On Blogging and Feeling Generally Stuck

You might’ve noticed that I took a three-month hiatus from blogging at the end of 2018. (You also might not have noticed because, like me, it’s more difficult for you to tell that something is missing when you aren’t actively looking at it. 😬) This wasn’t a planned thing, but it felt necessary for me, and I wanted to talk a bit about my absence and my plans going forward.

(A note that I’m going to be going into some depression-y stuff here just a bit — it won’t be that deep of a discussion, but I wanted to mention it up-front.)

I realized in the last quarter of 2018 that I was more depressed than I had thought I was — I had so many things going well for me, and I guess that having good things happening for me tricked my brain into thinking I was actually happy when I wasn’t. I wasn’t enjoying things anymore, and I just kind of crashed at the end of the year… On the one hand I wasn’t pressuring myself to get things done and that was kind of nice, but on the other hand I wasn’t doing much of anything, and that was really difficult because I need stimulation in order to keep myself moving and I wasn’t really getting that from anything. I had a bit of an upswing during the first eight days of 2019, and then I hit a low point again and I’m trying to level my moods back out now. It’s difficult.

I’ve never had much of a “schedule” for this blog, and after the last few months I’m thinking that I need to continue not having a real schedule for a while. I’m going to aim to post twice per week for a while to see how that goes, and then later in the year I’ll reassess to see if I want to make any changes. I’m really behind on reviews right now because I’ve been so stressed and I haven’t been reading all that much and writing has been even more difficult for me.

I’m working on getting myself back in check — I have a monthly ARC checklist in my bullet journal that I’m going to try to stick to, and I’m hoping to catch myself back up because I have a LOT of fantastic ARCs on my iPad that are just waiting for me to devour them right now. I also just have a lot of leftover 2018 ARCs that I haven’t read, and a lot that I HAVE read but have struggled with reviewing. I don’t think that putting this kind of pressure on myself has been helping me, and I’m trying to get myself to relax a little more and stress a little less about this.

Also, in 2019 I really want to focus on drafting out my novel. I’ve had this story in my head for over a year now and I know where I want it to go, but I’m having trouble getting the words down. I started trying the silly “writing in Comic Sans” trick during my last writing session and for whatever reason it seems to be working, so I’m going to be trying that out for a while.

My other writing-related goal for this year is that I want to attend the Rainbow Weekend workshop at The Writing Barn, but I don’t feel that this is likely to happen because I don’t have a lot to show for myself in terms of writing, and I honestly feel kind of ashamed. My lack of any creative writing in the last several years is trauma-related and I know that this isn’t my fault, but I’m still blaming myself. I’d like to go to the workshop to try to break myself out of this slump I’m in and to try to write in a new place and reinvigorate myself, but even if I’ve done enough to actually get accepted the only way I’d be able to afford to go is with a scholarship, and that’s even less likely to happen because I don’t feel like I “look” serious enough to actually get one. I’m going to work on things and see if I can get myself situated to where I can apply, but I don’t feel hopeful.

I’m hoping to do more non-review blog posts this year and to try to do more collaborative things than I did last year — I have been feeling really lonely, and I think I need a tighter community around me at this point. Interacting with people is a challenge, and I feel very distant from most people and like most people are keeping their distance from me, and I want more engagement… More interaction… More feedback… More friends… More. Support goes a long way, and I think I need more of it than I have in the past.

Overall, I’m going to try to let my creative instincts drive me this year. I don’t know where they’re going to take me or what will happen, but I need it. It could take me a while to get my footing, but I’ll get it. I just need to keep at it.

Thank you so much for your support, and I hope we can have an amazing 2019 together!

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September Wrap-up!

I have blogged almost not at all this month, and while I wish I could have done more I feel okay with this. I’ll talk about that more later — for now, let’s get into what all I read in the last month!

Reads for September

Here’s all I read in September:

That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger — 5 of 5 stars

Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens anthology (ARC) — 4 of 5 stars

Zora & Me: The Cursed Ground by T. R. Simon — 5 of 5 stars

Skeleton Tree by Kim Ventrella — 5 of 5 stars

Black Panther: The Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith — 5 of 5 stars

Carrie by Stephen King — 5 of 5 stars

Sadie by Courtney Summers — 4.5 of 5 stars

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman — 5 of 5 stars

Salt by Hannah Moskowitz — 5 of 5 stars

One True Way by Shannon Hitchcock — 5 of 5 stars

Trans Teen Survival Guide by Owl and Fox Fisher (ARC) — 2 of 5 stars

You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino — 5 of 5 stars

Big Words Small Stories: The Missing Donut by Judith Henderson (ARC) — 5 of 5 stars

I Am Small by Qin Leng (ARC) — 5 of 5 stars

Sleep, Sheep! by Kerry Lyn Sparrow (ARC) — 5 of 5 stars

The Adventures of Wilhelm: A Rat’s Tale by Maria Ritter (ARC) — 2 of 5 stars

The Spy With The Red Balloon by Katherine Locke (ARC) — 5 of 5 stars

 

Reading stats:

  • Number of books read: 17
  • Number of nonfiction books: 1
  • Number of ARCs: 7
  • Number of books by marginalized authors: ~11
  • Number of library books: 3
  • Number of books that WEREN’T part of my monthly TBR: 1

I am very happy with how well I stuck to my TBR this month! The only book I read that wasn’t on my TBR was Carrie, which wass a reread for me as well, but I’ve made peace with it because I reread it for a special side project that will be completely worthwhile when I finish it.

I am less happy with my blogging and review-writing for this month — and by that I mean my lack thereof. I have a BUNCH of ARCs I need to review now, and I’m planning to put a concentrated effort on writing them in October!

On The Personal Side…

I turned 24 in September, and it has been a wild month ever since then. I got my driver’s license the day after my birthday, somehow passing my test on the first try.  Despite it being almost three weeks since I got my license, I’ve only driven by myself twice in the meantime, and only about a mile away both times. I still feel a bit awkward driving places by myself and I’m working on building my confidence up, but I’m working on it. Also, because I’m in Oregon I was able to get an “X” gender marker on my license! I’ve been waiting to change my gender marker since that option was legalized literally days after I got my learner permit, and it feels really satisfying to have it be a reality for me now.

The Monday after my birthday, I said goodbye to my job of the last four years (which I already miss a ton), and on Wednesday of that week I started my new job as a high school librarian! I really lucked out on all fronts with that job — it came at exactly the time I needed it to, the people are great, and I’m doing pretty much exactly what I want to be doing with quite a bit of control, and I really love it. The only thing that could be better is the pay, but I’m getting paid a little more than I was at my old job and I have more than double the hours, and I’ll be able to live with it. For my first post-college job, I am really lucky with what I got.

I feel like I’ve been thrown into growing up faster this month, and I surprisingly feel pretty okay with this. It’s been cutting into my free time (and my blogging time) and it’s been overwhelming at times, but I feel things starting to mellow and level out as the days go by. Things feel like they’re starting to come together for me, and while I still have quite a ways to go I’m feeling much better about the way things are going for me. Things are looking up!

Also, if you like my content, there are new ways in which you can support me now!

The best way to support me is by becoming a Patron on my new Patreon page! My Patrons will be receiving lots of bookish and cat-related content from me and my cat, Coco, so please check it out! We really appreciate it!
https://www.patreon.com/librarybenni

If you’d prefer one-time or occasional donations, that’s okay too! I have both a Ko-fi and a Paypal.me set up, and you are welcome to use either, if you wish! (Coco had a $450 vet bill in September and I’m struggling a little with paying it off, so a little extra help would be VERY appreciated.)
http://ko-fi.com/librarybenni
http://paypal.me/librarybenni

Rather support me with items rather than with cash? I have an Amazon wishlist, too! There are both fun things and necessities on this list, and I’d love to receive any of them!
http://a.co/arrvEe3

The last couple months have been kind of rough, so I really appreciate any support I can get!

How was your September? What are you looking forward to in October?

September Preorders!

Oh, do I have preorders this month! I actually have several physical books for September, which is quite a change from the rest of the year. Usually I have trouble telling myself to get ebooks instead of physical books, but I’ve been pretty good at buying ebooks this year. I think I have a good mix this month, and I’m excited.

Here are my September picks!

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Release date: 9/4/2018
Format: Kindle
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/1250105714

I have heard so many amazing things about this book! (Check out my friend Taylor’s review here!) Several people I trust have been squealing about this one, and so I’m excited for it as well.

Soft on Soft by Em Ali

Cover placeholder from Goodreads
Cover placeholder from Goodreads

Release date: 9/10/2018
Format: Kindle
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Soft-Em-Ali-ebook/dp/B07GL135XS/

Cats? Anxiety? Queer fluffy romance? Yes, please! I love Em, and I’m really excited to read zir new book!

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Release date: 9/11/2018
Format: Hardcover
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Summer-Bird-Blue-Akemi-Bowman/dp/1481487752/

My birthday book for this year. 🙂 I loved Bowman’s first book, so this one was an easy choice for me. (Also, how gorgeous is that cover?)

You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Release date: 9/25/2018
Format: Hardcover
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/You-Dont-Know-Everything-Jilly-ebook/dp/B078TJPKYN/

After GEORGE, I am super excited for Gino’s next release! Deaf rep in books, especially middle grade, is also a big draw for me.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Release date: 9/25/2018
Format: Hardcover
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Absolutely-Remarkable-Thing-Novel-ebook/dp/B0796DR2XV/

Hank Green’s debut strikes me as odd and quirky, and I’m intrigued. I’ve heard good things about this one so far, so I hope it lives up to expectations!

A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Release date: 9/25/2018
Format: Hardcover
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Blade-So-Black-L-L-McKinney/dp/1250153905/

I’m a sucker for Alice in Wonderland stories, and this urban fantasy retelling sounds amazing. And that cover is perfect.

What September releases are you excited for?

ARC Review: A Dark and Twisting Path (A Writer’s Apprentice Mystery #3) by Julia Buckley

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Title: A Dark and Twisting Path (A Writer’s Apprentice Mystery #3)

Author: Julia Buckley

Category: Adult Mystery

Publisher/Date: Berkley Books/31 July 2018

Edition: eARC

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36601854-a-dark-and-twisting-path

Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Dark-Twisting-Writers-Apprentice-Mystery-ebook/dp/B077CRJ71C/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-dark-and-twisting-path-julia-buckley/1127456867?ean=9780425282625#/

Writer’s apprentice Lena London is happily working on a new collaboration with her idol and bestselling suspense novelist and friend Camilla Graham, but her joy is short-lived when a dark cloud descends upon the quaint town of Blue Lake, Indiana…

Lena’s best friend, Allison, is in a panic. On a walk in the woods by her home, Allison discovers the body of her mail carrier, an argumentative man who recently had a falling out with Allison’s husband. Lena quickly realizes that Allison has nothing to worry about as the murder weapon points to a different suspect altogether: Lena’s embattled boyfriend, Sam West.

Sam was cleared of his wife’s murder when she was found alive, and now someone is trying to make him look guilty again. Surveillance video of a break-in at his house shows a shadowy figure trying to incriminate him by stealing the weapon from his desk. Lena and Camilla work on a suspect list, but a threatening note and a violent intrusion at Graham House prove that the devious killer has decided to write them into the plot.

I received an ARC from the publisher via the First to Read program. This book has content warnings for death, murder, on-page attempted murder, stalking, kidnapping (both adults and children), and violence.

This is definitely one of the most enjoyable cozy mysteries I’ve read in a while! This isn’t your typical “someone gets murdered so a friend tries to solve the mystery on their own” mystery book; it actually has quite a bit in common with a thriller. The character relationships in this book are complex, and though our main character, Lena, wants the mystery solved, she also in a sense wants to stay away from the mystery because she and her partner are in real danger because of it. The plot itself is rather complex, but not in a confusing way; though this book is the third in the series and reading the other two in order is recommended (especially by other readers), I had no problem following what was going on without reading the preceding books.

This book also had a very nice “small town” feel to it. The sense of feeling like everyone is watching you, how word travels very quickly, and how unforgiving small town people who don’t believe you can be felt incredibly real to me, and I loved this. The characters felt well-rounded and complex, even if they were side characters, and this part of the book was well done. (And the book gets bonus points for treating librarians like superheroes — because we are.)

Overall, this was a really good read. If you’re looking for a new cozy mystery series to pick up, you might like this one!

Final rating: 4 of 5 stars

September To-Read List!

Remember how I said that I usually don’t do TBRs? I found last month’s TBR so helpful that I’m going to try to keep doing them for a while! I don’t know if I’ll keep this up indefinitely, but I have a LOT of books to read and this has at least been helping me stay organized.

I’m looking at my TBR not as a to-do list but as a menu of options I can choose from to read. I think that’s taking the pressure off of me quite a bit — and it allows me to not feel quite so guilty for not finishing every single book I have on my list.

August TBR Stats

Pile 1: #SummerOfPLL Reads
Amount completed: 6/9
Carrying over: 0

Pile 2: Library Books
Amount completed: 8/8
Carrying over: 0

Pile 3: ARC August!
Amount completed: 5/18
Carrying over: 12

Non-TBR Books Read: 1 (not including the ARC I read before I made my TBR)

I finished all of my library books! I also finished all of the main Pretty Little Liars books, but did not get to the companion ones and I’ve made my peace with that. The ARCs did not get the attention they needed in August, so they’re getting bumped forward to September!

September’s TBR

Pile 1: New Books

I have a lot of books that I’ve preordered or purchased while they were discounted on Amazon and haven’t read this year, and I feel really bad because I really want to read them. So, my first target area for September is filled with them!

  • Pride Must Be A Place by Kevin Craig
  • Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi
  • Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid
  • The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotic by David Arnold
  • The Summer of Us by Cecilia Vinesse
  • Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather
  • Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
  • #murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil
  • If Only by Jennifer Gilmore
  • To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin
  • The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson
  • Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
  • Life Inside My Mind anthology
  • We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
  • Not the Girls You’re Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi
  • The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
  • Fawkes by Nadine Brandes
  • Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Justina Chen
  • Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
  • That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger
  • Sadie by Courtney Summers
  • Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman
  • You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino
  • A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney
  • An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
  • Soft on Soft by Em Ali

Pile 2: ARCs

This pile has two parts: the ARCs that I’m carrying over from August, and the ARCs that are new to the September pile.

Sub-pile: Carryover ARCs

  • Disbanded Kingdom by Polis Loizou
  • Rules of the Ruff by Heidi Lang
  • Love Letters to Jane’s World by Paige Braddock
  • The Adventures of Wilhelm: A Rat’s Tale by Maria Ritter
  • The Lost Art of Reading by David L. Ulin
  • The Splintered Light by Ginger Johnson
  • Big Words Small Stories: The Missing Donut by Judith Henderson
  • The Ghost Road by Charis Cotter
  • Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground by T.R. Simon
  • Unbroken Anthology
  • Black Diamond Fall by Joseph Olshan
  • Trans Teen Survival Guide by Owl Fisher and Fox Fisher

Sub-pile: New ARCs

  • Sleep, Sheep! by Kerry Sparrow
  • I am Small by Qin Leng
  • How to Read Donald Duck by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart
  • Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • Unwritten by Tara Gilboy
  • Histories of the Transgender Child by Julian Gill-Peterson
  • The Spy With The Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
  • Salt by Hannah Moskowitz
  • The Chaos of Now by Erin Jade Lange

Pile 3: Library Books

You know that thing where you finish all of your library books and go to the library to return them and then somehow walk out carrying more library books? Yep, I did that. It’s okay, though — libraries are GOOD!

  • One True Way by Shannon Hitchcock
  • Book Scavenger: The Unbreakable Code by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
  • The Skeleton Tree by Kim Ventrella
  • Black Panther: The Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith
  • The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
  • Awakening: How Gays and Lesbians Brought Marriage Equality to America by Nathaniel Frank

Do I think there’s any possible way I’m going to finish all of these in September? Pfft, no… There are 53 books on this list! My goal is to try to give myself options while still reading the books I actually need to read, and I think this does that, right?

What are you hoping to read in September?

August Wrap-up!

I am tired! I haven’t felt like blogging too much this last month, and I’ve tried not to pressure myself into it because I had a lot going on. I still got lots of reading, done, though!

Reads for August

Here’s all I read in August:

A Dark and Twisting Path by Julia Buckley (ARC) — 4 of 5 stars

Stunning by Sara Shepard — 2 of 5 stars

How to Be Miserable by Randy J. Paterson — 4 of 5 stars

Finding Yvonne by Brandy Colbert — 5 of 5 stars

Burned by Sara Shepard — 2 of 5 stars

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer — 4 of 5 stars

Crushed by Sara Shepard — 2 of 5 stars

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham — 2 of 5 stars

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (ARC) — 5 of 5 stars — review here!

Deadly by Sara Shepard — 2 of 5 stars

Archie: Volume One by Mark Waid, Fiona Staples, Annie Wu, and Veronica Fish — 4 of 5 stars

Toxic by Sara Shepard — 1 of 5 stars

Wicca’s Charm by Catherine Edwards Sanders — 1 of 5 stars

Vicious by Sara Shepard — 2 of 5 stars

This Book is Overdue! by Marilyn Johnson — 4 of 5 stars

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson (ARC) — 5 of 5 stars

Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman — 5 of 5 stars

The Librarian’s Book of Quotes by Tatyana Eckstrand — 5 of 5 stars

Dream Country by Shannon Gibney (ARC) — 4 of 5 stars

How to Speak Cat by Aline Alexander Newman (ARC) — 4.5 of 5 stars

Like Never and Always by Ann Aguirre (ARC) — 4 of 5 stars

 

Reading stats:

  • Number of books read: 21
  • Number of nonfiction books: 7
  • Number of ARCs: 6
  • Number of books by marginalized authors: ~4
  • Number of library books: 8
  • Number of books that WEREN’T part of my monthly TBR: 1

I did a REALLY good job of sticking to my TBR this month! The only book that wasn’t on my TBR that I read was a book I preordered, so I’m okay with this. I AM frustrated at how sticking so close to my TBR this month caused me to read so few books by marginalized authors. I do recognize that by having a large chunk of my reading dedicated to #SummerOfPLL I already set myself up to read fewer marginalized authors, and I’m also seeing that the library books I’m picking up are also pretty white, abled, and non-queer. Maybe this is why I felt like I enjoyed fewer books overall that I read this month than I usually do. I’ll need to be more aware of this in the future.

On The Personal Side…

I’m still exercising more, which is nice. My pool is shutting down for maintenance for the next three weeks, which sucks, but I’m so far still planning to go back after they reopen late in September. I’ve also been zooming through levels in Pokémon Go, although I stopped to do a raid on a city lawn and my Fitbit lost a fight with a sprinkler earlier in the month so I had to get a new one… I love this weather right now, and I’m really going to miss it when it’s gone.

I have a driving test scheduled at the DMV for the day after my birthday this month! If all goes well, I SHOULD get my license and I’ll be able to actually use my car to go get groceries! That’s all I want. To be able to drive to the grocery store and back. That’s it. That’s all I need.

#ARCAugust was a bit of a bust, so I’ll be moving quite a bit of ARCs on my TBR over to my September TBR. I decided that I’m going to try to keep having a TBR each month for a while just to see how it goes. I’ll have a post up about my September TBR pretty soon.

Also, if you like my content, there are new ways in which you can support me now!

The best way to support me is by becoming a Patron on my new Patreon page! My Patrons will be receiving lots of bookish and cat-related content from me and my cat, Coco, so please check it out! We really appreciate it!
https://www.patreon.com/librarybenni

If you’d prefer one-time or occasional donations, that’s okay too! I have both a Ko-fi and a Paypal.me set up, and you are welcome to use either, if you wish! (I have a rather large vet bill coming up for Coco next month, so a little extra help would be VERY appreciated.)
http://ko-fi.com/librarybenni
http://paypal.me/librarybenni

Rather support me with items rather than with cash? I have an Amazon wishlist, too! There are both fun things and necessities on this list, and I’d love to receive any of them!
http://a.co/arrvEe3

The last couple months have been kind of rough, so I really appreciate any support I can get!

How was your August? Any fun plans for September? Let’s talk in the comments!

ARC Review: Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Title: Darius the Great is Not Okay

Author: Adib Khorram

Category: YA Contemporary (LGBTQIAP+)

Publisher/Date: Dial Books/28 August 2018

Edition: eARC

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37506437-darius-the-great-is-not-okay

Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Darius-Great-Okay-Adib-Khorram-ebook/dp/B077WZ46TC/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/darius-the-great-is-not-okay-adib-khorram/1127582464?ean=9780525552963#/

Darius doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough, in America or in Iran. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this unforgettable debut introduces a brilliant new voice in contemporary YA.

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understand that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.

Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via Penguin’s First to Read program. This book has content warnings for racism/xenophobia, homophobia, fat-shaming, depression/depression-related ableism, bullying, terminal illness in a family member, and strained family relationships.

This is one of those books that, after reading it, you want absolutely everyone to read it. Darius is such an intriguing main character, and Khorram managed to balance how Darius doesn’t feel like he fits in with either side of his family in a very delicate manner. Darius feels disconnected from his Persian heritage because he wasn’t taught to speak the language from birth like his younger sister was and because the culture doesn’t really “approve” of his medication for depression, and he also feels disconnected from his white father who doesn’t seem to approve of Darius’s life, constantly policing him for being fat and for choices he makes in his life. The feeling of being a teenager, especially a fat teenager of color, who doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere was very well-done, and I really empathized with Darius.

As someone with depression, I also really loved the depression rep and the discussions around mental health in this book. Many people who don’t have depression don’t understand that it’s not a matter of “just being happy” and getting shamed for trying to treat it can be incredibly overwhelming. This part of the book in particular was one that I felt very deeply; it almost felt like a weight was dragging my shoulders down as I continued to read because this kind of talk is SO common and so harmful for someone who is just trying to seek help.

The romance in this book was very light and sweet, and I’m actually rather glad that it kind of took a backseat to the other themes in the book because this book covered so much ground and I think was stronger for having the romance be a little less prominent. This is a story about a gay boy, yes, but it’s a story about that gay boy’s Persian heritage and his family and how he’s viewed as a fat person, and I’m really glad that those things took the stage in this one.

I absolutely adored this book. If you haven’t picked it up yet, you really should.

Final rating: 5 of 5 stars