Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel is one of those rare YA books that is delightfully high school. The story is told from the first person POV of Leila so all the other characters only develop as far as her relationship with them does. And there is some development for most of the characters. What makes it delightfully high school is the dramatic way that everything plays out.
Now, don’t misunderstand, this is a fun book with lots going for it as Leila comes to terms with her sexuality and identity and the way it could impact others but the plot is fantastic along the lines of Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen or Mean Girls. Leila is typical in that she doesn’t have the best experience figuring people out at that age and she blunders, a lot. She doesn’t know what to do about her best guy friend who wants to go out with her or her conservative parents or that the only girls she thinks are also lesbians are the tech girls that she thinks of as weird. She doesn’t know what to do when a gorgeous new girl takes an interest in her and sets off the plot either.
Leila’ s confusion is adorable and her utter inability to handle herself is even better. I know now about so many signals I missed as a teen that it is a lot of fun to read about someone else figuring it out a little faster and still managing to mess it up a bit. I wish I’d had her friends back then too. I kept landing in the wrong spot with the wrong people back then. Leila has a supporting set of family and friends and acquaintances that have their own agendas and problems, prompting different responses to knowing that she’s keeping secrets or ways to figuring her out.
The book includes some of the more popularised struggles of LGBT teens. Leila debates on whether or not she should come out, who it would effect, how it might effect them, whether or not she’ll be accepted by friends or family, and then all the typical first crush stuff that we all have. Whether or not its true to LGBT experiences isn’t something I’m versed enough in to judge though. Given that it is #ownvoices, though, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. I will say that there is a bit of a sexual assault/harassment problem within the book that isn’t explicitly addressed. For me, it’s more of a real world problem than a problem with the book though. While these behaviors are not acceptable and are not treated as acceptable, they are common to the high school experience and I don’t believe they are often handled appropriately. We, as a society, have a tendency to brush off unwanted kisses as a part of the chase and not the assault that it actually is.
In addition to struggling with LGBT issues, Leila deals with culture clashes as she is Persian by heritage but born and raised in the US. Farizan keeps the story on the LGBT issues but reminds the reader that people from different cultures within the US still have different expectations and they sometimes deal with things a little differently. That which is totally normal to some white American families in certain parts of the country can still be shocking and/or inappropriate to others. None of this overshadows the plot which primarily takes place among the high schoolers but stays with us as Leila’s family is as big (or bigger) a part of her life as school is.
I read a copy of Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel from Scribd, you can find it here on that website or add it to Goodreads here. This was my choice for Read Harder 2017’s task 20: Read a LGBTQ+ romance novel.