The summer before she turned sixteen, Christine Inzer traveled solo to Tokyo to get reacquainted with her birthplace. Through charming illustrations, photos, and musings, Christine takes us on a journey through modern Japan: she explores the fashion hub of Harajuku; she hunts down geisha in Kyoto; she eats the best sushi of her life in Tsukiji; and she meets many interesting characters along the way. Halfway Home is an engaging—and often hilarious—look at a fascinating country and a girl rediscovering her roots.
Inzer, a high school senior, channels the work of Lucy Knisley and Raina Telgemeier in her journal-like travelogue comic. In 2013, she traveled alone to Japan, her birthplace, to stay with her grandparents outside Tokyo. Accompanied by occasional photos from her travels, Inzer’s gestural b&w cartoons trace her simultaneous excitement and nervousness over exploring Tokyo’s Harajuku neighborhood by herself, moments of cultural confusion (such as the trials of mastering Japanese toilets), and failed attempts to get boys to notice her (“Why don’t you ever look up from your phones?” she moans on a page titled “The Problem with Japanese Boys”). The mostly single-page anecdotes are often amusing, and Inzer isn’t afraid to play with form (while feeding deer in Nara, outside Kyoto, hungry animals descend on her from outside the frame of the final panel on the page). While readers may not feel like they have fully witnessed the growth that Inzer claims at book’s end, her skills of observation and talent for visual humor bode well for future efforts. Ages 12–up. (BookLife)