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on February 9, 2008
Midori Saito's dream of becoming an American is about to come true. She arrives in San Francisco on a fiancee visa and then--whamo!--Kevin dumps her. Now, she has no boyfriend, no job, and isn't legally allowed to stay in the country. What's a wanna-be-pastry chef to do?

After baking on it, Midori rents a room from a hot guy, lands an under-the-table job as a bar hostess to pay the bills, and ends up brushing arms with the Japanese mafia--all the while hiding from her parents that the wedding is off!

Wendy Nelson Tokunaga gives us a glimpse of Japanese culture in a wonderful novel that is both witty and touching. If you're looking for a fun chick lit, I recommend picking up a copy of MIDORI BY MOONLIGHT.
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on October 22, 2008
I have to say, this is the kind of book that I rarely pick up because it looks like a light chick lit book. (Nothing wrong with that! Just not my usual thing.) I am an online book club member where, through our local library, I sample first chapters of books. I started reading Midori by Moonlight online, and since my library didn't have a copy, I bought this book. I was hooked from the beginning and didn't want it to end.

The characters are very well developed, and I was fascinated by the pastry albums that Midori keeps, information about San Francisco and the Japanese community there, and other cultural tidbits. I like the ending of the book, and I would LOVE to see a sequel or find more books of this type. It is light reading, but these characters are real and will pull you in.
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This shows that what we want does not neccessary good for us. I enjoyed how she didn't give up.
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on November 14, 2009
Midori by Moonlight is a sweet confection of a novel. Midori's hilarious, yet hearfelt adventures will have you turning the pages from page 1, 'til you've eaten -- er, I mean read -- the whole thing in one sitting!
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on April 20, 2014
I like this book. It's not literature. But this is a lovely, charming book, a fast read. Basically Midori is engaged to Kevin Newberry, and she comes to the United States with him. At the engagement party, she meets Shinji "Sean," who is very kind to her. Kevin dumps her for his old girlfriend, Kimberly, who refers to her as the Japanese girl. Kevin is a scoundrel, leaves her, so Midori finds a job as a hostess of sorts at Miki's Lounge, where she flatters and sings with patrons. They all have fake names. There she meets Amber, who turns out to be a wanted fugitive. Kevin comes in once, but does not recognize Midori because she is in disguise; she even calls up Kimberly to rat out Kevin's Asian fetish. Shinji has a girlfriend, Tracy, who is wild about Japan i.e. who has a Japanese fetish. Tracy suggests to Midori that she marry Damien to stay in the country. Midori cooks, loves to make cakes. Midori meets Graham doing laundry, goes to his restaurant, The Lupine, enjoys bass, fantasizes about him but he is gay. Midori learns English from a soap opera. At the end, Tracy stays in Japan, Shinji and Midori get together and go to Kevin's wedding. An okay book, somewhat formulaic, but the book doesn't pretend to be anything different. An enjoyable reprieve. Surprised actually. Given ALL the attributes.
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on January 25, 2008
Chick lit has traditionally (if you can say that about a genre less than 20 years old!) portrayed a white woman living in New York/London fumbling through her love life while working in the publishing/fashion industry. Wendy Tokunaga's novel, Midori by Moonlight bursts forth as a leader and shining example of an emerging subgenre, multicultural chick lit. A modern tale with a hint of green tea and wasabi, this novel carries readers on a fast-paced journey they won't want to end.

Midori is a Japanese woman brought to the United States by her American fiancé who promptly dumps her for an old flame less than a week after her arrival. What Midori lacks in English language skill, she more than makes up in gumption and a quirkiness that draws people to her. Having never felt as if she really fit into traditional Japanese culture, she sets out to make a life for herself in the US while the clock ticks away on her fiancée visa.

What makes this novel really stand out is the attention to detail that enlivens the characters and brings to light idiosyncrasies of both American and Japanese cultures. Readers familiar with contemporary Japan will smile at references such as the "Engrish" business name "Let's English" and describing unmarried Japanese women as Christmas cakes. Even Midori's fascination with beautiful baked sweets highlights a subtle Japanese trait. Midori maintains many Japanese characteristics, photographing and documenting desserts in a journal for example, while expressing parts of herself that feel much more American - her independent spirit and willingness to do whatever it takes to earn a living. Side characters such as Damian and Tracy portray the many American fascinations with and distortions of Japanese culture. While glimpses are seen through the character Akina, additional description of modern Japanese women living in Japan would have created a stronger foil for Midori's independent spirit, further revealing how she truly is caught between two cultures.

More than just a story about Japanese and American cultures, Midori by Moonlight is a story of expressing your true self to find your own path in the world. Tokunaga creates an endearing character in Midori that readers will root for, laugh with and love to befriend over cup of green tea and a decadent slice of cake.

Armchair Interviews says: Interesting characters make this book special.
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VINE VOICEon October 10, 2007
Midori Saito is an innocent yet powerful heroine. Tokunaga presents her new-to-America, just-hilted protagonist as a woman who never quite fit in in her native Japan, and leapt at the chance to go with the gaijin of her dreams to San Francisco. Once there, however, she winds up living in an apartment with her ex-fiance's friend, Shinji, lusting after a gay chef, and working as a bar hostess. She avidly follows the soap opera Farrington Falls, only sometimes realizing that there are aspects of her life that could be described as soap operatic (not necessarily through her own doing, but for a relatively simple woman, she winds up in some unusual situations).

Midori's most charming trait is her relentless efforts to learn English and constant questioning of idiomatic phrases. Her use of them shows that she truly wants to fit in, and slowly, she does. There's a slightly outlandish story line about Japanese criminals that didn't totally ring true for me, but that's okay, because Midori is sweet but not gullible. She shows signs of fierceness, even though she doesn't always live up to them, and the tension between her traditional family, eager to marry her off, and her desire to make a real life for herself, on her own terms, exploring who she is and her new city, is powerful.

One of the ways Midori distinguishes herself is with her sweet tooth. She treats the desserts she buys and lovingly savors with the utmost of attention, capturing each one in her pastry album, and concocting her own creations. "Why would anyone wnat to sniff cocaine when there's marzipan in the world?" she wonders at one point, and her attention to detail, from making special cakes for Shinji's girlfriend, to making sure each one is perfect, is delightful to read about. Her desserts represent her independence; she is not making them out of obligation to a husband, but because she simply loves the act, and thankfully she manages to make money from her tasty snacks.

This is a wonderful first novel, and even though it's about culture clash and immigration to a large extent, the wonder Midori feels when she first arrives in San Francisco is akin to the wonder we all feel upon moving to a new city. Seeing Midori succeed, contrasted with her best friend stuck back in Japan at a job she hates or what happens with some of her fellow bar hostesses, makes this a happy ending you'll savor as much as the sweetest dessert.
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VINE VOICEon January 25, 2009
I've heard a lot that chick lit is "finished" - the storylines are the same, the characters are non-descript, and no one really has any interest in it anymore. Whether Midori by Moonlight is an exception to that rule or proof that it's patently untrue, I'm not sure; but I can definitely say that this slim chick lit novel is the most fun I've had in recent memory while reading a book.

Midori is a feisty heroine whom the reader can't help but root for. She struggles with her English - while her knowledge of the language is passable, it's the idioms she has trouble with. Her misuse of colloquial phrases is an endless source of amusement in the novel. Midori is also determined and a very strong character, though she doesn't realize it. It takes courage to leave everything you know behind and forge a new life in a foreign country, and even more courage to stay there when all the circumstance change. Everything and everyone is telling Midori to return to Japan, but she refuses; her strength shines through.

I also loved the multicultural aspects of this novel. It was interesting to learn more about Japanese culture, especially with regard to how they look at young women. It seemed to be similar to Indian culture in that respect. While I think culture is important, I admired Midori for standing up to convention and forging her own path.

I loved Midori by Moonlight. Midori isn't your usual heroine; she's unsure of herself and lives in the moment. She doesn't think she's brave or courageous. She just knows she can't return to Japan and has to make her American experience work. If you pick up this novel, plan on devouring it in one sitting. It's a great book that I can't recommend highly enough, even for those who don't usually enjoy chick lit.
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on January 23, 2008
Midori isn't having the best year. To escape her parents and the potential marriage prospects they throw at her, she agrees to marry an American and move to San Francisco. The night after the couple's engagement party, Kevin breaks off the engagement and Midori moves into a hotel.

Alone in a foreign country, she knows that nothing's waiting for her back home, so she decides to stay. She calls up the one man she met at the party and asks for advice.

Soon, she's sharing an apartment, baking goodies, and looking for a way to obtain a green card.

MIDORI BY MOONLIGHT shows the struggle of one woman to make it in a world completely foreign to her and finding herself fitting in more than ever. A fun read!

Reviewed by: Jennifer Rummel
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on December 7, 2007
I have a soft spot for chick lit but most of the books are so samey and predictable that I wind up not reading much of it. I spotted "Midori by Moonlight" on the new books table at a local store, and because of my interest in Japanese culture and the hometown (San Francisco) setting, I couldn't resist picking it up. I'm glad I did -- I read the entire thing in one sitting because I couldn't put it down! It's light but explores some serious themes, too, such as the importance of conformity in Japanese culture. If you live in SF, the perfect place to read the book would be while enjoying a delicate dessert at Miette in the Ferry Building, one of the inspirations for the pastry shops Midori loves so much. This book is guaranteed to make you smile and brighten your day!
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