I’m melodramatic asf, so when I say that I’m disappointed, I don’t mean that the book was bad.
I just have… unrealistically high expectations, which is almost always my downfall when reading?
So, disclaimer for my entire post: three stars is not a bad rating (why do I feel like I say this every other day) and also, take all of my complaints with a grain of salt. I’m a very cynical person when reading, I think.
But anyways~ overall, this book was really cute. But there were a couple of things that just Did Not Work for me, and I still recommend this book to those who are interested in a contemporary with a fun filmography aspect!
Thank you so much to Feiwel & Friends for sending me a copy of this book!! Of course, my review is completely honest.
Also— some of the links (Indiebound & Book Depository) provided are affiliate links meaning that if you purchased from them I would get a small sum of money.
Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi
Sana Khan is a cheerleader and a straight A student. She’s the classic (somewhat obnoxious) overachiever determined to win.
Rachel Recht is a wannabe director who’s obsesssed with movies and ready to make her own masterpiece. As she’s casting her senior film project, she knows she’s found the perfect lead – Sana.
There’s only one problem. Rachel hates Sana. Rachel was the first girl Sana ever asked out, but Rachel thought it was a cruel prank and has detested Sana ever since.
Told in alternative viewpoints and inspired by classic romantic comedies, this engaging and edgy YA novel follows two strongwilled young women falling for each other despite themselves.
Overall, I think that this book has so many good parts to it, and it’ll be so amazing for brown and/or sapphic people to be able to see themselves on a cover. The fact that there are two girls who are shown as explicitly having romantic interest in each other is, quite frankly, amazing.
Also, something very important about this book is that the characters’ sexualities weren’t the focus of the story; they both seemed wholly comfortable with themselves and I just loved that, a lot (and I think it’ll be important for readers to see.)
I do want to note that the words “queer”, “gay”, or “lesbian” weren’t used throughout the book; this was found by another reviewer who was really hurt by this. So, just be aware of this if you want to read the book.
Tell Me How You Really Feel is a multi-POV novel, with perspectives from two QPOC who are most definitely falling in love.
- Sana is a girl who both cheerleads and does amazingly well in her studies. While she got accepted into Princeton for Medicine, she’s entirely unsure if she wants to fully commit & actually, unbeknownst to her family, is pursuing a gap year to take a medical fellowship in India.
- Rachel is someone who manages the film behind the camera, and of course, she excels in it. As someone who got into NYU based off of her teacher’s recommendation, she’s dependent on this teacher’s approval of her delayed final project: a film based off of the tale of Odysseus.
Our characters first met during freshman year when Rachel asked Sana out for a date. Naturally, Rachel automatically thought that it was PRANK and if that isn’t lowkey relatable, I don’t know what is.
I think that Rachel’s immediate jump to the conclusion that Sana’s action was based in malicious intent was realistic! However, it was just a HUGE misunderstanding and… I wasn’t 100% convinced of Sana’s train of thought. I felt like Rachel was being extremely unreasonable and downright disrespectful when she gave constant snarky remarks in the beginning, and it seemed as if their “animosity” was only there to create the enemies-to-lovers trope in the story.
(The fact that Sana was still interested in Rachel after everything is still kind of hilarious to me.)
However, I really do think that if Rachel was a White Boy, her mean actions would be overlooked by a lot of other reviewers (as evidenced by… the popularity of a Lot of books). So, that’s something to think about.
I think the main aspect of the story that disappointed me was that the writing that just seemed off for me. At first, I couldn’t put my finger on it, but then I realized that it was just… awkward in general.
I was looking into it, because I was unsure of what other people thought about the writing, so I looked at her debut novel and apparently a lot of other reviewers agreed that her writing was unrealistic?
So, I think that’s something to keep in mind if you’re looking to try this book!! But if you’re not that picky about contemporary writing, and don’t mind some awkward lines, you’re golden.
(Also, people who really like discussions about the art of filming will probably like this one!! I loved the subtle themes of feminism interwoven within Rachel’s struggle with filming The Odyssey.)
Also, something totally random: I was picturing Sana as the one on the right and Rachel as the one on the left (on the cover), but apparently I accidentally switched them!! I was legit having the hardest time trying to switch back AHHHHHHHHH.
By the way, even if I was disappointed by this book, I still loved the setting and the concept of it, so of course I made a Pinterest board. (And I was also searching for books to make Pinterest boards of, because it’s SO FREAKING FUN.)
Also, follow me on Pinterest 😇
>> Trigger warnings for heteronormativity, homophobic microaggressions, parental abandonment, and sexism. (This isn’t a thorough list; if you want to know about any specific trigger don’t hesitate to email/message me!)
>> Specific representation includes lesbian rep (both the main characters), an f/f romance, a Jewish Mexican main character (Rachel), and a Muslim biracial main character who is half Persian + half Indian (Sana).