Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, GLBT, YA
Source: Received in exchange for review
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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.
Different. Diverse. Amazing. Just three words I’d use to describe Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel, hereafter known as Tell Me Again because that title is way too long to type out every time. The basic concept of this book isn’t exactly unique: high school girl falls in love. Except that in this book, “high school girl” is of Persian descent and the person she falls in love with is also a girl. Two simple twists to an even simpler concept and you’ve got me drooling over this.
And thankfully, Tell Me Again doesn’t disappoint. It sends out so many good messages that I don’t even know where to start. The fact that the main character isn’t white? The way lesbian relationships are portrayed? The difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships? How to deal with pressure? The fact that going to a psychologist doesn’t mean you’re crazy? How deceiving appearances can be, and that it’s important to look further than someone’s appearance? All this comes to light in Tell Me Again, and I loved it. All of the messages are so healthy and I stand behind them so completely. And the best thing is that Tell Me Again isn’t preachy in any way. It’s just a story about this girl, Leila, who falls in love and starts finding herself and who she wants to be. And through all that, in a very subtle way, Farizan challenged the reader to think about all the things I listed above.
Tell Me Again grabbed my attention from the beginning and didn’t let go. I wasn’t planning on reading this, just scanning the first couple of pages, and suddenly I was completely immersed in the story and didn’t stop reading until I’d finished. It’s just all so there. Leila’s insecurity when it comes to her sexuality, wondering whether or not she should tell people, the slow but amazing relationship between Leila and the other girl, Leila’s family, the crushes, the very real problems everyone had, the disappointments… Everything. Farizan just handled everything so incredibly well.
One aspect of Tell Me Again that I loved was Leila’s family. Her parents, and Leila herself too (obviously), are Persian, and through Leila’s family we got little sneak peeks into the Persian culture. From the hospitality to the big weddings, it’s all there and I loved reading about it. The family dynamics were also absolutely on point. Leila’s father is a doctor, and he really wishes his two daughters will follow in his footsteps. Leila, unfortunately, isn’t into science at all, and has to deal with the pressure and expectations, especially because her sister is doing med school. The silent rivality between the sisters but also their unique bond was so well portrayed, and I loved how both learned about the other.
Of course, a big aspect of Tell Me Again is the main relationship happening. I don’t want to say too much about it because I don’t want to spoil anyone, but I loved it. It develops ever so slowly and is completely believable and also super sweet. I shipped it, guys. That’s really all you need to know.
However, Tell Me Again isn’t all about relationships and romance drama and all that jazz. It’s also about friends, appearances, digging deeper into people’s personalities. Over the course of the novel, Leila makes some new friends, and they’re absolutely delightful. I loved their different personalities, their “don’t care”-attitude, everything. From fake-vampire Christina to over-the-top Tomas, I loved them all. I wish I could be friends with this little group, because they’re awesome.
The more I write about Tell Me Again, the more I love it. It was just a really awesome book, guys. If you want to read a diverse book with not all-white, straight characters, or if you want to read a really sweet romance, or if you want to just read an amazing book, you should definitely pick up Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel.
~Thank you Algonquin Books for sending me a copy!~
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