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This Time Will Be Different (book)

Creators: Misa Sugiura

Acclaimed coming of age novel by Misa Sugiura that explores the continuing impact and relevance of Japanese American incarceration.

Protagonist CJ Katsuyama is a high school junior in Silicon Valley, where her hard-driving single mother Mimi is a partner at McAllister Venture Capital. Her Aunt Hannah, Mimi's younger sister, lives with them and also runs the family business, a struggling flower shop named Heart's Desire. Besides having extremely different personalities, the sisters are also divided by history: Robert McAllister, patriarch of the McAllister family, had agitated for the forced removal of Japanese Americans during World War II and had profited by buying up homes and businesses owned by Japanese Americans, including Heart's Desire. Frank Katsuyama, CJ's grandfather, was unable to buy the store back after returning from Heart Mountain , and ended up working for twenty-eight years before he could afford to buy the store back in 1973. Frank had a heart attack and died shortly after Mimi went to work for McAllister; Hannah blames his death on her. CJ has begun helping Hannah at the shop and finds that she enjoys working with the flowers and that she is good at it. She also enjoys working with Owen Takasugi, a classmate and son of a family friend who also volunteers at the shop. Despite their efforts, the shop has been losing money for years, and has been propped up by Mimi's silent sponsorship. When Mimi announces that McAllister is willing to buy the shop and the property for $3 million, Hannah and CJ are aghast. CJ's efforts to use the lessons learned from her mother to try to stop the sale grow into a larger movement to redress the wrongs of history. CJ also navigates a complex web of high school friendships and desires that ebb and flow with her growing politicization.

Author Misa Sugiura was born in Chicago to Japanese postwar immigrant parents and raised in Northfield, a largely white suburb, where she was one of the only Asian American kids in her school. After graduating from Princeton in 1991, she taught English in Kobe, Japan, for three years, then became a high school English teacher in Santa Clara, California, after which she had two children and "took a long hiatus" before beginning her first novel at age forty-six. That novel, It's Not Like It's a Secret , a young adult novel with a Japanese American teen protagonist, was published in 2017 to great acclaim. Sugiura told Reera Yoo that the plot of This Time Will Be Different was inspired in part by the death of her uncle, a Japanese Canadian who was forcibly removed and incarcerated during World War II, but who never talked about his experiences as well as controversies at Yale and Princeton over the naming of buildings after "great men" who turned out to be racists or slave owners. She also drew on the history of Japanese Americans in floriculture in the South Bay area, and told an interviewer for the Texas Teen Book Festival that she "liked the metaphor of the flower shop being full of beautiful flowers that had been cut off from their roots, like CJ." She continues to live and work in the Silicon Valley with her husband and two children.

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho
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Find in the Digital Library of Japanese American Incarceration

This Time Will Be Different

This item has been made freely available in the Digital Library of Japanese American Incarceration , a collaborative project with Internet Archive .

Might also like The War Outside by Monica Hesse; Painting the Rainbow by Amy Gordon; Beacon Hill Boys by Ken Mochizuki

Media Details
Author Misa Sugiura
Pages 400
Publication Date 2019
Awards <a class="external text" href="" rel="nofollow">Best Teen Fiction of 2019 List, Chicago Public Library</a>


Dobbs, Christina L. The Horn Book Magazine , July/August 2019. [The story can occasionally feel a bit overcrowded and clumsy in its integration of all these issues, but when it hews closely to CJ’s perspective, it paints an engaging picture of a girl facing the past—both her family's and her own—in service of her future.]

Kiely, Brendan. " Summer of Love, Where Have You Gone? " New York Times , June 28, 2019. ["This masterly weaving of the personal, political and historical is one of the novel’s greatest strengths. A story with so many narrative threads might easily unspool, but Sugiura keeps it tightly interlaced through CJ's captivating, honest, often hilarious point of view."]

Kirkus Reviews , Apr. 15, 2019. ["Sugiura tackles an abundance of topics with finesse, including social and economic injustice, allyship, and feminism, simultaneously breaking down the Asian-American immigration narrative and the myth of the model minority."

Publishers Weekly . ["Sugiura provides an entertaining and informative backdrop that allows CJ to explore her own sense of identity while giving readers a front seat to her process."]