High-school junior Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. Her Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when a sophisticated, beautiful new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual. Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia’s confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.– Goodreads
As a mood reader, who has been in a reading slump lately, I am thrilled that I was able to devour this book. Although Farizan wrote a previous book, this is my first book that I’ve read by her, but it will not be the last. I loved Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel. It is the story of Leila, a high school junior who is proud of the fact she does not have a single crush on anyone in her school. Of course, this is a relief to her because not only does her Persian heritage make her stand out from her WASP-y classmates, but if people found out she liked girls, life would become even harder for her and that isn’t something she wants to deal with. It’s understandable, being a teenager is hard enough and she already stands out. Does she want to stand out even more?
What she doesn’t expect is the beautiful new student Saskia to make her have hearts in her eyes which make her question everything. Saskia is not remotely perfect, but Leila doesn’t care. What Leila doesn’t expect is to struggle with Saskia and the feelings she has, particularly because Saskia is very back and forth with her feelings and this causes Leila to be even more confused. Particularly because no one knows that Leila likes girls, including her one family. Farizan wrote the scenes between Leila’s family and her so well that my heart constantly went out to Leila. I marked up multiple pages of the ARC because I enjoyed so many scenes with her mother who just wants Leila to talk to her and love her. Then there is her conservative old world father, who doesn’t always know what to do but always has a dad joke, and her older perfect sister who is everything her parents want from a child. Of course, throughout the book, Leila begins to see that she doesn’t have everything figured out, including her own family.
I found Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel to be realistic in the fact, while I have next to nothing in common with Leila, I related to multiple aspects of her life. High school, cliques, after school activities. While I didn’t have much in common with Leila on the outside, the themes that Farizan wrote are so universal that they are ultimately relateable. Love, heartbreak, friendship, family. Things that everyone wants, doesn’t matter on their age or background.