO it talks about (not just briefly) about how she had an abortion. And this is sex-positive. We stan.
CJ is such a complex character and she’s totally not perfect, as she gets stressed out and gets jealous and makes bad decisions sometimes, but that’s what makes her such an interesting main character.
The California setting & Heart’s Desire created a rich atmosphere.
I need an art print of the flower shop, Heart’s Desire. So badly.
It’s such a wonderful setting (SERIOUSLY! A flower shop!) and combined with the Northern California vibes, makes it really distinct.
The setting—and the history—play such an important part in the story, as the McAllisters—a white family who had bought property at unfair prices from the Japanese-Americans during the internment—had bought Heart’s Desire from CJ’s family.
It’s not just a pretty flower shop, but it also sets up a big part of the moral and social conflict. CJ’s mom works for the McAllisters, while her aunt has a long standing grudge, and I think both approaches to fighting racism—actively fighting vs. showing that you are successful in spite of what’s happening—were both acknowledged.
Sugiura really touches not just on intersectional elements, but also on the social conflict and how there’s multiple ways to be an activist. And there’s multiple ways to react to different things.
I loved the nuance she added to the story and narrative with this, and would definitely recommend because of this element too.
This Time Will Be Different truly has a little of everything.
It’s not just a cute romance. It’s not just a social justice story. It’s not just a coming-of-age story. It’s all of those, and all of those done well and given the proper time and respect within the narrative to make it satisfying and a wonderful story.
I think This Time Will Be Different is a story that does everything and does it well. It’s a book that I want to reread again and again, and one where CJ’s story really verbalizes feelings of jealousy and envy and not fitting in that I’ve experienced, and will continue to experience.
I’d wholeheartedly recommend, and definitely suggest you pick this one up! It’s wonderful, and this time really was different.
CJ loves working at her aunt’s flower shop, Heart’s Desire. It’s been in their family for generations, bought back from the McAllisters with a lot of hard work after the Japanese internment.
But Heart’s Desire isn’t doing so well on the money front, and the McAllisters are aiming to buy it back, aided by CJ’s mom, who does not see eye to eye with her aunt. With the ultimatum of only a few months to show a visible profit, or else her mom will sell the flower shop, CJ and her aunt give one last shot to save the flower shop.
One of the things they do is take on unpaid assistant Owen, who’s an admittedly cute history geek who goes to CJ’s school. Can CJ, Owen, and her friends and family save their flower shop from being bought by the people who wrongfully took it from their family, or will they lose this part of their heritage, too?
Thank you so much to Stephanie Stein & Harper Collins for sending me an advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review!