By Jennifer Rogers Spinola
Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc.
Ride the rollercoaster of Shiloh Jacobs’s life as her dreams derail, sending her on a downward spiral from the heights of an AP job in Tokyo to penniless in rural Virginia. Trapped in a world so foreign to her sensibilities and surrounded by a quirky group of friends, will she break through her hardened prejudices before she loses those who want to help her? Can she find the key to what changed her estranged mother’s life so powerfully before her death that she became a different woman—and can it help Shiloh too?
Southern Fried Sushi is an intriguing combination of Tokyo, with its fast-paced lifestyle and elbow-to-elbow high rises, and the calm and peaceful lifestyle of America’s south. Shiloh’s life is an odd mixture of both, although she’s most comfortable amidst the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. Or so she thinks, until a family tragedy sends her to a quaint town in Virginia. The fried food, collard greens, and mushy bread aren’t quite what she expected, but the people she meets along the way add palatability to her trip. Even draw her. This unexpected trip challenges her to see things and people differently, including her deceased, estranged mother.
I enjoyed Jennifer’s spunky writing and I found the dual settings unique. It was also fun to learn about Japanese culture, especially from one of their younger members. However, at times I felt this was overdone and forced. Personally, I found all the foreign words, which were often followed by definitions, distracting, but I imagine those intrigued by other cultures will enjoy this aspect of the novel. My interest wasn’t piqued until about forty pages in as much of the beginning presented conversations over various foods and other details that didn’t seem to contribute to the story. There were intriguing conflicts sprinkled in the early chapters, like Shiloh’s boyfriend troubles and a nearly missed deadline. However, I felt the long discourse offered in between detracted from the story. Once we got to Virginia, I caught a glimpse of Shiloh’s true struggles and began to empathize with her.
Those who enjoy lighter fiction that centers on unique locations will love Southern Fried Sushi.
Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery