by Sara Farizan
Published by Algonquin Young Readers
on October 7, 2014
Genres: GLBTI, Romance, Young Adult
Why would I ever care about frictionless acceleration anyway?
How is that ever going to get me a girlfriend?
Not that I dare think about that. I’m not ready to announce my lady-loving inclinations as yet. I can hear the whispering, knowing that what they are snickering about could easily be me. I’m already different enough at this school. I don’t need to add anything else to that.
Persian-American Leila is having a year of hidden crushes. Barely has she managed to control her sappy crush for her teacher than the gloriously sophisticated new girl, Saskia, comes onto the scene at school. But is Saskia as wonderful as she seems? Leila struggles to hide her secret from her traditional family and her schoolmates, but as the book progresses, she finds that there may be understanding, support, and empathy from the people she had thought were the most unlikely sources.
The overblown language Farizan uses to describe the intensity and drama of mid-teen crushes is simultaneously hilarious yet strangely authentic:
The more she talks, the more I feel like the cartoon character Goofy, as in “Gawrsh, she’s purrrty!” All that’s missing are the tweeting birds flying around my head. […]
Saskia links arms with me as we walk, and I imagine this is how Dorothy coaxed the Cowardly Lion into going to Oz. Saskia smells of enchanted fruits that God hasn’t created yet.
I lean in to kiss her this time and she moans. I nearly die.
“No,” I answer at last. That isn’t exactly true, because nothing can really compete with the feeling of a first kiss .
. . but I’m pretty sure an entire garden of Georgia O’Keeffe flowers has bloomed to life in my chest.
I love that this book acknowledges and explores some of the complex realities of being a lesbian/questioning teenager from an immigrant family, while remaining accessible to a quite young audience. My eleven-year-old son loved the scene where Leila has an hideously embarrassing school play audition, and I loved that this is just the most a-freaking-dorable young adult romance I’ve read in a long time. The school theatre tech folks are all individual and interesting, and I could easily see a series of companion books exploring their lives and loves.
Through the course of the book, Leila’s family and friends aren’t the only ones who have to confront their own prejudices – Leila herself has a little growing to do. The humour, gentle busting of stereotypes, and likeable, diverse cast of characters make this a book for me. Loved it.