Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan
Published: October 7th, 2014
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
304 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult/LGBT
Acquired this book: From the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
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’ll admit, I went into this book with fairly high expectations. I’ve read quite a few LGBT books this year, and they’ve been all over the place - some great, some good, some just okay. I keep waiting for that one that will feel like the definitive LGBT book, the one I recommend to everyone because it’s so amazing…but Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel, unfortunately, wasn’t it.
This book is quite simple in most ways - the writing, the characters, the plot. I contemplated DNFing this book for at least the first half because nothing was really happening, and I wasn’t connecting to the characters. I never did fully connect to the characters, but I’m glad I kept reading. There wasn’t much plot-wise and the characters didn’t have much depth, but the story was mostly entertaining.
Leila was really naïve and seemed very young. Her inner dialogue, her observations, her outlook on the world, and the things she said and did made me feel like I was reading about a tween at times instead of someone in her mid-teens. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike her. I thought her confusion, insecurities, and fears rang mostly true. Coming out is never easy, but when your parents are from a country where it’s illegal to be gay, I can’t imagine how hard it must be to deal with those feelings and the worry of what will happen when you come out.
One thing I loved about this book was the diversity. I enjoyed learning about Leila’s family, their customs, etc., and I liked that she wasn’t the only diverse character in the book. It still amazes me how little diversity there is in YA these days, so I really appreciated that there was a rainbow of characters in this book, from different ethnicities to religions to sexual orientation.
My favourite parts of this book were the interactions between Leila and her family. I wanted to throttle her sister at first, but she ended up having much more depth than expected. The scenes with her parents were alternately amusing, frustrating, embarrassing, and touching.
Overall, Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel was pretty middle of the road for me. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. I think it’s worth checking out, especially if you’re looking for LGBT YA with lots of diversity, humour, and romance. It’s an easy, light read.
Have you read Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel? What did you think? If you haven't read it, does it sound like something you'd be interested in?