The book: Teenager CJ is surprised when she finds she loves working at her family’s flower shop after failing to find herself passionate about dozens of other activities her mother has pressed upon her. But, when she finds out the business is failing and her mom wants to sell it to the very people who defrauded her grandparents while they were imprisoned in internment camps, she is determined to fight for her newfound identity and family history.

This Time Will Be Different (HarperTeen) by Misa Sugiura ’91 is a contemporary coming-of-age tale of equal parts heart and humor that pins down the essence of growing up.

The author: Misa Sugiura ’91 is the Asian/Pacific American Award-winning author of It’s Not Like It’s A Secret. Her ancestors include a poet, a priestess, a samurai, and a stowaway. She grew up in Northfield, Ill., and lived in Japan for three years before moving to Silicon Valley and becoming a high school English teacher. Misa lives under a giant oak tree with her husband, two sons, two cats, and a gray-banded king snake.

Opening lines: Hannah calls it “a state of becoming,” but most people would probably call it chaos. The floor and work spaces are littered with leaves, stems, and thorns that haven’t made it into the giant waste bins by the tables. Flowers and greenery explode out of buckets on every flat surface that isn’t covered in piles of more greens and more flowers, all stripped of their lower leaves and thorns. The room is a riot of scarlet, green, ivory, and dusty pink.

In front of me sit twenty-five empty vases, their open mouths criss-crossed with grids of thin tape. When we’re finished, the empty grids will be transformed into a lush carpet of red and cream-colored roses and white and gold Chinese lilies, accented with clusters of pink pepper berries, eucalyptus leaves, and ivy — perfect for tomorrow’s mid-December wedding. Perfect for the beginning of somebody’s happily every after.

If you believe in that kind of thing.

Reviews: “Insightful. Intricate. Honest. This Time Will Be Different explores the powerful moments in our lives when personal and political histories collide. With richly drawn characters that feel utterly real, Misa Sugiura reminds us that the past is always present, but that we hold the power to shape our future, if we’re brave enough to face it.” — Samira Ahmed, New York Times bestselling author of Love, Hate & Other Filters