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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.

30 review for Himawari House

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lata

    A beautifully drawn story of a young woman spending a year in Japan to reconnect with her birth country and all the things about herself she hid while growing up in the US. She stays at a share house with some others, and becomes good friends with two of the other girls, one from Korea, the other from Singapore, who are in Japan for their own reasons, but all three young women are trying to find out who they are and what’s important to them. I loved the friendship, the artwork, all the food, and A beautifully drawn story of a young woman spending a year in Japan to reconnect with her birth country and all the things about herself she hid while growing up in the US. She stays at a share house with some others, and becomes good friends with two of the other girls, one from Korea, the other from Singapore, who are in Japan for their own reasons, but all three young women are trying to find out who they are and what’s important to them. I loved the friendship, the artwork, all the food, and the tone of his whole story.

  2. 5 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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. My thanks to NetGalley and First Second Books for an eARC copy of this book to read and review. Lovely artwork, nice coming-of-age story set in Japan. My only quibble is that since I was reading on a smaller screened device, I wasn't able to get the full effect of the artwork and I think I missed some flashback memory scenes that confused me, as I wasn't able to make out much detail and wasn't sure who the characters in the scenes were. I would recommend this in real book format, or read it on a l My thanks to NetGalley and First Second Books for an eARC copy of this book to read and review. Lovely artwork, nice coming-of-age story set in Japan. My only quibble is that since I was reading on a smaller screened device, I wasn't able to get the full effect of the artwork and I think I missed some flashback memory scenes that confused me, as I wasn't able to make out much detail and wasn't sure who the characters in the scenes were. I would recommend this in real book format, or read it on a larger screened device so you don't miss anything. I like how the three MC hs were all from different cultural backgrounds and how they were all open and welcoming of each other and their languages, food, etc. I will probably never get to live for a year in Japan and I will never have the background of these characters, but for a moment, I was able to imagine being in their shoes and able to try to understand how they felt and thought. I appreciate being able to do that, if only for a moment. The ending was very bittersweet and I hope that she gets to travel there and see them all again. 3 solid stars. Recommended if you enjoy coming of age stories.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Anniek

    This is a beautiful graphic novel about not knowing where you belong.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    Himawari House is a graphic novel written and illustrated by Harmony Becker. It centers on a shared house in Tokyo, which brings five young people together. Recent high school graduate Nao, who is half-Japanese, Japan-born, and Midwest-raised, decides to spend a gap year at Tokyo-based sharehouse – Himawari House to reconnect with her roots. Soon, Nao meets her housemates: Hyejung, a studious college-age Korean woman; Tina, a buoyant 25-year-old Chinese Singaporean; and two Japanese brothers, per Himawari House is a graphic novel written and illustrated by Harmony Becker. It centers on a shared house in Tokyo, which brings five young people together. Recent high school graduate Nao, who is half-Japanese, Japan-born, and Midwest-raised, decides to spend a gap year at Tokyo-based sharehouse – Himawari House to reconnect with her roots. Soon, Nao meets her housemates: Hyejung, a studious college-age Korean woman; Tina, a buoyant 25-year-old Chinese Singaporean; and two Japanese brothers, personable, bespectacled Shinichi and standoffish, curly-haired Masaki. As Nao reassimilates, she is relieved to discover that Hyejung and Tina speak English. The process of language learning, the way language can define identity, and multilingual experiences are lovingly illuminated in mostly translated Japanese, Korean, and English, with smudges denoting words lost in translation; characters' accents are respectfully rendered phonetically. Himawari House is written and constructed extremely well – it is far from perfect, but it comes rather close. Readers familiar with Asian culture will recognize how richly the narrative is steeped, including manga and manhwa onomatopoeia, nods to food, Asian pop culture, the konbini franchise Lawson, and so much more. Readers unfamiliar will appreciate the fluid, expressive cast, rendered in playfully shifting manga styles, and the intricately sketched scenery. All in all, Himawari House is an unforgettable story of personal growth in an exquisitely rendered setting.

  6. 4 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Ying

    Excellent!! I want everyone in my life to read this beautiful slice of life story about three young adults navigating their cultural differences. It’s illustrated so beautifully and told so well.

  8. 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. full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Maluck

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

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rochelle Bautista

    A huge thank you to First Second Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review! 4⭐️ 1🌶 This book hit me harder emotionally than I expected to the point that I took my time reading this bc I was both captivated by their individual stories and yearning for the life they’re living as foreign students studying in Japan. Before I dive into my review, I just wanted to share a backstory on why this graphic novel is special to me right now. I’ve been studying Japanese on and off for A huge thank you to First Second Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review! 4⭐️ 1🌶 This book hit me harder emotionally than I expected to the point that I took my time reading this bc I was both captivated by their individual stories and yearning for the life they’re living as foreign students studying in Japan. Before I dive into my review, I just wanted to share a backstory on why this graphic novel is special to me right now. I’ve been studying Japanese on and off for most of my life, my mom and aunt speak Japanese and I have half-Japanese relatives and on top of that, I’m a huge fan of the Japanese culture from their language, traditions, food, anime and manga. With that said, Japan has always been a part of my life and it has always been a dream of mine to study and live there so seeing these characters that are my age living the dream despite all the struggles and loneliness it might entail was a bittersweet journey for me. I’m both envious and inspired that I still have a chance and when I do, I can survive it just as they did. This graphic novel follows these foreign students who came to Japan to study and we explore their journey as they navigate through the good and the bad. They experience struggles such as language barriers, discrimination, self-doubt, identity, homesickness and more but alongside those, they make lifetime friends during their stay at Himawari House. All the characters in this were so lovable! I was invested in all of their individual stories and I enjoyed how there was a balance of funny, heartwarming and cry-worthy moments. The friendships and interactions they’ve made not only with those in the Himawari House but also outside of it were so wholesome and hearfelt. I also enjoyed the side of romance this had. The overall plot and setting perfectly depicted Japanese culture at its finest. I felt like I was transported there. The mood that the stories set was so cozy and homey. The art style was simple yet beautiful. I especially loved the character designs and how realistic and diverse they were. Another part that I liked in this was the use of the Japanese, English and Korean languages given the different nationalities and languages used by the characters. The english would often depict the accents of the characters which I like. As someone who has studied both Korean and Japanese, it was both fun and challenging for me to read this! (The kanji killed me 🙈) Overall, this was such an amazing graphic novel! I had the best time reading it and experiencing my dream through these unforgettable characters. I highly recommend this if you’re a fan of graphic novels with heartfelt stories and Japanese culture!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Arango

    I picked up HIMAWARI HOUSE thanks to @adriannacuevas , and I'm so glad I did because let me tell you, this new adult graphic novel is like ~nothing~ I've ever seen before. The book follows a group of young adults (a Japanese American from the US, a Korean, and a Singaporean) who have all moved to Tokyo to learn Japanese and figure out who they are. Like in Almost American Girl, the author uses scribbles whenever a character doesn't understand what is being said, switching to Japanese and Korean w I picked up HIMAWARI HOUSE thanks to @adriannacuevas , and I'm so glad I did because let me tell you, this new adult graphic novel is like ~nothing~ I've ever seen before. The book follows a group of young adults (a Japanese American from the US, a Korean, and a Singaporean) who have all moved to Tokyo to learn Japanese and figure out who they are. Like in Almost American Girl, the author uses scribbles whenever a character doesn't understand what is being said, switching to Japanese and Korean with grayed out English underneath whenever words are being understood. (Singlish gets spoken too!) The characters are presented as speaking English with all sorts of accents and grammar styles, making the dialogue a truly immersive experience. As an ESOL teacher, and just someone fascinated with language learning in general, it was wonderful to see all these linguistic interactions play out in the story, as well as all the cultural practices the girls were gathering and exchanging. This was all perfectly blended with each character's backstory and struggles, both at home and in Japan... Honestly, I would gladly gobble up a sequel. SO - if you're looking for a book that takes place outside the US, or one full of diverse Asian characters ranging in ages from 19 to their early twenties, or a book that will help you empathize with language learners in the States even more, then this is the one for you! George Takei wrote in his blurb, "Himawari House is a tantalizing peek into the future of our global society," and I couldn't agree more. Highly highly recommend.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Shepard (Between-the-Shelves)

    Ever since I read a review for this in Kirkus (I think?), it's been one of my most-anticipated graphic novels for the end of the year. Because it absolutely got rave reviews, and I am so happy that it lived up to my expectations. Not only is it beauitfully illustrated, but I loved the way that Becker incorporated Japanese, Korean, and other Asian languages into this book. It flowed seamlessly together and really brought something special to this story. At the heart, this is a graphic novel about Ever since I read a review for this in Kirkus (I think?), it's been one of my most-anticipated graphic novels for the end of the year. Because it absolutely got rave reviews, and I am so happy that it lived up to my expectations. Not only is it beauitfully illustrated, but I loved the way that Becker incorporated Japanese, Korean, and other Asian languages into this book. It flowed seamlessly together and really brought something special to this story. At the heart, this is a graphic novel about finding where you belong, trying to figure out your path in life. Each of the girls' stories hit strong emotional elements, and you'll quickly be drawn into their little home they find in Japan. I don't think I could find anything I didn't like about this book, and it's worth all of the buzz that it's been getting!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    A wonderful slice of life tale of five young adults sharing a house in Japan. Becker does a beautiful job showcasing Asian experiences of all kinds (Korean, Singaporean, Asian-American) with humor and empathy. A warm and lovely read from the artist of They Called Us Enemy. A wonderful slice of life tale of five young adults sharing a house in Japan. Becker does a beautiful job showcasing Asian experiences of all kinds (Korean, Singaporean, Asian-American) with humor and empathy. A warm and lovely read from the artist of They Called Us Enemy.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Beautifully illustrated and a really interesting slice-of-life story that discusses belonging, identity, familial expectations, found family, and how language can bring people together. I particularly enjoyed the fact that one of the housemates is from Singapore, and it was fun to see the mix of cultures and how they interacted and shared some of their holidays and foods. Wish that aspect had been emphasized a bit more rather than the romances, which seemed a bit weak in comparison.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    A gorgeously-illustrated story about identity, family, and belonging, told from three different Asian perspectives while living in Japan. It is impossible to not love these girls. What I liked the most was how it didn't shy away from the full spectrum of house-sharing experiences: physical and emotional closeness, tenderness, misunderstandings, frustrations, and reconnections. If you have nostalgia for living in Japan or know what it's like to feel like a foreigner no matter where you go, this g A gorgeously-illustrated story about identity, family, and belonging, told from three different Asian perspectives while living in Japan. It is impossible to not love these girls. What I liked the most was how it didn't shy away from the full spectrum of house-sharing experiences: physical and emotional closeness, tenderness, misunderstandings, frustrations, and reconnections. If you have nostalgia for living in Japan or know what it's like to feel like a foreigner no matter where you go, this graphic novel will give you a lot of feelings. 4.5 stars.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Adrian Spade

    One chapter in and I was about to cry on the Barnes & Noble floor. Super cathartic for any one estranged from their roots and trying to navigate their way through their diaspora - *especially* so for Asian Americans.

  17. 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.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Heather - hturningpages

    Gahh this was so cute! So moving with beautiful and 3-dimensional personalities and complex relationships. Full review to come!

  19. 4 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!!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I loved this book! I shed a couple tears and was not expecting that at all. I read it in about 2 hours and didn’t want it to stop. This really reminded me of living in an apartment with strangers when I got an internship in a different state. Now I want to go study abroad. This graphic novel was extremely heartwarming while it also tackled deep issues that the characters were facing. While each of the characters was facing a different problem, Becker did an amazing job at creating a bond between I loved this book! I shed a couple tears and was not expecting that at all. I read it in about 2 hours and didn’t want it to stop. This really reminded me of living in an apartment with strangers when I got an internship in a different state. Now I want to go study abroad. This graphic novel was extremely heartwarming while it also tackled deep issues that the characters were facing. While each of the characters was facing a different problem, Becker did an amazing job at creating a bond between the characters which led to a great representation of friendship. I wanna talk about one of the main character’s big problems in the book, she is bilingual but because she grew up in America she doesn’t know a lot of Japanese. While I don’t know how this must feel as I do not speak anything but English, I was able to get a feel for how it must be because of the images and dialogue. When the character was listening to another character speak and she didn’t know what they were saying in Japanese, the words would become fuzzy in the picture or gaps in the words. This was a great way to show that our character didn’t know what was happening while also showing me, the reader, what the struggle is like. As the story goes on and the main character learns more Japanese we see less and less of this fuzziness which shows she’s beginning to understand more, I thought it was a great concept to include. If you don’t know Japanese or Korean (as Korean is also spoken in this book) don’t worry, you won’t miss anything. Everything that our characters understand has subtitles. If there are no subtitles and you’re confused well congratulations because the character also has no clue what is being said. Like I said, a great concept. I found the illustrations really enjoyable. They are in black and white so if you’re only a fan of color this might not be the one for you. While the story deals with deep issues there is also a lot of humor in it and this is depicted in the illustrations and dialogue. Some of the illustrations reminded me of anime when the characters make super weird faces… I don’t know how else to describe it so I hope that makes sense. As I said before, there are a lot of deeper topics talked about throughout the book as each character is fighting their own battles. One thing I wish had been different was having separate books for each of the characters or even a longer book. Since all the characters were going through something and we were seeing all of their stories unfold, sometimes the stories were done quickly and we didn’t get to see it unfold in a lot of detail or it got jumbled with another character’s story and became confusing. I just wish more time had been spent on all characters because I did like them all but felt like some didn’t get as much time. The pacing just felt off at times. Should you read this book? Absolutely. This is a great graphic novel that depicts issues of feeling like you don’t belong, the pressure of fitting a mold, unrequited feelings, failure, but also strong female relationships. Honestly, it was so good. It didn’t end how I thought it would and I might just cry about it…again. Pick this up immediately, thanks!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Paige

    Disclaimer: I received this finished copy and an e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own. Book: Himiwari House Author: Harmony Becker Book Series: Standalone for now Diversity: Half Japanese MC Japanese side characters Korean MC Singaporean MC Rating: 5/5 Recommended For...: Young adult readers, contemporary, romance, graphic novel Genre: YA Contemporary Graphic Novel Publication Date: November 9, 2021 Publisher: First Second Pages: 374 Recommended Age: 13+ (Underage consumption of alcohol, Disclaimer: I received this finished copy and an e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own. Book: Himiwari House Author: Harmony Becker Book Series: Standalone for now Diversity: Half Japanese MC Japanese side characters Korean MC Singaporean MC Rating: 5/5 Recommended For...: Young adult readers, contemporary, romance, graphic novel Genre: YA Contemporary Graphic Novel Publication Date: November 9, 2021 Publisher: First Second Pages: 374 Recommended Age: 13+ (Underage consumption of alcohol, Parental abandonment, Language, Romance, Sexual content) Explanation of CWs: Implied and very little sexual content shown. Parental abandonment shown and mentioned. Alcohol usage shown by at least one minor (in USA terms, Nao is 18) and some alcohol consumption is shown by adults. There is some romance in this book, it's a misunderstanding trope. Synopsis: 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. Review: This was such a gorgeous and amazing read! I fell in love instantly with the characters and I loved how well developed they were. I also loved how authentic their words were and while Western media has long made fun of people who have accents and mispronounce words occasionally, I felt like this gave people learning new languages and/or those who aren't native speakers to a language a safe space to be in. I also loved the conversations the book had about cultural assimilation and fitting into a culture that you're from, but haven't been apart of or had any contact with in awhile. The book was also gorgeously illustrated and I'm dying for more stories of this world. My only tiny issue with the book is that I was a little lost in the beginning but it works very well for this book as we're just as lost as Naochan. It also felt a little weird with most of the different chapters being time skips and some not. Verdict: It was amazing and I highly recommend it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Reads

    "I feel like I'm mourning a twin I lost in childhood. A twin who never got to grow up... but who always... always... waited for me to come back. " ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫 Thank you to both First Second Books and Turn the Page Tours for an e-book and physical ARC of this book! All contents in this review are my honest opinion/thoughts. Himawari House follows Nao, Hyejung, and Tina, three girls who move to Japan for a year at a shared flat-house. Together, they learn more about one another and their cultures, attend J "I feel like I'm mourning a twin I lost in childhood. A twin who never got to grow up... but who always... always... waited for me to come back. " ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫 Thank you to both First Second Books and Turn the Page Tours for an e-book and physical ARC of this book! All contents in this review are my honest opinion/thoughts. Himawari House follows Nao, Hyejung, and Tina, three girls who move to Japan for a year at a shared flat-house. Together, they learn more about one another and their cultures, attend Japanese-language school together, deal with heartbreak and romantic interests, difficulty with their families, and the pains of growing up and making important decisions. The characters in this graphic novel were so multi-faceted and easy to love! I started this book knowing nothing other than three girls would be sharing a flat in Japan, and I thought this would be a light-hearted contemporary. There were plenty of times where I was laughing out loud, but I was also fighting back tears just as many times. The embarrassment of being in a language class or immersive course and not understanding the class instructions while everyone else seems to hit home hard to years of studying ASL with English banned during class! Every chapter had me not wanting to put this gorgeously illustrated graphic novel down! Becker really excelled at capturing the euphoric and tragic experience of becoming an adult and making life-changing decisions. Nao's journey of trying to find a place she felt she belonged broke my heart. What could have made this novel five stars for me? The ending felt too unresolved, but that is indeed personal preference as I am not a lover of open endings. And truthfully? The open ending did feel accurate and reminiscent of how as young/new adults, our relationships and friendships when moving often did not have closure or neat and tidy endings. I would love to read more by Harmony Becker, and I would also love to explore more in the world of graphic novels. If you've read Himawari House, and have any similar recommendations, I'd love to check them out! I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of graphic novels, character-driven stories, and the magical and painful experience of becoming an adult.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    3.5/5 stars 𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘬 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘵𝘰 𝘍𝘪𝘦𝘳𝘤𝘦 𝘙𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘴 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘦 𝘢 𝘤𝘰𝘱𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬. Graphic novels don't usually make me cry but this one made me cry in PUBLIC. I was literally silently crying on my plane while trying to pretend that everything was okay. This book hit home for me as a child of immigrants! I related to the feeling of not fitting in one place, of not fulfilling expectations after your parents worked so hard, and so many others. This book was beautifully written, it was heartwarming and to 3.5/5 stars 𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘬 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘵𝘰 𝘍𝘪𝘦𝘳𝘤𝘦 𝘙𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘴 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘦 𝘢 𝘤𝘰𝘱𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬. Graphic novels don't usually make me cry but this one made me cry in PUBLIC. I was literally silently crying on my plane while trying to pretend that everything was okay. This book hit home for me as a child of immigrants! I related to the feeling of not fitting in one place, of not fulfilling expectations after your parents worked so hard, and so many others. This book was beautifully written, it was heartwarming and touching. I loved the characters and the friendship between them in the book. The author really helped break the Asian monolith in this book. Each point of view was unique and each main character's culture was made very distinct from the other. I also loved the romance in this book, it was so CUTE! If you are a fan of the grumpy X sunshine trope, you will love this book! The only complaint I have is that I did find that the constant switching between POVs to be a bit confusing. Overall, the illustrations were beautiful and the story was extremely powerful. This is a book you need to pick up! I need a volume 2!

  24. 4 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!)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    This book absolutely blew me away. All of the characters were so well developed, and I loved how we got glimpses into all the women's backstories. Nao's storyline is one that I think many second generation (and beyond) readers can relate to. The guilt of not knowing your mother tongue or feeling judged by others for not being "enough" in either direction is something that resonates deeply. I loved the reassurance that simply by being herself, that is enough. Hyejung's story about familial pressu This book absolutely blew me away. All of the characters were so well developed, and I loved how we got glimpses into all the women's backstories. Nao's storyline is one that I think many second generation (and beyond) readers can relate to. The guilt of not knowing your mother tongue or feeling judged by others for not being "enough" in either direction is something that resonates deeply. I loved the reassurance that simply by being herself, that is enough. Hyejung's story about familial pressure and not knowing what to do with her life was also incredibly powerful and brought me to tears. I loved that we got to see the reconciliation and that there was some sort of resolution for her. Design wise, the art is beautiful, and I loved the double lines for English and Japanese or Korean. It allowed me to practice my Japanese and also helped you see things from Nao's perspective when there were Japanese words she didn't understand.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dan Allbery

    What makes something real? Is it only real if you can touch it? Is it only real if someone else agrees that it is? Is it only real...if it lasts forever? Himawari House is more than a home, it is a gathering spot for self-discovery. You will meet Nao, Hyejung, Tina, Shin, Misaki, and sweet Obaachan. All unique, and all with stories. But what unites them is a place--both in location and time--the Himawari House. This book definitely belongs on classroom shelves. Especially as a teacher in Asia, man What makes something real? Is it only real if you can touch it? Is it only real if someone else agrees that it is? Is it only real...if it lasts forever? Himawari House is more than a home, it is a gathering spot for self-discovery. You will meet Nao, Hyejung, Tina, Shin, Misaki, and sweet Obaachan. All unique, and all with stories. But what unites them is a place--both in location and time--the Himawari House. This book definitely belongs on classroom shelves. Especially as a teacher in Asia, many of my students will have strong connections to the characters and setting. I loved how Becker showed different languages being spoken and simultaneously, honoring them--please read the "use of accents" section at the back. The drawback for me were how many storylines were threaded into this book. Too many were underdeveloped or unresolved. Maybe fewer in more detail would have been the better option. Recommended for GR 6 and up.

  27. 5 out of 5

    ✰ Justine ✰

    Wow. Instant favorite. This was funny, sad, and really really heartwarming. I love the art style and the use of accents in the book, including the author's note that explained their choice to use accents for the characters. I loved Hyejung!! Such a brave character. Really all three of the main characters were super well developed. Their heartbreak, hurt, and happiness were all so palpable and real. Their journeys too discover themselves and their abilit to lean on each other for support. "What m Wow. Instant favorite. This was funny, sad, and really really heartwarming. I love the art style and the use of accents in the book, including the author's note that explained their choice to use accents for the characters. I loved Hyejung!! Such a brave character. Really all three of the main characters were super well developed. Their heartbreak, hurt, and happiness were all so palpable and real. Their journeys too discover themselves and their abilit to lean on each other for support. "What makes something real? Is it only real if you can touch it? Is it only real if someone else agrees that it is? Is it only real... if it lasts forever? Maybe it doesn't matter? However much of an illusion... however short... whether we remember in ten years, or in twenty... whether anyone else acknowlledges that it happened or not... it was real to me... and isn't that enough?" I love Himawari House <3

  28. 5 out of 5

    Christy Broderick

    This graphic novel was faced-paced and a really good read! Thanks again to NetGalley and First Second for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for feedback. This story provides details behind three foreign exchange students who live together in a Himawari House in Tokyo, all there for different reasons. On each of their journeys, they are faced with adjustments, language barriers, and starts to forever-lasting friendships. I really enjoyed seeing how each person developed over the length of This graphic novel was faced-paced and a really good read! Thanks again to NetGalley and First Second for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for feedback. This story provides details behind three foreign exchange students who live together in a Himawari House in Tokyo, all there for different reasons. On each of their journeys, they are faced with adjustments, language barriers, and starts to forever-lasting friendships. I really enjoyed seeing how each person developed over the length of the story and how they overcame their challenges near the end. What was also interesting was the fact that Harmony Becker, who illustrated George Takei’s graphic novel (which I read a few months ago), wrote and illustrated this GN! I was really excited to learn that and was immediately drawn to requesting this book.

  29. 4 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.

  30. 5 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.

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