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Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel

Review

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel

Just when you think that there's nothing new to say about a topic, someone comes along with a vital new perspective that shows you just how wrong you were. That's certainly the case with Sara Farizan, whose new novel TELL ME AGAIN HOW A CRUSH SHOULD FEEL offers a new take on the coming-out novel, one that includes intersections with issues of class and culture as well as sexuality.

Leila is well-liked enough at her private school outside Boston. She's never going to ace science or make the varsity soccer team, but she has some good friends and a loving family. And so far she's managed to stay under the radar romantically, even though she secretly knows she's attracted to other girls. Her one romantic relationship happened in an off-campus summer program, so she's never had to deal with the potential awkwardness of having a crush on someone at school.

TELL ME AGAIN HOW A CRUSH SHOULD FEEL is a lighthearted but ultimately thoughtful novel about growing up and coming out, a surprising new take on the genre that offers a much-needed new perspective.

There are other gay and (more or less) happily out kids at Armstead Academy, but none of them have the same challenges Leila would face at home. Even though Leila's family lives in liberal Massachusetts, they are far from liberal themselves. As an Iranian American, she has a family with very traditional values; one of her family friends essentially disowned their son when they discovered he was gay.

But when a beautiful new girl arrives at Armstead and seems more than a little interested in Leila, all bets are off. Suddenly, she's risking her current friendships and her family finding out in order to pursue something with Saskia. As she navigates this new territory, she finds herself interacting with her classmates in new ways, too --- and discovering that more than one of them are not exactly what they seem. Even Saskia's seemingly perfect older sister has a few secrets of her own. Armed with this new perspective and some hard-won confidence, can Leila find the courage to be true to herself --- and the girl she's crushing on?

Farizan's second novel is a well-realized portrait of high school life with a flawed and vulnerable but incredibly likeable main character.Farizan convincingly portrays her protagonist's evolution, and she also populates Leila's story with a rich and well-developed cast of secondary characters, all of whom have their own stories to tell. The only real weak point is the characterization of Saskia, whose motivations remain somewhat unclear even by the novel's end. That said, TELL ME AGAIN HOW A CRUSH SHOULD FEEL is a lighthearted but ultimately thoughtful novel about growing up and coming out, a surprising new take on the genre that offers a much-needed new perspective.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on October 15, 2014

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel
by Sara Farizan

  • Publication Date: October 7, 2014
  • Genres: Youth Fiction
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 161620284X
  • ISBN-13: 9781616205492