Cover Image: Dear Wendy

Dear Wendy

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Member Reviews

Dear Wendy is about two asexual, aromantic college freshman who run feuding anonymous advice Instagram accounts while also becoming real-life besties. It's a really fun premise, and the representation is important and needed. One of the characters uses she/they pronouns and goes on a bit of a self-discovery journey with gender, while being secure in their identity as an aroace person. This is one of the best parts of the book. These characters know exactly who they are in regards to romantic attraction, and they tell us so at the start of the book. This representation will be so valuable for young readers who feel they fall on the asexual spectrum. I also loved the college setting and it did bring up some intense nostalgia.

My one issue with this is small, and is something I think is typical of writers' debuts, which is how explain-y it felt at times. Sometimes the dialogue felt like an essay on being a-spec and not the normal way two teens would speak about their identity. Still, the author delivered valuable info in these moments. I just think it could've been more natural.

Overall, this was a really lovely story about platonic soulmates, and it fills some gaps in the YA space. It's fun while being important, and hope Ann Zhao has more YA works coming soon!

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Dear Wendy by Ann Zhao is about Sophie and Jo. They become friends during their Women and Gender Studies course at Wellesley College, where they discover they are both aromatic and asexual. What they do not know is that they are also online rivals through their Instagram accounts Dear Wendy and Dear Wanda. College life drama ensues!

I appreciate the ACE representation. This book will be the world to those who feel seen in its pages. It does a great job of breaking down what it means to be ACE, and I feel like I learned. However, after a while the book just felt bogged down by way too much conversation. Whether in class, the dorm rooms, or in their club The Dianas discourse is constantly happening. It began to feel like I was in their WGST class with them getting ready to write my own report. By the end I was having trouble staying in the story. I also felt like an outsider looking in on their life at Wellesley College. It felt like not being in on the inside joke of the whole Wendy/Wanda conflict. Which in and of itself was eye rolling. If I were Sophie, I would have blocked the account and ignored the clear comments that were rage baiting. The whole feud was silly. It is like one of the commenters said, “… they hate each other so much for like no reason???”

Jo is selfish through most of the book. They do not want their friends to date because they do not want to be alone. While not wanting to be alone is a valid feeling, working against your friends’ romantic interests are icky. They say things like, “I just don’t want my friends to date anyone. I don’t really know why. But they can’t” and “I don’t know is Katy likes Lianne. But there’s no way. The whole idea of Lianne being in a relationship is ridiculous to me-doesn’t matter who its with.”

While I liked Sophie more than Jo, Sophie does not get a pass. She was a pretty crappy friend to her friends as well. It got to the point where Priya had to call Sophie out for being on her phone too much obsessing with Wanda’s posts and comments. When asked if she treats Jo the same way Sophie says no to which Priya responds with, “Just because we’ve been friends with you longer doesn’t mean we deserve less respect.” Girl yes. While I would be glad to see the “Wendy/Wanda” feud fizzle out I do hope Sophie keep up her account. Her reason for creating Dear Wendy was ultimately noble. She never really got back answers to her questions about identity in a satisfactory manner. So, she tries to be for others what she needed. She stays up to date on self-help relationship literature and becomes a “repository of dating advice” for others even if dating is not something of interested.

I will end here on a positive note. I loved how the focus of the book was overall on friendships and platonic love, despite the background dating drama of roommates. I agree with what was said in the books that there should be more stories for teens that focus on friendships and that friendship breakups are hard and not discussed enough. They do indeed suck.

Thank you Netgalley for an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. This will be going on my list of books to recommend even though I thought it was just okay.

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What are you reading this weekend?

I just finished reading Dear Wendy by @annzhao_, which earned a five-star rating from me! Today is my stop on @coloredpagesbt’s bookstagram tour celebrating Dear Wendy’s upcoming release date! Dear Wendy will be coming out this Tuesday, April 16th, from @fiercereads and you won’t want to miss out on this fabulous asexual and aromantic young adult debut novel!

Dear Wendy is an aromantic, asexual love story about the beautiful love that exists between best friends. Though I read as many books with ace-spec representation as I can find, I haven’t read a book quite like this one before. Mixed into the funny, original plot was plenty of thoughtful exploration of what it means to be aromantic, asexual, or on the ace spectrum. Sophie and Jo were compelling protagonists, and their love story will stay with me for a long time!

There were a lot of very specific references to Wellesley College that I likely wouldn’t have understood, but the author did a great job establishing situational context by explaining the campus setting. As it is, I feel as though some part of me has now visited this school, given how integral the setting is to the plot of Dear Wendy.

Also, I need to comment on how much I adore the cover art for Dear Wendy! The use of the ace and aro pride flags as a color scheme for the art is a subtle and beautiful nod to the book’s representation. The cover art was illustrated by @betsy.cola and designed by @jbianchi_illustrations- I’m officially obsessed with both of their accounts!

My Recommendation:
If you love contemporary YA novels and want to read more books with aroace representation, grab a copy of Dear Wendy! This book was a funny, quick, and enjoyable read!

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This is the book, I wish I had growing up. As I was reading, it made me feel seen as no book has before, it was so relatable in a way no other book has been and it made me feel so valid and understood. This truly felt like a love letter to aroace people, and it was amazing seeing a beautiful friendship centered story.

I love how it uses so many romcom elements but in a platonic way, and how it is a love story and introduces queer platonic relationships. Dear Wendy was so fun to read, there were some chapter that made me laugh out loud, but it was also so introspective at a times, it was like I was reading some of the thoughts I’ve had in all these years since I figured that I was a-spec like the MCs.

This is such an especial book that will leave you feeling warm, loved and welcomed, no matter what you identify as there is a character that is relatable in this book, and I loved the dynamics and found family aspect of it. Combining an entertaining Instagram feud, the friendships and dramas of a liberal college, this book was a delight to read.

With its short chapters and fast pace you will devour this book. It’s the perfect love story for when you are looking for one that is different from all the rest. And let’s start a petition because we need more friendship books!

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As an ace reader (although not aroace) I loved this book. Although I think we’re seeing it a little more, it’s still hard to find books that don’t center romance, and harder still to find book with accurate ace representation.

It’s hard to put into typed words why I liked this book, it can be so hard to explain to people the joys and necessity of platonic love, I think this book could be a great gateway to that, as well as resonating with readers who already understand. This book is a great example of a mirror and window (per Dr. Ruidine Sims Bishop)!

I’ve already purchased this book for my library and I’m loving sharing it with readers!

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Another perfectly fine novel that really didn't hook me! I don't think this is a bad book, it just didn't work for me. Again, since I didn't love it and queer fiction is a hardsell at my store, this isn't something I'm likely to stock for us. I do love the concept though! This is the first asexuality focused novel I've ever seen, and I'm thrilled to see more ace representation in literature.

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Listen, I love a good queer romance story, but you know what I think I might love more? The complexity and understanding that this book has towards AroAce love stories. full send.

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I loved this book. I have always wanted a platonic love story that celebrates the connection between friends, and this is it!

While the writing at times is a little clunky, the emotion of the story and the relationships between all the characters makes up for it. It is sincere, gentle, and shows the wonder, love and complexities of the friendships, familial relationships, and romantic relationships that surround Jo and Sophie. The relationship between Jo and Sophie made me grin, laugh and cry. They compliment and constant each other so well. Seeing two best friends be each other's person, while also having a wonderful support system around them was so beautiful to see.
Thank you Netgalley and the publishers for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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as a fellow aroace, this book was everything i needed to read when i was younger and first figuring out my identity. the simplicity in which almost everyone around the main characters just accepts their identities, the conversations about platonic love being just as important and impactful as romantic love, the various stages of acceptance, and (as a girlie who is also from Massachusetts) Massachusetts love and appreciation.
jo and sophie are such important characters, and i loved getting to watch their love grow through the book. im so lucky that i have a handful of fellow a-spec/aro-spec friends, so their relationship feels so special to me.

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This was truly one of my most anticipated books of the year and I’m still reeling a bit at the times where it felt like this book was in my brain. As an aspec person (on both sides), there are very few books that I read that feel like they get me when it comes to relationships, platonic or romantic, and so to have this book have two ace aro characters who had some of the exact same thoughts that I have all the time felt bizarre in the best way. I also just personally had fun with a book set at Wellesley as someone who has friends there (and lowkey now wishes I had applied). There are a lot of great conversations about queerness and gender and relationships and also it’s just a fun YA book of two characters figuring out more about themselves!

It’s a little hard to talk about why exactly I liked this book so much because part of that is how much it felt like it understood me. It’s a book that’s aware that there aren’t a lot of stories of ace aro people in the mainstream, and even of characters that don’t fully fit into ideas of being queer in multiple ways. And although I’m not a freshman like Sophie and Jo, I’m not too far from those experiences, and it just felt so real to me.

But there’s also just the general queerness, the fact that there’s really only about one cis male character in the entire story, and sapphic characters young and old. And of course there’s the hilarity of the beef between Wendy and Wandy via their instagram advice accounts, and everything else that built up the plot of a friendship between two aspec characters. It’s not just a story about being aspec, but that is the part that makes it so special, and why I absolutely recommend it. It’s a little ridiculous at times, but sometimes that’s the best part.

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Ann Zhao’s DEAR WENDY is a heartfelt love letter to Wellesley College in the form of a young adult novel. Sophie and Jo—two aroace students—remind readers about the power of platonic love amongst friends and the importance of finding your queer community. Listening to the audiobook of their story felt less like I was reading a novel and more like I was hearing my friends’ casual queer college drama, told to me from both sides. A lighthearted delightful read!

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I've never read a friendship love story OR an ace book before, so I throughly enjoyed this book! I was able to relate to this book a lot, especially about the whole friend group being queer and neurodivergent thing...yeah...same.
There were some moments that felt a little too chronically online but it was still a fun fast paced read.
I had the pleasure of even meeting this author at a different authors signing!
Thanks Netgalley for the eArc!

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- DEAR WENDY, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
- This book is in some ways a modern retelling of You’ve Got Mail, but starring two aroace college students.
- I didn’t attend Wellesley, but I did attend a women’s college, and whew! The accuracy! The mess! The love!
- It’s so, so wonderful how this is not a romantic love story, not a will-they-won’t-they story, not a maybe-they’ll-fall-in-romantic-love-anyway story. It’s a platonic love story, full stop, and it’s beautiful.
- I loved that this book begins with both Sophie and Jo already knowing they are aroace. I do love a coming out/discovering yourself YA novel, but I love this too. Both characters are still working out what this identity means for them, but they know it to be true and they never waver in it.

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Dear Wendy was the best hug. Featuring dual POV, it's an opposites, rivals, to friendship. A testament to the idea that we have more in common with our rivals than we might think. It's also a book which celebrates the feeling of knowing we aren't alone. That there are people who feel the same as we do, people who know how it feels. Featuring aromantic and asexual representation, Dear Wendy explores themes of representation, queer erasure, and the allosexual and alloromantic nature of society.

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Rating: 3.5/5
I thoroughly enjoyed this one, it’s so nice to see aro-ace rep in books and I thought the representation was done remarkably well!
Pros:
-I really liked all of the characters and how we got to see dual perspectives
-I liked the way the ending wrapped up
Cons:
-I found the writing style to be a bit too simplistic at times and lots of the terms were educational telling, rather than showing.

Overall I would highly recommend this to fans of Loveless or those looking to find more a-spec rep!

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DEAR WENDY by Ann Zhao is the book my students have wanting for years! I've been so busy recommending the book, I didn't realize I had not written a review. For teens--and even adults--who identify on the aro and/or ace spectrum, this is a must read. Not because it's one of the few books featuring aroace characters; because it's a good book. The characters are richly developed with strong, distinctive voices (even in the narrative) and interesting individual storylines. The author handles the dual POV quite well and keeps the secondary characters distinctive. I highly recommend this book to everyone; it's a great read. I can't wait to see what Ann Zhao writes next.

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thank you so much to netgalley, colored pages blog tours and fierce reads for the early copy in exchange for an honest review!!

I HAVE BEEN NEEDING THIS BOOK MY ENTIRE LIFE OMGGGGGGGGGGGG
i don't think i've ever read a story where so many aspects of our normal life are put into perspective. what makes us attractive, the importance of all kinds of love, the a-spec online discourse and why some people don't consider asexual and aromantic people part of the LGBT+ community, the fear of being alone while the rest of your friends meet The One, why is it so hard for the diaspora to find their place in the world... nanana, i had no idea i would come to rethink my entire life and the way i perceive things. plus, it was so enjoyable to read from Sophie and Jo's perspective: i love how one saw the other as super perfect while that other views themselves as not perfect at all. plus THE SETTING?? THIS COLLEGE REALLY EXISTS??? WHY DIDN'T I KNOW OF IT????
just amazing. super fun and fast paced. amazing side characters. perfect setting. i loved every single thing from it and i hope it helps more a-spec people 😭💜😭💜

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This book took me SUCH a long time to get through, omg. I have mixed feelings on it! As an aroace person, I've loved seeing more aroace lit pop up over the last several years. I think Dear Wendy is an important addition to the canon. We. Need. More. Platonic. Love. Stories. I'd especially recommend it to allo (non-aro/ace) and baby aroace people who are just discovering and trying to make sense of their identities. But if you've been in the aroace space for a while, you might not feel like this book was written for you (which is okay, of course!). I'm someone who grew up on aroace tumblr, so many of the conversations that took place between Sophie and Jo, our two MCs, in this book were very reminiscent of that. The conflict felt childish for 18-year-old college students, tbh. That's probably why it took me so long to read and I found myself kinda bored, lol. I didn't feel like there was enough plot to keep this book moving. I can't pinpoint exactly why, but the MCs didn't feel fully fleshed out and instead felt one-dimensional. Sophie and Jo are initially presented as polar opposites (Wanda and Wendy), but I often found it hard to distinguish between their two voices. Sometimes I thought I was in Jo's POV, but I was actually in Sophie's, and vice versa.

I especially related to Jo's worry about being left behind when all their friends eventually settle down with romantic partners. Even as someone who has come to terms with, and is now proud of, my aroace identity, I STILL feel this way about my friends. My best friend might come first in my life, but will I come first in hers now that she has a partner? Which maybe is a silly concern, but it's natural to think that way. Being aroace can feel really lonely.

Anyways, I liked this but didn't LOVE it. I can accept it wasn't written FOR me, as an "established" (?) aroace person (haha).

A big thank you to Feiwel & Friends for the advanced copy of this book. All thoughts are my own!

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This is probably one of the best contemporary debuts of the year, a not-love story between two aromantic and asexual women that prioritizes the importance and joy of platonic love. <3

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Sweet, sometimes silly, and always earnest, Dear Wendy is a platonic love story--an arom-com, if you will (aromantic comedy, yep, just made that term up)--sure to delight fans of ace stories, internet drama, and the complex mess that is finding yourself in college. You might say that, if Loveless is the perfect book for someone *realizing* they're aroace, Dear Wendy is the perfect book for someone who *knows* they're aroace but is still figuring out life.
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This book was so darn sweet, and it highlights how identity is inherently multifaceted, and how love does not have to mean just one thing. Sophie and Jo may have the same aroace label, but their experiences of it are vastly different: Sophie is comfortable with who she is but struggles with the intersection of her queerness and diaspora as her parents don't really accept her asexuality; Jo's parents fully embrace their sexual identity, but she is having a mini gender crisis and is anxious that she'll end up alone forever when her friends find romantic partners (and, as someone who has also had that anxiety when I first realized I was aro as well as ace, I could totally relate). The two complement each other in this way, and in many others, providing a valuable sounding-board for each other as they talk about various topics in ace discourse--exclusionists, the right to claim a label, poor ace rep in media, amatonormativity, and more--and ultimately forge their own platonic love story.
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This is also clearly a book that the author has rooted her heart in. It keenly captures that "first year of liberal arts college" vibe, the mixture of anxiety and excitement and exploration, the way little things can seem like such big deals, the trappings of student life like extracurriculars and office hours and choosing which dining hall to go to and, yes, weird social media account trends that the whole student body somehow knows. The novel is additionally peppered with indirect references to other actual books--I counted 12, stay tuned for a reel where I decipher them all--which feel like a nice little insider reference for book nerds everywhere.
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There were just two hangups I had with this book, and both are pretty small. One was that, though it covers a lot of topics in ace discourse, it doesn't really delve into those topics, or explore them fully. Instead, it's a lot of Sophie and Jo saying to each other, "I know, right?" (or something along those lines). It still reaches a message of acceptance and love, but it sometimes felt like an attempt to make a cursory pass at as many big ace topics as possible, without really doing much with them, and in the process it shortchanges some important conversations. The other quibble, and maybe it's just me, was that the characters laughed a lot...at things that weren't very funny? Maybe it just wasn't quite my brand of humor, I'm not sure. I did laugh, though, at a scene where a side character "comes out" as straight.
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All told, this book is a love letter to bookworms, liberal arts schools, platonic connections, and the aspec communities. Definitely recommended for anyone who wants more ace rep (especially intersectional ace rep!), and for folks who love a good friendship story.

Rep: Chinese American aroace MC, gender-questioning aroace MC of Jewish descent, sapphic Black SC, sapphic Indian SC, sapphic demisexual Chinese American SC, sapphic Latina SC, bisexual SC, other queer and BIPOC SCs
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TW/CW: acephobia/arophobia

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