“I have so many things to say about the beautiful prose, the characters, but I won’t…because I, Leila Azadi, am a Persian scaredy-cat. I can’t believe even English class makes me anxious these days.”
Leila is an Iranian American teenager just trying to make it through her four years at Armstead Academy, which is possibly the whitest place in the greater Boston area. But this year, Leila’s come back from a summer experience that has opened her eyes to a new part of her identity: she likes girls. Worried about how her very traditional Iranian parents will react, Leila’s been hiding this from her family, even her friends. She knows if other students at Armstead found out, her life would become much more difficult. Thankfully, she’s never had a crush on anyone, yet.
When a new girl shows up in school, Leila starts to fall, fast. She takes more risks and opens herself up to new possibilities. Confused about what she’s feeling and the mixed signals she’s receiving, Leila starts to confide in trusted friends. In this journey of self-discovery, Leila finds that everyone has their own secrets, and most people will surprise you in the end.
Farizan presents a thoughtful, honest portrayal of a young girl struggling to come to terms with the many different parts of her identity. This novel plays with themes of sexuality, coming out, immigrant families, and the values of true friendship with a main character who is hard to hate and so easily relatable. In most ways, Leila is your typical teenager, just trying to figure out who she is and how she fits into the world.
Farizan, Sara. Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel. New York: Algonquin , 2016. Print.