Cover Image: Tell Me How You Really Feel

Tell Me How You Really Feel

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Member Reviews

Look, the characters here? So unlikable. I honestly couldn't stand them which made reading this book ridiculously difficult. Things they had problems with felt like no-brainers. Again, communication, being a decent human-being to others, etc. And Sana's problem of not picking a college yet because of the internship she wants to do??? I'm not sure why any family would have a problem with it.Why, seriously why was it a huge secret? I had a problem with her dad coming back and people acting like Sana should be happy instead of doing what she did which made sense. 

So much about this book just did not work for me. I mean, don't even get me started on the romance which felt suuuuuper forced. 

Not liking this book makes me so sad because the cover is beautiful and I want to read great f/f books so I can put them in the hands of teens that want them, but this one won't be a first choice for me.
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I wanted to love this so much and I really thought I would. Sadly, I didn't. I didn't like the main characters,  I disliked them both from their respective introductions and there's no reprieve in sight. I ended up DNFing it, a lot of readers will like watching the character development that I'm sure probably occurs later on in this story, I couldn't make it through well enough to find out myself.
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I really thought that I would enjoy this book more than I did....I usually love the whole rivals to love type book but these characters just annoyed me so much. So many misunderstanding and crazy chips on their shoulders and ugh. While it did redeem itself a little by the end it won't ever be a favorite.
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I didn't love Not the Girls You're Looking For, but the cover and the description convinced me to try this one. It was okay, but it just wasn't....believable. I'll definitely buy it for my library and recommend it to teens, but it just wasn't my cup of tea.
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Cute enemies-to-lovers story. I do wish Rachel's history had gotten a little more substance. She's clearly bitter at "pretty people" and thinks Sana was playing a prank when asking her out, which is believable for someone in her position except for the fact that it isn't really discussed. Just something as simple as someone else on Sana's cheer leading squad making a comment about Rachel would make it seem more reasonable. As it is, Rachel seems bitter with no actual cause behind it because everyone seems to be nice to her. Also, definitely wish there was a little bit more resolution at the end other than the whole "wait for me for a year" thing. Maybe just a short 1 year later segment? Or at least them driving off into the sunset or something equally smushy romantic?
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I really enjoyed a lot of things about this book. The diversity alone makes it a book worth reading, most of the characters were entertaining for the most part, and the book gave me so many Gilmore girls vibes (I feel like I’ve seen this comparison before but I wanted to point it out as well!).. but there was something missing about it that made me not fully connect, and if I’m being honest, it made it pretty forgettable overall for me. I would still recommend it to those who love a well written YA contemporary with diversity and the enemies to lovers romance, but it unfortunately didn’t make it as a favorite for me! It’s disappointing because i was so excited for this book, but I have to be honest with myself and although many things about it were enjoyable, it was missing that secret ingredient that made me fully connect with the characters, romance and story and love it like I was hoping!
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Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This was such a great book, I loved the characters and the romance was so great! I loved Sana and Rachel so much, each girl were so relatable with the events that were happening in their lives and how they reacted to them. Sana is worried about whether she wants to become a surgeon because of her family pressure and to make amends for her mother's life or because it's what she really wants, she is also suffering from an unrequited crush on Rachel. Rachel meanwhile is working on finishing her senior film project and worrying about getting enough scholarship money to attend NYU film school. After an incident leaves Rachel and Sana working on the film project together feelings being to develop and both girls adjust to the changes in their lives.
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Like so many others, this glorious cover drew me right into this story. It's still such a sad rarity to see f/f YA, let alone a cover that boldly proclaims it be exactly what it is -- a rom-com between two young women. I also enjoyed the premise of hate-to-love, which is an unabashed favorite trope of mine. But something about this held me slightly at arms length, and I think it mostly had to do with the characters. I just didn't really gel with the fact that Rachel would be SO. ANGRY. about a perceived slight from Sana after so many years. Sana.... didn't really do anything? And Rachel was just beyond mean to Sana for so much of the book. I get that this is supressed I LOVE YOU BUT I DON'T WANT TO ADMIT IT energy, but Rachel just felt like Paris Gellar on steroids. I found myself having a hard time fully investing in the story because of this. But I would 110% read more from this author, and if you're on the lookout for f/f romance, you'll want to add this to your TBR list.
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This was a really sweet, fun read! I fell in love with the two main characters just as they were falling for each other. In a year with a LOT of really great YA queer romances, this one is a must-read!
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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley for an honest review.

I couldn't really get into this story because I didn't like the characters.  I didn't understand why Sana liked Rachel or why she even cared about her.  Rachel was just rude and hateful.  I'm sure this will work for others but it just wasn't for me.
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I'd so been looking forward to Tell Me How You Really Feel, especially because I really enjoyed Safi's f/f short story in Fresh Ink, and it absolutely delivered f/f romcom fluffy cuteness.

Rachel and Sana have a sort of hate to love kind of thing going. It's hate on Rachel's side and unrequited crush on Sana's side. What was great about this was that usually it's a nerdy person idolizing a beautiful person, and Safi flips that. Sana's a popular, gorgeous, genius, perfect cheerleader, and Rachel's the snarky, bossy, fat (I'm pretty sure, though the word isn't used. She's definitely not super skinny like on the cover.) outsider. Sana has it bad from the outset, whereas Rachel hates her because of her own issues.

Rachel's not the easiest character to like tbh, but I do always have sympathy for the bitches. She dreams of a career as a director, and she's working on a film for the independent study project she put together in her senior year, which should tell you just how much of an over-achiever she is for the things she actually cares about. As a director, she unleashes a reign of terror on all the kids working with her, and I suspect she also scares her teacher advisor a little bit too. 

On top of that, Rachel has a deep-set loathing of beautiful people, one that is very important because it's 1) her character arc to grow out of this and 2) a major plot point for the development of her film. This attitude blocks and complicates her feelings for Sana and her ability to make the sorts of movies she wants to make, ones that are central to the female experience. 

Rachel's movie is a modernization of The Iliad, and the book focuses heavily on the way that she chooses to tell that story. That story within a story really lays out the larger story and message of the novel effectively. Initially, I thought her topic was super unoriginal and didn't add much, but the way it evolves over the course of the story is awesome, because you realize why it was like that to start with.

As a couple, I really like Sana and Rachel, but this book didn't quite hit the shippy flails point for me. I didn't get enough of a sense of their connection, partially, I think, because of the way the rom-com formula gets used at a few points. Still, this is one of the only f/f ships I've read that is pure fluff, and this book honestly just made me so happy from beginning to end.

If you want an f/f romance that's pure cuteness (and diverse af to boot!), I'd recommend this one highly.
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Sana and Rachel have been enemies ever since freshman year. Sana is a beautiful, perfect cheerleader, while Rachel is a loner film student. They are complete opposites, yet the girls always find themselves connected to each other. After a literal run in, Sana and Rachel are forced to work together on Racheal's final film project. As the two share ideas and get to know each other, their hateful relationship takes a turn. Intense, fun, and romantic, this is a great YA romance featuring lesbian characters.

I really liked that this is a romance first and foremost. Safi does not focus on the fact that it is two girls and doesn't make that the focus. There is no big coming out. There is no conflict based on their sexuality. It is treated as a complete non-issue. So many LGBTQ books are about the character coming out or discovering their sexuality. And those are great too, but I liked that this was just a romance story. The biggest conflict is the girls just getting together and realizing they love one another. It's beautifully written and serious and light at the same time. This definitely earns a spot among other classic YA contemporary romances. 

**I received an e-ARC from Netgalley**
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Was this book perfect? No. Was it overdramatic and a little unrealistic? Of course it was. But did I love every minute of it? Absolutely.

I think that this is a great, feel-good book. It lacked some depth and realism for me, but that doesn't count against it at all. I'm not a huge fan of contemporaries, but I adored this.
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There was a lot I liked about this book, but it never jumped into true love for me. I really really like the premise of this book- the diversity rep is fantastic!- but I never quite connected with the characters as much as I wanted to. Still, this was a worthwhile read, and I would enthusiastically recommend it to any reader who likes contemporary romance, LGBTQ rep, cultural diversity, and soul-searching girls just trying to figure out what they want in the world. Good stuff. The LA setting was nicely depicted.
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I received this e-ARC via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This is absolutely the book for you if you're looking for any of the following: 
- a wlw romance with sizzling chemistry (and banter!)
- two romantic leads with full lives and backstories of their own separate from each other
- a rom-com with some emotional heft to its subplots
- a huge helping of cultural diversity mixed in with musings on feminism

It took me awhile to warm up to this one, but its stellar relationship moments made up for my early hesitation. Not only is this a wonderfully developed contemporary romance between two women on the brink of their first major life decisions as adults, it's also a witty look at how women are both portrayed and treated by media and by society. I was pleasantly surprised by how much Aminah Mae Safi packed into this novel without it ever feeling weighed down by its philosophizing. Every time I thought one character was headed in a tired direction, another character swooped in and showed a more modern way of thinking. This truly felt like a contemporary novel of 2019 in how it treated diversity, feminism, and even Homeric epics!

My critiques here are brief and fairly nit-picky. I felt that the Gilmore Girls inspiration was so on the nose as to be practically fanfiction. Some of the dialogue (especially by Rachel) seemed overblown, not just in a "teenagers don't talk like that" way, but in a "does anyone talk like that?" way. Rachel's character arc felt unresolved to me; this seemed much more like Sana's story than Rachel's in the end. 

The positives here far outweigh the negatives. I'll be recommending this one far and wide to anyone who likes contemporary romance stories.
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Someone really needs to option this book and turn it into a film.

Doesn’t this sound like the perfect setup for a movie? Sana and Rachel are both finishing their senior year in high school. Sana is a pretty, popular, perfect cheerleader, and Rachel is a poor scholarship student who only got into their prestigious school because of her talent for filmmaking. Rachel has hated Sana ever since Sana asked her out as a joke when they were freshmen. But really, the joke is on Rachel, because Sana was serious, and she has been crushing on Rachel for years. When the two of them are forced to collaborate on Rachel’s final film project, Rachel discovers that Sana isn’t who she thought she was. Let the romancing commence!

Both Sana and Rachel are already out to their friends and families, so rather than telling a coming out story, the author is free to focus on their growing feelings for each other. Once they start to connect, Sana and Rachel are very cute together. They have plenty of swoony moments, too, including a movie-worthy scene where Sana serenades Rachel in a karaoke bar.

The book isn’t only a romance, though; it’s also an exploration of who Rachel and Sana want to become as they leave their high school years behind. Rachel has to complete her movie to ensure her scholarship to attend NYU’s film school in the fall, but it takes Sana’s influence to make her see that her approach to filmmaking might need changing, particularly when it comes to how she views and interacts with other people. Meanwhile, after years of maintaining a veneer of perfection, Sana is wondering who she really is when she isn’t trying to please her family. Does she even want the future laid out for her of going to Princeton and becoming a doctor? And if she doesn’t, what does she want?

So, there’s some important growing up stuff happening in this book, along with a fun romance. I thoroughly enjoyed Sana and Rachel’s story, and I’d recommend it to readers who like YA contemporaries with a rom-com feel.

A copy of this book was provided through NetGalley for review; all opinions expressed are my own.
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First—this cover is groundbreaking. Having two women—women of color—in a loving pose on the cover of a YA novel. Its beautiful.

Now for the actual book: this had so much potential! A hate-to-love f/f romance, taking place in Los Angeles? Sounds perfect! And while I did think these were some fascinating characters that had the groundwork to be really compelling, there was a lot that didn’t work for me. The writing at times was very clunky and often extremely repetitive.

This was dual perspective following both Sana and Rachel, which would have been great if the characters got equal representation. I felt like I learned so much about Sana—about her family, her feelings, her relationships—but barely anything about Rachel. Even during the “Rachel” sections, perspective would slip to Sana. They had such great chemistry as they worked through this kind of one sided hate-to-love journey, but I wish there was more focus on Rachel to balance the tons of exposition that was on Sana. And when it did focus on Rachel, she was a very angry girl. This could have been really fun to explore, but all we got was very surface level.  The set up to their relationship is based on a simple misunderstanding that Rachel has fully blown out of proportion. She seemed to be overreacting and quite childish.

Probably too much exposition, to be honest. There were a few instances that seemed like the reader was coming in at the end of a scene, when the two characters are talking about what just happened. I would much rather had seen what happened then to hear the characters talk about it. I felt like this happened a lot with the filming of Rachel’s project. Speaking of Rachel’s project, I still can’t tell you what exactly her movie is supposed to be about other than a modernized version of The Odyssey?

There seem to be plot lines that got dropped as the story went on. At the beginning, Rachel set up a deal with Sana that she had to watch movies of Rachel’s choosing, and they would watch them together. I thought this would be such a great opportunity to see the growth in their relationship as the story progressed. It was done maybe twice and then they were kind of just dropped from the storyline. The two girls really didn’t seem to spend a lot of time together on the page. Then you have the character of Diesel—who I thought was going to have a much larger role in the story. He kind of got dropped almost instantly, only to pop up again for a second 2/3rds of the way through the book.

In all, I think the initial story and these characters had the potential to be a really compelling story, but it was just not executed well. I have Aminah Mae Safi’s debut sitting unread on my shelf, and now I’m doubting whether to read it or not.

I was sent an e-arc from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Who doesn't love an enemies to lovers plot? It is certainly one of my favorite tropes to dive into and Safi most certainly did it justice here. In a time where diverse stories are finally getting to be told, this is an excellent example and is unapologetic about what it is in the most beautiful way. And the Paris/Rory Gilmore Girls inspiration is something we all deserved, and I for one am so thankful to Safi for bringing this story to life. It was everything I hoped it would be and more.
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3.5 stars

Sana Khan is your perfect, put-together cheerleader and overachiever, who wants to be a surgeon and just got accepted into Princeton. But Sana isn't sure she's sold on being a surgeon just yet—she wants to know she can hack it. So she applies to a medical fellowship in India. She's got a month before she has to submit her deposit to Princeton.

Rachel Recht is the brilliant film director at the elite Roycer Academy—but has a chip on her shoulder as a scholarship student, someone who has to battle for the right to attend a fancy school. And she hates Sana Khan, ever since Sana jokingly asked her out in freshman year. But Rachel's senior film is due, and her film teacher has decided Sana is going to be in the film—as the lead—or Rachel's future attendance in NYU is in danger.

Can these two work together?
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I'm honestly torn in how to rate this. At times, I absolutely loved it. Yet it took me what felt like an eternity to get through and seemed to just drag on and on and on with no resolution, leaving me increasing frustrated and constantly checking the time-estimate on my kindle and looking for excuses not to read.

I didn't particularly care for Rachel, although I definitely understood where she was coming from, as a person ashamed of being poor, of having a mother who left and a father who crawled out of a bottle, of feeling insignificant and out of place in the Mexican Jewish community she grew up in. And as someone who hates pretty girls, partly because of her belief that Sana jokingly asked her out, and partly because of the easy road she feels that pretty girls have because of their looks. And as an aspiring director who was a perfectionist and hadn't learned how to motivate or delegate (because what was the point?) I did like that she changed over time, but felt that the impetus was too sudden and her change in temperament, particularly as a director, was too drastic and happened over the course of literally one day.

I did like Sana, but honestly I liked her as juggling her perfect life as cheerleader, overachiever, a person who loved to fly in the air and the strength of her body. I understood her meltdown (good gravy, she had a lot on her shoulders with that family), but again, it felt too sudden and like her family did too little to help. And the parts with her dad felt very uneven and lopsided.

The secondary characters were all fairly one-dimensional (occasionally two), mostly existing to further the two leads' arcs and development. Aside from Sana's mom, they never really seemed to have their own agency. And this was was big cast too, with lots of people on both Rachel's and Sana's sides. It was a lot to juggle and as a result much of the characterization was weak and one-sided. Diesel was basically the hot guy who somehow befriended both girls and talked through each of their feelings and problems but his motivations for doing so were...weird? I dunno.

The other thing that I didn't like was Sana and Rachel's relationship. While I'm generally on board with all things sapphic, I'm also a little leery with the trope of It's Not Gay Without Sex To Prove It™️. Look friends, lesbian sex (and sex in general) happens, it happens in YA, and I'm cool with it (so long as it's not objectifying). What I grow tired of is (and big spoiler here): (view spoiler)

But honestly, I was weary of the book before that moment, and I don't know why other than I just didn't care about the characters. I didn't really care if they stayed together, if Sana got the fellowship, if Rachel didn't finish her big film project. There was something missing to pull me into the story, leaving me to finish it out of a sense of obligation (because ARC—although that doesn't necessarily mean anything) instead of anticipation and fear of what was going to happen next. Maybe it was because I felt that the stakes weren't necessarily high enough, or that 95% of the issues could have been resolved with a little communication (view spoiler) between basically everyone in the story.

I appreciate the book for what it did—fantastic representation, a good depiction of LA (lots of traffic, an interesting look at the film industry), a nice breakdown of being both a cheerleader and the mechanics of filmmaking, some really witty chapter titles, and a nice critique on the double standards placed on women by society at large (juxtaposed with Helen of Troy getting de-objectified).

I also appreciate that this a good look at what it's like being a teen in today's world (well, if you attend a prestigious academy and have lots of opportunities). There's school and sports and activities and college-courses and everything else just to get ahead and get into the dream college. Although apparently if you're Rachel Recht you have a Time-Turner and can do school and direct a film and spend eternity editing and also have a part time diner job all while spending three hours a day commuting to school because this is LA and traffic is a bitch.

Finally, I appreciate the hell out of that cover, because it's about damn time queer girls see themselves represented in sexy poses on a YA cover.

In the end, however, this fell flat to me. 

It wasn't bad, but it wasn't oh wow oh wow oh wow I want to stay in this world forever. It was just okay.

I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review
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I was hooked from the very beginning! This love-to-hate had me rooting for the couple the whole way through. It's refreshing to find joyful LGBTQ YA novels like this.
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