Ophelia Rojas knows what she likes: her best friends, Cuban food, rose-gardening, and boys – way too many boys. Her friends and parents make fun of her endless stream of crushes, but Ophelia is a romantic at heart. She couldn’t change, even if she wanted to. So when she finds herself thinking more about cute, quiet Talia Sanchez than the loss of a perfect prom with her ex-boyfriend, seeds of doubt take root in Ophelia’s firm image of herself. Add to that the impending end of high school and the fracturing of her once-solid friend group, and things are spiraling a little out of control. But the course of love–and sexuality–never did run smooth. As her secrets begin to unravel, Ophelia must make a choice between clinging to the fantasy version of herself she’s always imagined or upending everyone’s expectations to rediscover who she really is, after all.
With how much love I had seen for this book since it was announced, of course I was intrigued about it. I knew it would be a coming of age story, and that made me slightly nervous simply because coming of age stories and I have a rocky relationship. But, this one is queer, and if it’s queer, I want to read it. Plus, the cover is absolutely gorgeous, and Ophelia’s story, one of trying to find herself among people who have such a clear picture of her, sounded like an amazing one. Trigger warnings: mentions of racism, homophobia
I love this book so much. It touched something deep inside me, it nestled itself right next to my heart. I was so, so good. I feel like I am bursting at the seams with how much it made me feel, with how much I love it. It’s incredible, spectacular book.
I’ll start off by saying that the writing style is gorgeous. It feels like the fragrance of flowers, the scent of them infused in. It’s hard to explain, but the way it is written feels like a certain type of love. It seems like it’s enough to say that it’s amazing, but that’s exactly what it is. It’s amazing.
I adored Ophelia. I adored her emotional journey. I adored everything about her. Her fear of changing, of wanting to stay the same because that is what is known to everybody else, of fearing what others with think of that change, of not wanting to rock the boat. Of wanting to push against the image that everybody has of her, because she has changed, but she still wants to hold onto the pieces she loves. But will those pieces still be there if she is not the same old Ophelia?
And the conversations surrounding queerness, how scary it can be and how messy and how it’s alright not to put a label on things. How queerness isn’t the only defining trait, but it is still apart of the larger whole. Of it being alright to just let it settle, to figure it out. This book is queer as heck, and just, oh my gosh, I loved Ophelia’s journey with it. She’s terrified, but it’s not all about pain. There is happiness in there, and there is love in there. It was messy and it felt so, so real.
I also adored the side characters, and all the friendships and the familial relationships. They’re not perfect. There are a lot of times that I didn’t really like Ophelia’s friends. But that is the point. Friendship isn’t perfect. There are different types of friends. And sometimes friendships grow and change and there’s fights and conflicts, but there is also so much love between. They love each other so much, and they way they show it was just incredible. There was so much love in this book. It was messy, but it was also so, so strong.
Ophelia also loves flowers, and has a rose garden! I mention things because I thought it was really freaking cool. I loved reading about her gardening, and her love of botany. The flowers were gorgeous, and I loved her love of them.
This was an incredible coming of age story. It’s rocky and painful sometimes, but there is also so much love infused in it as well. Ophelia’s journey was one that I absolutely adored reading, and one that deeply touched me. I loved this book so, so much.