Tessa Miyata has never really fit in anywhere. Add in the fact that she sees things that no one else does and it’s a recipe for no friends and lots of bullies. But when she finds out she will be spending the summer in Japan with her grandparents and sisters, Tessa has high hopes that she’ll be having exciting adventures to post about on social media that will make the kids back home stop teasing her. Unfortunately, the only adventure she’s allowed to go on is to senior aerobics class with her grandpa and the neighbor boy, Jin Uehara. The forced hangout takes a turn when a precious family heirloom is destroyed, unleashing the malicious samurai god Taira Masakado and pulling Jin and Tessa into a hidden part of the city that houses gods and other spirits. The pair must now work together alongside a mythical nine-tailed fox in order to stop Taira before he destroys their world.

What a fun story this was! Tessa’s struggle with finding her place in the world is deeply relatable, especially for the intended audience of this middle grade novel. Through her journey, she struggles with feeling like she is enough, like she is a burden to her family, and the lessons she learns along the way will help guide younger readers as they navigate similar feelings while also resonating with older readers and reminding them of what is important in life.

The story finds a good balance between action-packed fight sequences and slower moments like senior aerobics class. The Japanese mythology and culture that is sprinkled throughout the story made me want to pull out some research books and learn more about them both. The nuanced characters are a welcome reminder that people have depth and may not always be as they present themselves on the outside. What I think I loved the most was the relationship that Tessa shared with her sisters as well as the relationship that formed between Jin, Tessa, and their mythical new companion Kit.

This is just the first book in a new series and I am excited to see what comes next for Tessa and Jin. While the story wraps up nicely, it still leaves it open ended for the next book so I don’t feel like I am losing my mind over a terrible cliffhanger.

TESSA MIYATA IS NO HERO by Julie Abe is available now and you can pick up a copy for yourself here.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will also be supporting indie bookstores like my local fave Linden Tree Books without whom this review would not be possible! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2023 Book Recommendations."