The Tokyo Bicycle Bakery

The Tokyo Bicycle Bakery: A sweet, sorrowful and surreal love story

by Su Young Lee
Setting: Japan, (with Cuba, U.S., Argentina)
Genres: Fiction
Published on August 20, 2020
Pages: 238
Format: eBook Source: Book Tour

For cake-loving college girl Hana, Japan was the romantic destination of her dreams. With boyfriend Jin she planned an exciting new life in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. But when she finally arrives after months of planning, Jin isn't there.
Hana is left broken-hearted on a rainy Tokyo street. Jin left no note. One day he just walked out of classes and disappeared.
Hana begins her new life alone. Searching for Jin but finding no trace. Watching cherry blossoms fall into the Tokyo river. Working hard and delivering her lovely home-baked cakes by orange bicycle. Then she meets handsome young farmer Hikaru, and glimpses a new way forward - in an alien place where she doesn't know a soul.
The Tokyo Bicycle Bakery is a sweet and sorrowful love story with a dash of magic realism, a sprinkle of mystery and whole lot of cakes.

Hana is a college student in South Korea. Her boyfriend Jin moved to Japan to continue his studies. She planned to go visit him on break but she hasn’t heard from him lately. She goes to Japan as planned but can’t find Jin anywhere. She hears a vague rumor that he has taken off and gone to South America for some reason. So she decides to find a place to stay and wait for him to come back.

At this point, I was like, “Girl, no.” I was not into reading a whole book about a delusional woman who was not getting the hint after her boyfriend changed countries not once but twice to get away from her. Honestly, if I had been reading this on my own and not for a book tour I would have probably DNFed it at this point. I don’t tolerate pathetic female characters well.

But, I had to keep reading and I’m glad I did. It turns out that there are more reasons than waiting for an unreliable man for Hana to decide to stay in Japan. She joins a Japanese language school and starts picking up small part-time jobs to make ends meet. In her free time she likes to bake and share her creations with the people she’s met.

About halfway through the book we get to find out what happened to Jin. No matter what you think happened to him, you’re wrong. This is where the magical realism of the story appears. Just roll with it.

Meanwhile, back in Japan, Hana is working at a vegetable shop, making friends with alley cats (TW for one cat’s death), and running a marathon. She’s making friends as she goes and establishing herself as part of the neighborhood. She also meets the son of the farmer that supplies the vegetable shop. He’s into organic farming and is an amazing cook. Jin who? It is a bit refreshing to see a female character given the chance to move on from a broken romantic relationship in a realistic way. She grieves but she gets over it after a while.

More than anything else everyone in this book loves food. Every chapter is named for a food that features in it. There aren’t recipes but everything anyone makes is described lovingly. They talk about the wonderfulness of a tomato or strawberry or apple. She tastes ingredients and dreams up baked goods that would show them off best. This book could make you hungry.

This is a gentle story about making a community around you regardless of your circumstances.

Book tour through Rachel’s Random Resources.