My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex: “Why Can’t We Move On?”

By Kyosuke Kamishiro and TakayaKi. Released in Japan as “Mamahaha no Tsurego ga Motokano datta” by Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Gierrlon Dunn.

This may come as a shocking surprise to regular readers of this blog, but I am no longer a teenager. This can sometimes be difficult when you are reviewing books whose primary audience is either teens or those who were just teens a year or two ago. Things that make total sense to you when you are the same age as the main character tend to make you scratch your head or yell at the main character later in life. Fortunately, I think this series is designed so that even those the same age as the characters will be yelling at them. Two awkward teens who break up due to poor communication skills are forced to realize that they’re perfect for each other, but are too stubborn to admit it. What that means in practice is that, under a veneer of caustic sniping and bitter inner monologues, this is one of those “cute kids flirt” romance titles.

Mizuto, a bookish young man, and Yume, a nerdy and shy girl, become a couple and start to date in middle school. Sadly, due to the aforementioned lack of good communication, they also break up about a year later. They managed to keep the relationship a secret from their parents… which might be a bad thing, as now his dad has married her mom, and they’re family! For the sake of the parents (who are barely in this book, to be honest), the two try to put on a public face of getting along, but when alone they’re sarcastic, bitter and constantly sniping at each other. He has a tendency to default to “jerk”. She’s a bit of a mess. Despite this, both of them still do have the characteristics that made them attractive to each other. He’s really caring and kind of hot when he bothers to try. She’s grown up to be gorgeous and is making a big effort to be more outgoing. Dammit… this is terrible!

I will note that I was super relieved when I saw the POV switch to Yume after the first chapter, because this is the sort of story that absolutely would not work if it was told from only one side. The chapters alternate between Mizuto’s grumpy loner guy and Yume’s freaking out internally girl, and it helps to make it more understandable why things went south, and also how easy it would be to fix if they weren’t both really stubborn. Which they are, this is like seven volumes in Japan and has just had an anime announced, so resolution is not forthcoming. There was a rather annoying plot point about 3/4 of the way into the book, where Yume’s new friend in high school is implied to be a dangerous stalker sort, and wants to marry Mizuto so she can be around Yume. I was fine with the plot when reading it as I assumed this was total bullshit that said friend cooked up as a plan to get our leads closer together… then it turned out to be true. Bleah.

That said, overall this was pretty cute. If you like cute teenage romance with a side order of bitching at each other, this is probably one you should pick up.

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