Tell Me How You Really Feel
by Aminah Mae Safi
“You don’t get to pick the lessons you learn, do you? Even when you’re trying to teach something directly.”
Published June 11, 2019 by Feiwel & Friends
Genre: YA contemporary
Date finished: June 5, 2019
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 obsessed 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.
My thoughts (spoiler free)
Gather round kids – this right here is what we call a “classic rom-com plot” with the popular enemies-to-lovers trope, and all the misunderstandings, ill-timed injuries, and dramatic declarations of love that you’d expect from this kind of story. Cliche, you say? Of course, but it’s the kind of cliche that makes you laugh instead of rolling your eyes, because it knows it’s cliche and leans into that.
Tell Me How You Really Feel is about two ambitious, opinionated girls at a prestigious private school who are forced to work together on a film project. Sana is the popular smart girl that everyone expects to get into Princeton and become a famous doctor. Rachel is the film nerd who no one likes because she’s always yelling at them.
Basically, this book is for the people who watched Gilmore Girls and wanted Rory and Paris to get together.
Here are some things that I really liked about this book:
🌺 There were so many references to other rom-coms! Each chapter title was some famous rom-com quote – most of which I recognized – and it was easy to tell where this book drew influence from other stories, while still making them its own.
🌺 Rachel and Sana were both strong-willed and ambitious, and neither gave any of that up in the course of their love story. Despite their strong, seemingly clashing personalities, they managed to fit together without becoming any less themselves.
🌺 The storyline with Sana and her family was lovely. Sana and her mother have a very Rory-and-Lorelai type relationship, including the rich and overbearing grandparents, and seeing how Sana dealt with their expectations for her future was done beautifully, in my opinion.
🌺 Overall, the message of figuring out your own life and doing things for yourself instead of for the expectations of others was inspiring.
🌺 The meta-narrative of Rachel’s retelling of The Odyssey for her film project added an interesting layer to the story! Rachel figuring out how to present the character of Helen, while also coming to understand Sana in new ways, gave a lot of depth to their relationship.
🌺 You know I always love a good enemies-to-lovers storyline. I mean, it’s hard to go wrong with that. And Aminah Mae Safi did it so right.
This book was not life-changing for me, and there were points when it felt a bit overdramatic even for the genre, but I still enjoyed it quite a lot. There were cute moments, emotional moments, and at the heart of it a great love story that draws on the traditions of older romantic comedies while simultaneously feeling brand new. I’d say this is the perfect book for some light summer reading, and luckily it comes out tomorrow (June 11th), so you can go pick it up then!
*ARC PROVIDED BY EDELWEISS IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. QUOTES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.*
“Life comes too fast. It can change in a moment. It rolls and crests like a vast ocean. If you want to live as you wish, you will be a scandal. But you will also be free.”