BOOK REVIEW: Love & Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura

The protagonist of Misa Sugiura's new novel, Love & Other Natural Disasters,is searching for the perfect summer romance — and, if you're searching for the perfect summer read, this is the book for you.

Released early last month (June 2021), Love and Other Natural Disasters follows the story of Nozomi Nagai as she visits her uncles in San Francisco for the summer. Nozomi has an idealized view about life and love, which is what drives her at the start of the novel. Her first night there, she runs into Willow and is instantly enamored. When their paths cross again, Nozomi is sure it’s meant to be. She quickly proposes a fake romance. Willow agrees because she wants to make her ex-girlfriend Arden jealous, and Nozomi is more than happy because she hopes this fake relationship might become something real. But, when the girls find out that Arden has a new girlfriend Dela, one of Nozomi’s co-workers who isn’t overly fond of her, things get much more complicated. Lingering and blossoming feelings between these four characters create interesting dynamics that take the novel beyond the cliches of a typical fake dating story. 

But, Love & Other Natural Disasters isn’t just about romantic love; it’s about familial love, too. Throughout her trip in San Francisco, Nozomi spends time with her brother and uncles, who all know she’s queer, and her grandma, who doesn’t know she’s queer. Nozomi has to struggle with whether or not to tell her grandmother. She is also processing her parents’ recent divorce. All of these things help Nozomi gain a more grounded and realistic view on love, helping her to better understand its role in different areas of her life.Image source

There are plenty of characters, different dynamics, and a variety of plotlines that interconnect to varying degrees, but what I love about this novel is that it can sometimes feel a bit busy. To me, this made the story, and the characters, feel all the more real. While I did also find parts of the novel predictable, I don’t think that made the story any less captivating. I still found myself reading through and wanting to see the characters have their happy endings, whether or not they ended up together. In truth, the novel did feel somewhat unresolved, but all in all it’s a fun read, with great representation. 

Romanticizing, pining, jealousy, and conflict. As the title suggests, love can be disastrous, and, while the events of the novel certainly show that can be the case, the overall message of the book is hopeful. Through Love & Other Natural Disasters, Sugiura provides an interesting twist on YA cliches, not only playing with its tropes, but paving the way for a more inclusive genre as well.

Staff Writer

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