Now and Zen by Linda Gerber. (Grades 5-8.)
Nori Tanaka is getting away from her feuding parents and going to Japan on an exchange program. She didn't particularly want to go to Japan, she just wanted to go SOMEWHERE to get away from her parents. Now that she's in Japan, she wants nothing more than to forget about their impending divorce. And once she spies the uber hottie Erik from Germany, she thinks she's got the perfect distraction.
There's just one problem with being in Japan. Because she's Japanese-American, the foreigners all assume she's local. And the locals all know she's foreign. When Erik mistakes her for a Japanese girl, she doesn't correct him right away because she wants him to like her. And the longer the deception goes on, the harder it is to 'fess up. The worst part is that Nori is taking advantage of her new Japanese friend Atsushi. How did Nori ever get into this mess? And can she come clean with everyone and fix her mistakes before it's time to head home?
I found this book in the Students Across the Seven Seas series to be a bit harder to get into than Heart and Salsa, mainly because Nori wasn't a very likable character at the beginning of the book. True, she was dealing with a lot of confusion and anger about her parents, but she was rude to everyone and got caught up in a bunch of lies. By the end of the trip, though, Nori had figured some things out and was more prepared to deal with her parents and life in general. Like Heart and Salsa, I found the descriptions of the surroundings to be one of the most appealing elements of the book. A light read for those who love travel.
And this was my last book for the 48 Hour Book Challenge! In mere moments, I'll post a wrap-up with final tallies.