For a normal teenager, dealing with school, work and getting by the turmoil from your peers can be hard to deal with. For Tohru Honda, her high school life was much tougher. This story deals with hardships, romance, folklore, and a hint of magic; teaching young readers to always look at life with a “glass half full” mentality.
We’re thrust into a low point in Tohru’s life: living in the middle of the woods surviving typhoon season in Japan. She begins to narrate her life as if she’s telling her mother, who is only a picture due to her recent passing. Her Grandfather does take her in and she was hoping she could spend time with friends while he remodels, but with her only two friends either having a big family or a small apartment she doesn’t want to trouble them for months. It is through chance that she happens to be staying in a tent on the Sohma property, where the Prince of her school lives. After some awkward introductions and meetings after being caught by the residents she is asked to stay with them. Within a few days she finds out that they live with a curse: whenever they are hugged by the opposite sex outside of 13 men and women they transform into an animal from the legend of the Chinese zodiac.
As Tohru meets the members of the Sohma family, more secrets are revealed to her. Because of her outlook on life she begins to go through each zodiac member, enriching all of their lives and having them learn to not only accept their “curse”, but also learn to see it as apart of themselves that they need to cherish. The openness and honesty that Tohru brings to the Sohmas is similar to light banishing the darkness; like a Sun shining through the grey clouds hanging above their home.
There is a story in the series where she talks about a time in elementary school where they play the game “Fruits Basket”. One child is ‘it’ and the rest are given the name of a fruit. Unfortunately as a child told Tohru was an Onigiri, which is a rice based snack. One by one all of the other children were called to play in the game as Tohru was left on the sidelines, realizing that an onigiri doesn’t belong in a fruits basket. Though she is well aware of how she was tricked and it stuck with her through her life, she doesn’t become bitter. Instead she sees herself as something unique. Throughout life she realizes that her friends, while few and far between, are much more than just average fruit, they too are onigiri and just as special as she is.
Tohru Honda has to work to pay for school, study hard and deal with not only bullies but family members who treat her wrongly. Even though there is so much more hardship than the average teenager, Tohru greets every new day with a smile on her face and chooses to see the things she’s blessed with instead of what she’s missing, which I think is something more young people should learn to see.