I picked up Bounce Back by Misako Rocks! several weeks ago, while I was in the vehicle waiting for someone to leave the grocery store. I did not get very far, so when I picked it up again a few days ago, I skimmed to remind myself what was going on. I realized I had missed pages and a couple plot points.
So, not off to a good start for this cute book with diversity and contemporary themes. But I got into the swing of things as I read about Lilico and her friends. The story is familiar, a young girl leaves her home and friends behind in Japan. New York City is impressive, but the language is odd, the kids at school keep calling her the New Girl, and she is not having an easy time of things as practically the first thing that happens is she gets on the wrong side of Emma, captain of the basketball team. It goes on to have Lilico make two new friends, start to adjust to American school, maybe get a boyfriend, learns how to communicate with her family again (as they have issues in this new country, too) and maybe will find a way onto the basketball team after all. But when Lilico starts to ignore one set of friends for another, that is when things get tense.
I was not thrilled with how some pieces of the story worked out. One or two have Lilico being clueless with her actions, and others have the other characters being clueless. Then there is the out of the blue a talking cat (which has a piece of their puzzle mentioned but never explained). Yet, all of that is my adult brain talking and ages (strong) 8-9 to 12-13 (lower reader, but the characters are that age) will be fine.
One of the points I was behind was the art and style of story is pure manga (I was able to hear the picture of the cat Nico “spazing out” as well as see it). However, it is written to be read in the left to right western style of text. The other is the culture of Japan is smoothly shown throughout the story. There is also some serious fangirling by one of Lilico’s new friends, plus extras after the story itself.