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YA Review: This is My Brain in Love by I.W. Gregorio

Title: This is My Brain in Love
Author: I.W. Gregorio
Year published: 2020
Category: YA fiction (romance)
Pages: 384 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location: (my 2021 Google Reading map)USA (NY)

SummaryTold in dual narrative, This Is My Brain in Love is a stunning YA contemporary romance, exploring mental health, race, and, ultimately self-acceptance.

Jocelyn Wu has just three wishes for her junior year: To make it through without dying of boredom, to direct a short film with her BFF Priya Venkatram, and to get at least two months into the year without being compared to or confused with Peggy Chang, the only other Chinese girl in her grade.
Will Domenici has two goals: to find a paying summer internship, and to prove he has what it takes to become an editor on his school paper.

Then Jocelyn's father tells her their family restaurant may be going under, and all wishes are off. Because her dad has the marketing skills of a dumpling, it's up to Jocelyn and her unlikely new employee, Will, to bring A-Plus Chinese Garden into the 21st century (or, at least, to Facebook).

What starts off as a rocky partnership soon grows into something more. But family prejudices and the uncertain future of A-Plus threaten to keep Will and Jocelyn apart. It will take everything they have and more, to save the family restaurant and their budding romance.

Review: A librarian friend told me that I would love this book and she was right!

Jocelyn and Will are both so likable! They are interesting, smart, fun, caring, take action kind of teens/characters. I love that they are involved with their families, will go to great lengths to help others, and that they are totally confused about how to handle liking one another.

While mental health issues are an important aspect of this story, they do not dominate, which is really effective. Depression and anxiety are part of the characters' lives, but do not define them. They affect the characters, but do not determine their futures. And, they are talked about, sometimes in whispers, and sometimes out loud. Really out loud. That's how life is. People have days that are good and days that are tougher and sometimes moments of panic. It doesn't mean they are lesser or cannot handle pressure. It just means they sometimes need help.

And the romance in this book is really sweet. And understated. The reader knows they like each other from the get-go and the characters figure it out pretty quickly as well. I liked that. None of this will they or won't they because they are upfront about their feelings (both awkward and not). Gregorio does an excellent job with all aspects of this story.

Challenges for which these count: none.

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