To Be Published by Algonquin Young Readers on Oct 7 2014
Genres: LGBT, Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 4/5 stars
High-school junior Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. Her Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when a sophisticated, beautiful new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual. Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia's confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This is one of the most enjoyable F/F romances I’ve read this year (and I’ve read quite a few). To tell you exactly how enjoyable it is, I shall paint you a little word-picture. Me, sitting on a rather uncomfortably stiff forest green couch in my mother’s living room. It is growing late, but I’m not in any hurry to go to bed. Instead, my eyes scan across the pages of the PDF document over and over again, for hours on end. The muted television does not even catch my gaze, I’m so enthralled by this adorable little book on my laptop screen. My laptop is hot on my legs, but I need to reach the end of the book. I can’t go to sleep until it’s done. Just a little bit longer…
I read this entire book in one rather lengthy sitting. I couldn’t open the document on my e-reader, which forced me to read it on my computer screen. Let me tell you, most of the time that is reason enough for me not to read a book, but once I got started with Farizan’s sophomore novel, I just couldn’t stop.
I’ll admit that it’s not a particularly original story – girl meets girl, girl has giant crush on girl, girl gets heart broken by other girl, etc. But I really liked the way that Farizan took a somewhat cliché story and put her own spin on it – partially through Leila’s Persian heritage and her somewhat difficult family, and through one of the cutest love interests ever.
It’s pretty obvious from the beginning that Saskia, as glamorous and incredible as Leila thinks she is, is bad news. She’s not a nice girl, and I wish that there had been more character development and background for what made Saskia the way she was. I was curious as to why she treated those around her like pawns, like she was the only real person and everyone else was collateral damage in the game of Saskia’s life. Part of the explanation for this limited look into Saskia’s life can be put on Laila’s narration, as she is without question a very self-involved teenager with a limited ability to put herself in others’ shoes. I really can’t blame her for it – she’s a sixteen year old girl. It’s normal for her to be self-involved. Aren’t most people at that age?
I think that Farizan’s writing style may not be for everyone, as her narrator came off as a bit young and immature and the writing was sometimes a bit simplistic, but I loved the jokes Laila told herself in her head. On page three is this gem: “Why would I ever care about frictionless acceleration anyway? How is that ever going to get me a girlfriend?” I make those kinds of jokes on a pretty much daily basis. I really related to Laila, though I’m much older and less insecure (now, at least. I was SO insecure as a teenager!).
I think what I liked most about this book was the fact that it was so fluffy. So often books about queer teenagers are so depressing, and it was nice to find a book with such an unequivocally happy ending. As Gwendoline Nelson (@writing_kills) said on Twitter, “Lots of good LGBT YA out there, but it’s pretty dark. If I want to read something light and fun, I have to read about straight people.” Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel was a lovely, much appreciated change of pace, and I’m very grateful for it. I was smiling so hard through the last three or four chapters that my cheeks started to hurt. It was a cute, sweet book and I’m definitely ready to read Farizan’s first book, If You Could Be Mine (which has been on my TBR since long before it was released over a year ago).