“Faking Reality” by Sara Fujimura: Realistic and Authentic

Can a reality star princess transform the boy-next-door into her Cinnamon Roll Prince?

Dakota McDonald swore after “The Great Homecoming Disaster” that she’d never allow her romantic life to be a plot line in her parents’ HGTV show again. But when the restaurant run by the family of her best friend (and secret crush), Leo, is on the line, Dakota might end up eating her own words.

Leo Matsuda dreams of escaping the suffocating demands of working in his family’s restaurant, but the closer he gets to his goal―thanks to the help of his best friend (and secret crush) Dakota―the more reasons there are for him to stay.

Beyond the fact that Sara Fujimura is a local Arizona author, I’ve known for some time that I wanted to read this novel. I knew I would love the multicultural romance even though I am way older than her target audience but “Faking Reality” was even better than I’d hoped. It has such authenticity both in the presentation of the Japanese American characters but also in how the teenagers act. The Matsuda’s are especially realistic and authentic. The novel emphasizes Japanese-American culture and if you’re from Phoenix, the realism of the settings are clear from the very beginning. The characters are charming, engaging, and the romance is well written. 

There are a lot of reasons for why this novel is so well written. First, you can tell that there is a ton of authentic experience in Sara Fujimura’s writing.  It oozes off the page from the Japanese characters to the settings in the story. Her high school is typical of most high schools in the area. While the life of a DIY reality star princess might not be real, everything incorporated into the lifestyle and Dakota’s desire for a normal life resonate and are well thought out. 

Moving onto the romance elements, I happen to love that the characters don’t fall instantly into each other’s arms. They’ve been friends all their lives and it is not always simple to move from friendship to romance. Plus it makes for a much more exciting story. Both Dakota and Leo have reasons for liking each other but they also are supporting and caring friends. While the pair stay friends, there is enough drama from other elements in the novel to keep readers engaged. The reactions from both characters are realistic, even when they’re upset with each other but what I like the best is that they never truly stop being friends, even when it’s not easy. 

Between the realistic teen characters and the authentic cultural aspects, Sara Fujimura has written a YA multicultural romance that will appeal to her readers and make them want to read more of her writing. The characters are likable but not perfect and the story is engaging. I love realistic and authentic writing and this is some of the best. Once you read this one, I highly recommend reading Sara’s other books. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.  

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