Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel: A Novel by Sara Farizan

Sara Farizan does an amazing job of capturing high school romantic angst; from the unrequited crush to the captivating newcomer, from misread signs to the one who’s been there all along, Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel really has it all.

But there’s a lot more going on here than just a romance. Leila is not just trying to figure out how to tell people that she likes girls.  And she’s not just trying to figure out if a certain girl is right for her.  She’s also trying to figure out how to manage her parents’ expectations, her seemingly perfect sister and what types of activities actually interest her. It’s a true picture of high school, trying to find someone and find yourself all at the same time.

Farizan also does a masterful job at depicting a high school that is filled with the types of kids that actually go to high school.  Kids with different backgrounds, social cliques based on assumptions, the capricious nature of friendship, it’s all here.  I particularly was impressed with the amount of casual racism.  While this is clearly not the main focus of the book, Farizan makes it obvious that this is very much a part of life.  The peer pressure here was also subtle but impressive.  As in life, it’s not always a group of people actually standing around saying “come on, do it”.  So much more common is the way that teens just fall into things to please a friend or love interest, without even giving it much thought.

Great for: This is a great choice for someone who wants to read about girls crushing, kissing, stressing out, misreading cues and falling for each other.  While issues like coming out are covered, this is not a weighty or heavy book.  It is an absolute treat to read.  And as such, it would make a lovely Valentine’s present (look at that cover, it’s practically wrapping paper)!

Age Recommendation: Middle school and up.  There’s no onscreen sex and the one use of the f word is censored part way through.  I’d say as soon as kids are really interested in reading about romantic relationships, this would work.  I do think some parents may want to address the choices teens make regarding cigarettes and alcohol, but that’s pretty much it.

Sex, Nudity, Dating – A teen wants a girlfriend.  A teen speculates that another teen is seeing a teacher and that two teachers are dating each other.  Two teens kiss, tongues are mentioned.  Two teens dance “grinding”.  A teen scratches his balls.  A bong is penis-shaped. People make out at a party.  Two people discuss sex (not with each other, just about how it changes).  A teen says that she and her boyfriends “mate like rabbits”.  A teen offers to order an adult movie. Teens kiss. Two teens have sex, one is a virgin.  A teen complains her partner has little stamina and prefers a certain position.
Profanity – “shit”, “screwed”, “goddamn”, “bitch”,  “shut up”, “sucks,” “assholes”, “dyke”, “fu-“, “damn”, “hell”, “ass”,
Death, Violence and Gore – A teen’s brother died in a car accident. A teen is harassed for coming out.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – A teen drinks Gatorade mixed with vodka during school. A party for teens involves people chugging beers, drinks that will become spiked.  Adults drink wine with dinner.  Teens drink mixed drinks.  One of these teens has never had more than a sip of champagne prior to this. They get drunk.  At a party, a girl takes hits from a bong.  Teens smoke cigarettes. A teen snorts Adderall. A teen drinks from a flask. A teen vomits from drinking to excess.
Frightening or Intense Things – A college student is seen kissing someone of the same gender which forced him to come out to his parents.  They choose to kick him out.  A teen mentions there are parts of the world where people are imprisoned or even killed for being gay.  Public outing.

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