So here’s something probably everyone knows about me by now. I do not really like het romance, especially YA het romance. Everything is so cringe-worthy and stereotypical and they use the same 5 tropes over and over again and they’re always white and pretty, except the girl is definitely ordinary looking because she looks in the mirror and says so about a dozen times before the book is over.
But! Something I will always give a chance is a diverse YA romance. Which is why I liked Everything, Everything and The Upside of Unrequited. Because when you step outside the mold, the tropes don’t fit into it anymore. And that only proves beneficial to these authors and books. I also really, consciously try my best to read not only sexually diverse novels, but racially diverse as well, and as sad as it is, there aren’t a lot of LGBTQ books that feature main characters of color. So I turn to the hets.
My boss at the library hyped this book to me for like, months before it was released, and I was so excited I ran out to Barnes and Noble literally the day it came out, and finished it in three days. Which is fast for me, though I’m aware it’s a snail pace for a lot of other book bloggers. I know she was genuinely worried she’d over-hyped it and I would end up liking it less than anticipated, but au contraire. Reading it made me feel so happy and bright and I’m so glad I did!
When Dimple Met Rishi is about a girl named Dimple and a boy named Rishi (duh). Dimple is extremely enthusiastic about coding and computers, and is ecstatic when she’s accepted into Stanford. Rishi (that’s Rih-shee, not Ree-shee) is one hundred percent devoted to his Indian culture, from traditional garb to arranged marriage. Dimple’s parents, concerned that her ambition will prevent her from finding a husband and giving them grandbabies, contact Rishi’s parents and arrange a relationship for the two of them. Or, what was supposed to be a relationship. The thing is, Rishi knows all about it, and Dimple doesn’t have a clue. So when Rishi shows up at the web-developers-in-training camp Dimple persuaded her parents into letting her spend her summer at, and introduces himself joyously as her future husband, she throws her coffee in his face and books it. And things only get better from there.
WARNING: This graphic novel, and its review, both include heavy sexual content. Proceed with knowledge!
This was recommended to me by a friend at my volunteer work and I could not be more thankful. See, I don’t usually go looking for books that have to do with BDSM because it usually means that some big handsome dude is tying a poor, naive girl up and spanking her (not that I’m referencing any series in particular… no sir). And that’s just not what I’m about. I harbor no ill-will for real-life relationships between male doms and female subs, but it’s not something I’m at all interested in devoting my own time to. To me, men have too much societal power over women for me to get anything out of a straight BDSM relationship in which the man is the dominant one.
I’m getting a little off track here.
This is the second time in my entire life in which I’ve actually gotten up off my ass and bought a book the day it came out, and oh god, am I glad I did. If this had been a library book I was reading, I would have finished it and immediately bolted to Barnes and Noble to own it. Most of us who make a habit of reading YA know Becky Albertalli from Simon and the Homo-Sapiens Agenda, but this is, dare I say it, even better. This is a story that I, a mentally ill, bisexual, fat, young adult girl desperately needed, and I’m so grateful that I managed to get a copy as soon as I did.
The Upside of Unrequited is centered around a girl named Molly and her sister Cassie. Cassie is a force to be reckoned with, a fiercely confident lesbian with more than a little sexual experience under her belt, while Molly is a much more reserved, creative soul who pines after the affection her sister so easily receives. When Cassie finds the perfect girlfriend, a half-Korean girl named Mina, the two of them are determined to set Molly up with Mina’s best friend Will. But Molly’s met someone else: her cute, chubby, nerdy coworker Reid, who she feels she can be herself around. But a relationship with Will means less chance of growing apart from Cassie, and a relationship with Reid points to a future Molly isn’t sure of.
(AKA, A Review of a Heterosexual Romance Novel By Someone Who Hates Heterosexual Romance Novels)
Okay, first of all, to some people, the title of this review is almost a spoiler for the book. But I justify the use of it by my estimation that the middle of the Venn diagram that sits between ‘people who have seen Repo! The Genetic Opera‘ and ‘people who enjoy YA romance novels’ does not have very many people in it. Certainly, I’m still not really in it, even though I read them and enjoy them about once every 100 years. My enjoyment of any given heterosexual romance novel is like a lunar eclipse: rare, dark, and slightly unnerving.
A lot of people in my life were surprised that I read this book, and I will admit, it’s absolutely not something I would pick up with no outside encouragement. The encouragement here was the movie (I love Amandla Stenberg and would give her an Oscar for folding laundry), so I ultimately did decide to pick up the book even though every particle of my heterosexual romance hating brain was begging me to put it back down. But I’m fairly glad that I didn’t.
(For the purpose of this review, every time I use the phrase ‘romance novel’, assume I’m talking about traditional, cisgender, heterosexual romance novels. Alright. Carry on.)
Okay. Join me in a flashback for a second. I was with my friend Sam at Barnes and Noble about a year ago, trying to dip my toe back into the YA genre after reading a slew of dull adult contemporary that left my spirit shriveled up and dead. I was perusing the section while she went to look through some poetry books, when, as usual, an employee came up and asked me if I needed any help.
I’m not shy, but I am independent in stores to a weird degree, so I very rarely swallow my pride and ask for help when I can’t find something. But there was no way I was going to swallow down all the sickly heterosexual side romance that I could practically smell oozing from the shelves, so I asked if she knew any good LGBT young adult reads. And she was so excited when she pointed me to We Are the Ants.
WARNING! This review is free of plot spoilers, but there are what I guess you could call sort of mood spoilers (as in, whether the ending is happy or sad). So if even those kinds of spoilers turn you off, maybe find a vaguer review).