ARC Review: Himawari House by Harmony Becker | Teen Ink

ARC Review: Himawari House by Harmony Becker

August 11, 2021
By Bella_Queen DIAMOND, Plymouth, Ohio
Bella_Queen DIAMOND, Plymouth, Ohio
81 articles 25 photos 79 comments

Favorite Quote:
Keep your face always toward the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you.
-Walt Whitman

When I received Himawari House by Harmony Becker as an ARC, I was a little skeptical. I had never really read a graphic novel, or anything that was realistic fiction. But, I kept an open mind and ended up absolutely adoring it! Himawari House was a dose of friendship that struck my heart true and made me grin and laugh at all the right times! I think this is probably one of the best novels I have read this year!

To begin, I want to say that this novel has a lot of awesome characters; like Hyejung, who is just as salty as miso, Masaki, who is my shy cinnamon roll, and Nao, who can be clueless, yet very deep. And it had a touching storyline focusing mainly on coming home, finding family in friends, and reuniting with the ones you love. This story was so powerful and beautiful that I couldn’t put it down! In two days, I had it finished and was mourning the end. 

The storyline really caught me, and didn’t let go; it was all about Nao returning to her homeland, Japan, and connecting with her housemates in Himawari House. Though it also explores Hyejung’s and Tina’s past, we see mainly a lot about Nao, and her fears that she may be too Japanese in America, and to American in Japan. Through it all, we see Nao’s Japanese improve, which I thought was a really cool thing. She starts out hardly knowing any of her native tongue, but we see a lot of improvement as the story moves by. I think that little touch added more depth, and made the characters seem 3-Dimensional and realistic.

Another thing I really liked about this graphic novel was the Asian representation. Living in Himawari House were very colorful characters that came from all over; Korea, China, and, of course, Japan. Becker really captured the accents of these characters and how they would sound while speaking a language that is not their own. I loved Hyejung’s accent and thought it was really cool to include that, especially since the novel was graphic and it wasn’t very necessary. It was just a special Easter egg that tied the novel together.

And my favorite thing was the ever-present humor that helped pull you out of some of the character’s dark and sad pasts. When Masaki LOOMED, I was DEAD! It was so funny and fresh and so, so much fun! Becker has a knack with humor, and, as a funny person myself, I really appreciate the way her jokes are conveyed through art.

Now. Onto what I didn’t like; the ending. I loved how close the three main characters were; Tina, Hyejung, and Nao. They had an instantaneous connection that can only be described as fateful. But, in the end, Nao leaves Japan to return to America! I was extremely disappointed that she broke up the gang, especially when she had just started dating Masaki. Of course, I understand her position and realize that she couldn’t have stayed forever. Still. I wanted a happy ending, and didn’t get that! 

Besides my one grievance, Himawari House was very touching and uplifting, with humor that had me laughing out loud, and friendship that had me sobbing uncontrollably. This novel has definitely opened my eyes to how graphic novels can be, and I can’t wait to read more by this talented author!

The author's comments:

Warning: Contains spoilers for Himawari House!

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