Title: Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel
Author: Sara Farizan
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Genre: Cultural Fiction (Non South Asian), YA
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Leila seems like an ordinary Iranian American teenager. She attends school and generally keeps a low profile. But when Saskia, a beautiful new student, shows up at Leila’s school, Leila can’t hide her growing feelings. Leila hasn’t told anyone that she’s gay, and she’s afraid of what it might do to her parents and how others might perceive her if she admits the truth. As Leila explores her friendship with Saskia and considers the possibility of a relationship, she must figure out what is right for herself and who she wants to be.
A witty, self-deprecating novel with a delightful tone, Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel features a relatable main character in Leila and deals with many different issues in a thoughtful way.
When I’m looking for cultural fiction, but I don’t want a book that’s too heavy, I often look for YA novels. These books deal with similar serious themes and cultural issues as their literary adult counterparts, but often in a way that is less heavy and difficult. Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel took that a step further, maintaining a light and self-deprecating inner voice for Leila, even when her world is falling down around her.
Leila is a pretty amazing main character in Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel. She’s smart and funny, and she hasn’t quite figured out her place in the world. She’s torn between multiple identities: wanting to be a good Iranian daughter to her parents, and to make them happy, while also maintaining her status quo at school. If that’s not enough to deal with, she has to grapple with the knowledge that she’s gay and figure out how to incorporate that into her identity without alienating both her parents and the people at her school. It’s complicated to say the least, and Farizan writes it very well.
There are many aspects of Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel that are great, but Leila’s self-deprecating narration is what really makes the novel. This is not a polished young woman who has the world figured out, and she doesn’t pretend to be to the reader. She’s honest about her faults and the fact that she has no idea what she’s doing. It’s really hilarious to see how Leila pokes fun at herself—I was laughing out loud while reading!
Novels that take you back are always a lot of fun, and Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel really made me feel like I was a teenager again. Farizan does a great job with the tone and atmosphere of this book, and readers will root for Leila as she struggles to find her way. It’s a delightful, charming novel that I really recommend to all ages; whether you’re 15 or 50, you’ll find something to love in this book.