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Himawari House

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A young adult graphic novel about three foreign exchange students and the pleasures, and difficulties, of adjusting to living in Japan. Living in a new country is no walk in the park―Nao, Hyejung, and Tina can all attest to that. The three of them became fast friends through living together in the Himawari House in Tokyo and attending the same Japanese cram school. Nao came A young adult graphic novel about three foreign exchange students and the pleasures, and difficulties, of adjusting to living in Japan. Living in a new country is no walk in the park―Nao, Hyejung, and Tina can all attest to that. The three of them became fast friends through living together in the Himawari House in Tokyo and attending the same Japanese cram school. Nao came to Japan to reconnect with her Japanese heritage, while Hyejung and Tina came to find freedom and their own paths. Though each of them has her own motivations and challanges, they all deal with language barriers, being a fish out of water, self discovery, love, and family.


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A young adult graphic novel about three foreign exchange students and the pleasures, and difficulties, of adjusting to living in Japan. Living in a new country is no walk in the park―Nao, Hyejung, and Tina can all attest to that. The three of them became fast friends through living together in the Himawari House in Tokyo and attending the same Japanese cram school. Nao came A young adult graphic novel about three foreign exchange students and the pleasures, and difficulties, of adjusting to living in Japan. Living in a new country is no walk in the park―Nao, Hyejung, and Tina can all attest to that. The three of them became fast friends through living together in the Himawari House in Tokyo and attending the same Japanese cram school. Nao came to Japan to reconnect with her Japanese heritage, while Hyejung and Tina came to find freedom and their own paths. Though each of them has her own motivations and challanges, they all deal with language barriers, being a fish out of water, self discovery, love, and family.

59 review for Himawari House

  1. 4 out of 5

    Wesley

    Thank you to Teen Ink and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Himawari House is the story of binding friendships, struggles and joys of identity, and mochi that you didn’t know you were missing out on. With illustrations that range from beautiful to adorable to masterfully expressive, Harmony Becker tells the story of three young women whose vastly different paths all lead them to a year in Japan at Himawari House. Nao barely remembers her childhood in Jap Thank you to Teen Ink and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Himawari House is the story of binding friendships, struggles and joys of identity, and mochi that you didn’t know you were missing out on. With illustrations that range from beautiful to adorable to masterfully expressive, Harmony Becker tells the story of three young women whose vastly different paths all lead them to a year in Japan at Himawari House. Nao barely remembers her childhood in Japan after years in the United States, despite constantly feeling too Japanese to fit in. But her struggle to understand her identity is only complicated when she suddenly finds herself too American in Japan. Hyejung hasn’t talked to her parents in Korea since she dropped out of college and moved to Japan, hoping to find her own path and move on from the aftermath of a secret relationship. At 25, Tina leaves Singapore dogged by the feeling that she’s already a failure – no savings, no degree, and still unsure of her future. Together, along with a complex and diverse supporting cast, Nao, Hyejung, and Tina navigate life in Japan and the ups and downs of finding yourself in a new place. As a reader who is fairly picky about the art in my graphic novels, Himawari House was a delightful read. The visual design and mannerisms of each character felt truly unique and enabled the book to include a robust supporting cast without confusing the reader. The art style moved gracefully between a more comic style for humorous moments and beautiful full-page illustrations that captured the book’s heavier moments. Among the book’s greatest strengths is its portrayal of learning a new language and being bilingual. All three main characters start off less than fluent in Japanese, while other characters struggle to understand English. By including both the original Japanese and English translations in dialogue, often with gaps and fuzzy patches where the character’s understanding falters, Himawari House captures the experience of learning a new language without sacrificing clarity, and arguably uses the format of a graphic novel to do so in a way that would not be possible in a novel. Although I usually find accents in dialogue distracting at best, I also came to appreciate the book’s thoughtful approach to this aspect of language learning. As Becker explains in an endnote, “Often characters are written with thick foreign accents for comic effect […] This legacy has cemented the idea that to have an accent is to be laughable, to be stupid, to be ‘other’” (Becker 376). By including many characters with strong written accents when speaking English, she purposefully combats the idea that such characters cannot also be complex and three-dimensional. By the end of the book, I enjoyed the way each character’s accent was unique to them and reflected aspects of their home and identity. Himawari House tackles some of the most central issues of a coming-of-age story: identity, friendships, and finding one’s own path. The former in particular can be easy to mishandle and clunky to read when done poorly, but the complexity and messiness of the characters led to struggles and joys that felt genuine and truly unique to each character. Nao especially captured the much-written-of struggle of being from two places in a way that felt entirely her own, and I loved the progression over the course of the novel in the way she understands her own identity. Funny and heartfelt, with beautiful illustrations, strong female friendships, and a thoughtful approach to its depictions of language learning, Himawari House captures the highlights of YA and graphic novels in one enchanting story. Whether you are a graphic novel devotee or simply looking for a good read, this is a book you will not regret picking up.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Emily Gilbow

    This was such a good read. It made me want to stay in a flatshare, and made me miss studying abroad and having a flatshare. I loved learning about all of the characters and where they came from.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Maluck

    A lot of contemporary, slice-of-life, and memoir comics have a new north star.

  4. 4 out of 5

    USOM

    (Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) I cried while reading Himawari House. Becker transports readers not only to Japan, but also to that feeling of leaving home. Of not being able to communicate, of meeting new friends, and of finding your own way. Himawari House is tender. About how she assimilated growing up, self-erasing, and how coming back nothing is the same. These moments made me feel seen, they resonated deep (Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) I cried while reading Himawari House. Becker transports readers not only to Japan, but also to that feeling of leaving home. Of not being able to communicate, of meeting new friends, and of finding your own way. Himawari House is tender. About how she assimilated growing up, self-erasing, and how coming back nothing is the same. These moments made me feel seen, they resonated deeply with me. Himawari House delves into the lives of Nao, Hyejung, and Tina.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amy Pickett

    A coming-of-age graphic novel about the experiences of several exchange students living in a shared house in Japan, focused on their searches for both community and individual identity (and maybe some romance). The illustrations are fantastic, but the plot was a little too introspective for my taste. However, it's fun getting to know each character as they experience a found family and realize that it's okay not to get things exactly right every time. A coming-of-age graphic novel about the experiences of several exchange students living in a shared house in Japan, focused on their searches for both community and individual identity (and maybe some romance). The illustrations are fantastic, but the plot was a little too introspective for my taste. However, it's fun getting to know each character as they experience a found family and realize that it's okay not to get things exactly right every time.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Natalie DC

    ~I received a digital ARC of this graphic novel as a part of Teen Ink's ARC Review Program in exchange for an honest review~ 3.5 stars! This was a heartwarming story about family, fitting in and finding yourself with an adorable found family element and some beautifully-illustrated, heart-wrenching scenes (chapter 13, I'm looking at you!) What caused me to take so long reading it (besides the fact that I'm on vacation) is the fact that I initially had trouble connecting to the characters simply b ~I received a digital ARC of this graphic novel as a part of Teen Ink's ARC Review Program in exchange for an honest review~ 3.5 stars! This was a heartwarming story about family, fitting in and finding yourself with an adorable found family element and some beautifully-illustrated, heart-wrenching scenes (chapter 13, I'm looking at you!) What caused me to take so long reading it (besides the fact that I'm on vacation) is the fact that I initially had trouble connecting to the characters simply because there were so many to keep track of with different, complex stories and experiences, that I think could've been better explored if one book had been dedicated to each character. With that said, if you have more time to sit down and really delve into these characters' stories, I think this could be an inspiring tale on identity and leaving home to find yourself (something really relevant to my life at the moment!)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    I received a digital ARC of this book through NetGalley from First Second for an honest review. Himawari House was such a genuine, honest story of Nao, Hyejung, and Tina - all who come from different countries and backgrounds to live and study in Japan. Every character in this story was well developed through their meaningful relationships and mutual understanding of what it means to be "Asian" but still an outsider. The illustrations were beautiful and really juxtaposed nicely with the main prot I received a digital ARC of this book through NetGalley from First Second for an honest review. Himawari House was such a genuine, honest story of Nao, Hyejung, and Tina - all who come from different countries and backgrounds to live and study in Japan. Every character in this story was well developed through their meaningful relationships and mutual understanding of what it means to be "Asian" but still an outsider. The illustrations were beautiful and really juxtaposed nicely with the main protagonists' poetic musings on life. Their different dialects and languages shine in such an impressive and authentic way! My heart feels full and I would love to see more.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sara (lyrical.reads)

    [ 5🌟 ] *Note: I received an e-ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I know it took me a while to finish this book, but I did not want it to end. There were so many parts that I bookmarked from friends being there for you at your most vulnerable to Nao's resonant feelings of not being "Japanese" enough as a Japanese American. And I did tear up. Many times. I loved the artwork, and I especially loved how language is used in the story. It was cool to see Japanese and K [ 5🌟 ] *Note: I received an e-ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I know it took me a while to finish this book, but I did not want it to end. There were so many parts that I bookmarked from friends being there for you at your most vulnerable to Nao's resonant feelings of not being "Japanese" enough as a Japanese American. And I did tear up. Many times. I loved the artwork, and I especially loved how language is used in the story. It was cool to see Japanese and Korean written into the story versus indicating to readers that the characters are speaking "x" language at a given moment. Preorder/read this book!!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Lewis

    I like the style of illustrations in this graphic novel and it was interesting to see the story from the point of view of all the characters. I did feel the chapters ended a bit abruptly and I'm not sure how I feel about the way words are written as they may sound when it is the speaker's second language. I would recommend this for older teens but as our library's graphic novel fans are younger teens it is not so well suited. I received this arc from netgalley in exchange for my honest review. I like the style of illustrations in this graphic novel and it was interesting to see the story from the point of view of all the characters. I did feel the chapters ended a bit abruptly and I'm not sure how I feel about the way words are written as they may sound when it is the speaker's second language. I would recommend this for older teens but as our library's graphic novel fans are younger teens it is not so well suited. I received this arc from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brigid

    Charming, heartfelt, warmhearted graphic novel about five young adults living in group housing in Japan, where they are studying and working and figuring out their lives. Great characters, great situations, and beautifully drawn. Reading this book is like spending a long, comfy vacation with people who are fun and easy to be around.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    review based on an ARC. I loved this little slice of life of a study abroad student among other Asian students in Japan. The friendships and relationships grow because of why they left and what they learn together.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Linda Stack-Nelson

    This was so full of humor and candor. The characters were real and sweet and varied. I feel like I just had a good catch up with wonderful friends.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Vianne

    4.25 oof, this one really resonated with me. With my recent binge of sapphic books, it's been a while since I've read something focused on Asian Diaspora Feels (TM) and Himawari House really reminded me of how much I need those stories in my life. Becker's illustrations were lovely and totally set the atmosphere for the story. It was melancholy at times, humorous at others, and just deeply heartfelt overall. I absolutely loved the way language was portrayed in this graphic novel. 4.25 oof, this one really resonated with me. With my recent binge of sapphic books, it's been a while since I've read something focused on Asian Diaspora Feels (TM) and Himawari House really reminded me of how much I need those stories in my life. Becker's illustrations were lovely and totally set the atmosphere for the story. It was melancholy at times, humorous at others, and just deeply heartfelt overall. I absolutely loved the way language was portrayed in this graphic novel.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

  15. 5 out of 5

    SL

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tomato Stomper

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amy Formanski Duffy

  18. 5 out of 5

    Shelbie

  19. 4 out of 5

    Liz

  20. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  21. 4 out of 5

    Maya K

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stef

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lydia

  24. 5 out of 5

    susen s

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  26. 4 out of 5

    Annie

  27. 5 out of 5

    ThatOneCornerReader

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Frick

  29. 4 out of 5

    Alex'S

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  31. 5 out of 5

    Rich in Color

  32. 4 out of 5

    Kaja (red panda) *:・゚✧

  33. 5 out of 5

  34. 5 out of 5

    Peach

  35. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan A

  36. 5 out of 5

    Jess

  37. 5 out of 5

    h

  38. 4 out of 5

    Jen

  39. 5 out of 5

    Noa Sperber

  40. 4 out of 5

    *mk*

  41. 5 out of 5

    Gal Davidov

  42. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  43. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  44. 4 out of 5

    Kat

  45. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

  46. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  47. 4 out of 5

    Erica

  48. 4 out of 5

    Giorgia Pascali

  49. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  50. 4 out of 5

    Zachary Krishef

  51. 4 out of 5

    Shayna

  52. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

  53. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Salisbury

  54. 4 out of 5

    Bree Dumont

  55. 5 out of 5

    Grace

  56. 4 out of 5

    Patty May

  57. 4 out of 5

    Michal Ness

  58. 4 out of 5

    Abbie

  59. 4 out of 5

    Sheree

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