Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel

by Sara Farizan

Leila is an Iranian American high school student at an upscale private school who’s... read more

Leila is an Iranian American high school student at an upscale private school who’s afraid to come out. Then she gets a crush on new student Saskia. Glamorous and beautiful and unafraid of expressing her feelings, Saskia leaves Leila feeling floaty even before they finally kiss. Leila’s over the moon and everyone at school knows it. She comes crashing down, hard, after Saskia blithely confirms that she slept with Leila’s friend Greg after kissing Leila, but there’s still a disconnect between what Leila’s head knows and what her heart and body feel. One of the intriguing aspects of Sara Farizan’s novel is that Saskia’s emotional game-playing is evident to readers long before it is to Leila. As things with Saskia intensify and then fall apart, and Saskia becomes not just manipulative but emotionally abusive, Leila finds herself confiding in her old friend Lisa, from whom she’s grown apart in recent years. Lisa, in turn, eventually confides in Leila: She likes her, and has for years. As this far more healthy relationship begins to develop, Leila finally comes out at home, where she finds an unexpected ally in — and a new perspective on — her perfect older sister while her parents, although clearly struggling with the news, make clear they love her. Leila’s relationship with Lisa is striking in contrast to what she had with Saskia for the respect and tenderness between them in a novel that deftly and deeply explores many kinds of relationships and has a finely developed cast of secondary characters. (Age 13 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2015

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