Her family’s unofficial motto is Katsuyamas Never Quit, but that hasn’t held true for 17-year-old CJ, who knows she’s never going to be as high-powered as her ambitious single mom. CJ prefers helping her Aunt Hannah at their family floral shop, Heart’s Desire.
Heart’s Desire is a point of family pride. CJ’s grandfather spent 30 years saving enough money to buy back the shop at an astronomical markup. When the Katsuyamas and thousands of other Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during World War II, her grandfather was forced to sell all of his property to an investor named McAllister for a fraction of its true value. But now, with Heart’s Desire struggling, CJ’s mom is threatening to sell it right back to a McAllister who currently serves as the head of the venture capital firm where she is a partner.
This outrage stokes CJ’s activist spirit, especially when she learns that the Heart’s Desire scandal is only one of many examples of the McAllister family profiting off the losses of Japanese Americans.
Misa Sugiura’s This Time Will Be Different shows CJ wrestling with her growing awareness of racism and the injustices of history while also grappling with more typical teenage concerns like an unattainable crush or a changing relationship with her best friend. With the help of a history-loving boy, CJ starts to realize that although we might never be able to fix past mistakes—both globally and personally—we can learn from them, tell their stories and try our best to avoid making them again.