This charming and bittersweet coming-of-age story featuring two girls of color falling in love is part To All the Boys I've Loved Before and part Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.
Sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don't invite her to parties. Some are big, like the fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there's the one that she can barely even admit to herself - the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend.
When Sana and her family move to California, she begins to wonder if it's finally time for some honesty, especially after she meets Jamie Ramirez. Jamie is beautiful and smart and unlike anyone Sana's ever known. There are just a few problems: Sana's new friends don't trust Jamie's crowd; Jamie's friends clearly don't want her around anyway; and a sweet guy named Caleb seems to have more-than-friendly feelings for her. Meanwhile, her dad's affair is becoming too obvious to ignore.
Sana always figured that the hardest thing would be to tell people that she wants to date a girl, but as she quickly learns, telling the truth is easy...what comes after it, though, is a whole lot more complicated.
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YA contemporary that focused on an important topic
Wooooo....wow this book was a lot to unpack. Lots of conversations that need to be had but have never been approached like this before. I think a lot of books about prejudice and ignorance tend to focus on a very black and white lens but this one centered on prejudice in Mexican and Asian communities, which is very unique to California being that both racial groups are the largest minorities. I think the pros of this story was that it made me feel something, and it wasn't always cotton candy and comfort.
What scared me the most about this story is that it reflected my own childhood and teenage years. Sana, the main character's mother, i'm ashamed to admit that she's actually like my grandmother. She's ignorant. She says hateful things about pretty much every ethnic group she doesn't fall under and she doesn't think of anything she says as wrong. She's scared of what she considers different, and unfortunately I found myself relating to Sana for not doing the right thing and challenging her on her ignorance. It's hard to challenge people you love and raised you and make them see your point when they in their heads, feel as though they've never been wrong. I constantly ask myself, why don't people call their families out on their racist thoughts? And then I think back to every situation that's happened and has yet to happen, where I don't correct my family members for saying hurtful things. Sometimes it's just not worth it and you always feel as though you're never going to change their minds.
While I didn't think Sana was a traditionally likable heroine, I did however relate to her. I think what would have made this book a five is if it would have centered more on the f/f relationship and not so much the drama her parents were going through. It was so distracting and all I wanted was a love story. I also needed Sana to own up to her privilege and admit that all the hurtful things she said about Latinos were wrong and that she needed to learn more about things she wasn't knowledgeable enough about before she spoke. Overall, we need more ff books with no white gaze and this was a step forward in that direction.