Much of the author's own culture and childhood come thru in Dixieland Sushi, as she, like the main character Jen, grew up in a bi-racial family of English and Japanese decent. Cara's pop-culture hero, Mr. Miyagi, is featured at the start of each chapter with his Karate Kid words of wisdom. Every other chapter is an 80's flashback which helps to introduce you more to Jen and her quirky ways. While some may think the references to 80's iconic culture is overdone - if you were a teenager in the 80's you will love the references, as most likely, you experienced each one - but might be hesitant to admit it :)
Cara writes of Jen Nakamura Taylor, whose cousin has announced she is marrying Kevin Peterson. This is the boy that Jen has secretly had a crush on since childhood. Realizing that she can't get out of not attending the wedding, Jen must find a date. So she persuades her best friend Nigel Riley to escort her back home to the south. As Jen works hard at surviving the meeting of past and present back home, she finally learns to come to terms with her heritage, her love life, and herself.
A definite must-read! Sure hope Lifetime TV has plans to make this novel into a movie as well.