Cover Image: Dear Wendy

Dear Wendy

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Member Reviews

Thank you to the publisher & Netgalley for letting me read & review this book!

The fact that books are being published now with Aro/Ace characters makes me so happy-the idea that you could opt out of relationships at that age wasn't even on my radar. There are a lot of subjects covered in the story that, of course, relate to that. What does this mean for me, what does this mean for my future, etc. As for the book and storyline, I enjoyed it overall. I liked the characters, and the plot was fun. It did drag a bit for me sometimes, but never so much that I set the book down and didn't come back to it. Overall, a pleasant read.

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ace representation!!!! this book was really great and I loved the college environment and aroace identities! It was a really great read and I loved the writing

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So precious and heartwarming! The most beautiful platonic love story that will have your heart bursting with joy. This book is a breathtaking celebration of friendship and it’s about finding your community of people who see and embrace you, while also being a safe and welcoming space for all readers.

Too often when you hear the phrase “find your person” it’s paired with notions of romantic love and affection, but that is such a limited point of view. “Your person” can be your other half, your partner, the first one you want to text or call with news… but it doesn’t have to be exclusively within the confines of a romantic relationship. I adored how friendship was the core of this book and how this was a beautiful celebration of love between best friends.

There were so many touching moments that were delivered with honesty, heart, and a dash of humor that will resonate so deeply and I truly feel like many readers will find a home within Zhao’s story and Jo and Sophie’s character.

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This is a story about the many paths to finding yourself.  Sophie Chi is a first year student at a liberal arts college.  She feels like a minor disappointment to her parents, who wanted her to attend a more prestigious school and have never really accepted her aroace identity.  Her favorite part of college is running an anonymous advice account on Instagram, where she takes advantage of all the research she has done into relationships and communication.  Other than her roommate and her best friend from home (who happens to be dating her roomate), no one knows that Sophie is behind the increasingly popular account.

Across campus, Joanna “Jo” Ephron, a fellow first year, is also trying to find her place at school.  Other than her two roommates, Jo has made few friends.  An aroace, she has constant anxiety that her friends will start dating, fall in love, and abandon her.  One day, she decides to create her own, snarky anonymous advice account.  And soon Jo's account and Sophie's account are engaged in an escalating rivalry.

At the same time, Sophie and Jo meet in one of their classes and hit it off.  Even though they have quite different personalities, they realize they have a lot in common.  As they grow increasingly close and work together to launch a new student organization for other a-spec students, their online alter egos are engaged in an increasingly bitter back-and-forth, even though neither knows the other's secret identity.  Having finally found another person who truly understands them, what will happen to Sophie and Jo's friendship if they each learn who is behind the rival advice account?

I really enjoyed the book.  It is a creative and modern take on You've Got Mail.  The author does a terrific job of depicting both why Sophie and Jo are drawn to each other in real life and why they each, for their own reasons, feel the need to continually escalate their online rivalry.  With nuance and insight, the book also deftly portrays how Sophie and Jo navigate their identities, including with their families, friends, and their hopes and fears for the future.

Highly recommended!

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This book is exactly the kind of book needed for members of the aspec community. The discourse surrounding aspec identities was phenomenal. I think teens (and adults) everywhere would benefit from reading this one.

I will say that some of the conflict seemed a little drawn out and immature, but the rest of the book more than makes up for that.

Will definitely be recommending this one!

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Dear Wendy perfectly encapsulates why non romantic relationships, from friendship to family, are some of the most important connections in our lives. Throughout the novel, Sophie and Jo develop a beautiful connection with each other while maintaining strong bonds with their respective friends and family. It’s refreshing to read a story focused on these vital human relationships without centering romance.

Additionally the queer representation in this novel is expansive and feels grounded in reality. Dear Wendy adds to the lexicon of queer media, particularly portraying aroace representation in a positive and authentic way. We at the BGE podcast highly recommend Dear Wendy as a fun and important story everyone should read!

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this is a platonic love story.

I kinda feel like I have been out as aroace too long to be having this much of an existential crisis.

Y'all. This book. You need it.

I finished this book like 1 minute ago and I'm kind of speechless honestly. I laughed and cried and contemplated my entire existence throughout the 5-hour audiobook experience and now I don't know what's going on. So for right now I'm going to keep it short and sweet and say that you absolutely need to read this book no matter what. I feel like we get a lot or a decent chunk of books that have platonic plot lines or no romance within the sci-fi and fantasy genres of bookstagram but there is still a serious need for these stories in contemporary books. As someone who gravitates a lot more to contemporary stories, I loved this book so so much.

I cannot thank @coloredpagesbt enough for hosting this book tour, @fiercereads for providing me with a final copy and to @annzhao_ for writing such a phenomenal book.

I'm going to leave you with one of my favorite quotes 💚💜

"when you’re asexual or aromantic or both, to accept your sexuality, you have to accept that you’re probably going to question it for a really long time, and possibly the rest of your life. Because there’s that part of your brain that goes, like, who’s to say it can never happen, right? What if that person made me nervous because I like them, what if liking romcoms makes me—sorry, what if it means I want that for myself. Or …or what if I’m an extremely late bloomer? It’s so hard to prove a lack of something, much harder than to prove something exists. So those thoughts might never go away. They haven’t for me, and I’ve identified as aroace for almost five years. But you know yourself. And you know the way you feel. So …let those thoughts run their course. They’re not real unless you make them real, but they’ll happen, and you just need to accept that they’ll be a part of you, but they don’t define you.”

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Dear Wendy is about two students at Wellesley who both give relationship/life advice anonymously on instagram to their fellow students. But one in a sincere and thorough way (Sophie) and the other in a sarcastic and funny way (Jo). They quickly become rivals, while becoming friends in real life. They’re also both aroace (aromantic and asexual).

This felt like a nod to many of the romcoms of my life growing up, (Jo’s last name is even Ephron!) but in a platonic friendship way. The main story is inspired by You’ve Got Mail.

I loved that the main message of this book was that you don’t need a romantic relationship to have love and fulfillment in your life. How important friendships and the feeling of belonging can be, and how love is not reserved just for romance. This is good to internalize not just for aromantic people but alloromantics as well. I loved how much the two main characters cared about each other, and their budding friendship felt genuine. It also showed how much finding people who are similar to you can make you feel accepted in a special way.

I also really appreciated all the different representations in the book, both a-spec and not. There were trans characters, sapphic characters, demisexual and so on. Sophie has known she’s aroace for a while but for Jo it’s much newer. This offers nuanced takes into navigating a world that often prioritizes romance.

There were two main aspects I didn’t enjoy. But I don’t want that to take away from the fact that it’s also a very valuable book to read and exist. I’d highly recommend this book, especially if you wouldn’t be bothered by the following.

My main issue with it is how much Jo is working against her friends for most of the book. Friendships are incredibly important to me, which is why I greatly appreciated the importance the book gives friendships, but I hated Jo for their thoughts and actions for most of the book. (small spoiler) They do eventually own up to the fact that they messed up, and I think their feelings do make sense with them coming to terms with their aroace identity, but it was painful for me to read those parts.

The other thing I didn’t love was their online feud. Especially when it was more one sided, it genuinely felt like bullying and made me very uncomfortable to root for the character(s). Not cute, not funny, just rude. I would have immediately blocked them.

There are other aspects of this book I could nitpick, like some conversations that could have gone a bit deeper, how the third act breakup was unnecessary, but these were smaller issues that didn’t impact my overall enjoyment.

Thank you to Macmillan Books, Feiwel and Friends and NetGalley for the eARC!

Rating: 3.6⭐

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I loved the story, the world building and meeting the different characters. I felt completely immersed in the story and couldn't stop reading it.

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I am so disappointed that I couldn't end up loving this book.

Honestly, as an ownvoice reviewer, I can say that the aro-ace representation gets a 10/10. I think Dear Wendy absolutely knocks it out of the park with the discussions on asexuality and aromanticism and the intersection of those identities as well. It goes deep into what it truly means to be on the ace-spectrum and I truly love it from the bottom of my heart for that.

I could really connect with Sophie (I'm a complete type A like her) and the Wellesley experience in the book at least, felt very similar to my university experience. Unfortunately, apart from that, everything went downhill.

At its core, this book brings up important and thought-provoking topics around gender, sexuality, immigrant children, bipocs and many such themes but it feels like the book is just that. It reads like a discussion happening in a college class where people are trying to get all their points across as quickly as possible. Or an essay converted into a fictional story. That's to say, there's very little life to the story on its own. There is no such plot or plot structure which becomes incredibly frustrating because the entire book is based on the Wendy and Wanda Instagram beef which is extremely childish, nonsensical and boring.

I was just so bored reading this book. The main characters sound so same, I literally couldn't differentiate between their POVs. The humour seemed forced, and oh my god, I got sick of all the Wellesley details. It's clear the author loves her university but I think the details could have been cut way back down.

The third act confrontation was kind of predictable and I was so annoyed with Jo by that point because of what they'd been doing regarding their roommates. Granted I knew the source of their actions was a deep-rooted fear but at that point, I was ready for the book to be over. It still did not end, there were like fifty pages more that I skimmed through.

Do I recommend this book?
Um I think yes? I still stand by the fact that the aro-ace rep is so tremendously wonderful and refreshing and I crawled through the book for it and it was kind of worth it. And it does seem like I'm in the minority here when it comes to enjoying the plot and narrative so maybe you'll end up enjoying it.

But yeah, as much as I loved the aro-ace rep, this wasn't it for me.

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I absolutely adored this book. The characters are funny and very relatable. I especially appreciated the aspec (asexual and aromantic spectrum) representation. It is so hard to find authentic aspec representation that isn't just caricatures of stereotypes, and even harder to find good representation in a main character (let alone TWO). While reading, I found myself pleasantly surprised to see myself represented in these characters. I never had this type of asexual and aromantic representation growing up and I am immensely glad that more representation is being written now. Some parts of the book were a bit painfully similar to some of my experiences, which was a strange experience. It made me realize just how much I haven't had this before.

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What’s better than a romcom? A story about friendship in the style of a romcom. Dear Wendy checks off so many boxes that it’s actually eerie: aro/ace protagonists, supportive secondary cast, plenty of humour, and a compassionate story to its core. This was one of my most-anticipated books of 2024, and that does not surprise me. I received an eARC from NetGalley and publisher Feiwel & Friends in exchange for a review.

Sophie and Jo are both aromantic and asexual students at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. They meet and befriend one another in their introductory women’s studies course. However, they have something else in common in addition to sexual orientation: each is behind an anonymous Instagram account for relationship advice. Sophie has been running the “Dear Wendy” account for several months, and Jo recently started up “Sincerely, Wanda” as an acerbic Dear Wendy spoof that inadvertently gained its own following. As the two students navigate college life, friendship, and being young aro/ace people in a sea of horny roommates and peers, Sophie and Jo bond while their alter egos feud. What could possibly go wrong?

To say that I love this setup, with its implicit promise of romcom-level misunderstandings and hope for reconciliation, would be an understatement. Although romance isn’t my favourite genre, I have nothing against it, and I actually enjoy a good romcom. But comedies that privilege friendship tend to be quirky buddy comedies. Dear Wendy joins a handful of other stories I can recall that give us a romcom-like story arc to a platonic relationship (shout-out to the Canadian indie film Almost Adults as another example).

To say that I felt seen as an aroace woman with this book is also an understatement. I kept comparing myself to each of the two protagonists, alternatively at times identifying more with Sophie or Jo (but, if I am being honest with myself, I am a total Sophie!). While a lot about each character is different from my story (I’m not the child of immigrants; I don’t have two moms; I never went to an American college, let alone a historically “women’s” college like Wellesley), those details don’t matter as much as the vibes present here. Plus, like these two, I am that aroace always giving her friends relationship advice—seriously.

But most importantly, I know what it is like to watch my friends hook up, pair off, find a romantic soulmate, and wonder what’s out there for me. I know what it is like to question my gender. And I know what it’s like to be confident in my identity but have others (not my parents, thank goodness, but plenty of other people) tell me it’s just a phase or something I will get over once I find “the right person” (it’s not, and I won’t).

All of this is to say that many aro/ace readers are going to see parts of themselves in Sophie and Jo, and it’s lovely.

But I think I need to speak to allo readers (those of you who experience sexual or romantic attraction) for a moment. I don’t want to give the impression that this book is only for aro/ace readers. If anything, I think it is more important for allo readers to pick up Dear Wendy, and I think you will enjoy it too.

First, so many of the best parts of this book are only tangentially related to Sophie and Jo’s queer identities. Zhao suffuses this book with nonstop gags and powerful scenes of female friendship. Whether it’s Sophie bonding with her women’s studies prof, Jo spending time with their roommates, or the two of them hanging out and watching a movie (until Jo disturbs Sophie by breaking down and crying, lol), Dear Wendy is pitch-perfect new adult storytelling. It’s about two young people finding their independence in college, getting super excited about dumb shit and important stuff alike, making mistakes, and picking themselves back up after they fall down. It’s beautiful.

Second, I love how the conflict in this story is so mellow. Everyone around Sophie and Jo is just so damn supportive, and it is the kind of wholesome energy I need in April 2024. All of the conflict in this book comes from realistic misunderstandings and behaviour that makes sense for young college students. When everything inevitably blows up in Sophie and Jo’s friendship, it blows up in a sensible way, the drama far from melodramatic. There are no larger-than-life villains in this book. Even Sophie’s relationship with her aphobic mother is a nuanced one.

Zhao has somehow managed to capture what it’s like to live in an aphobic (and, more broadly, queerphobic) society without including overt instances of aphobia, homophobia, transphobia, etc. Maybe this is a consequence of the inclusive setting of Wellesley—which, as Sophie and Jo discover, is far from perfect but seems to be a refreshing bubble of acceptance. There are no moustache-twirling queerphobes here. (The dearth of cis straight male characters in the book might also have something to do with this, but I was even expecting one of the female characters to take off her mask and reveal she was secretly a TERF or aphobe or something, and it never happens.)

Which brings me to the final reason I need allo readers to devour Dear Wendy: I need you to see happy, well-adjusted aro/ace characters in fiction. Yeah, Sophie has some friction with her parents, and Jo has their moments of struggling with what their sexuality means for their future. At the end of the day, though, they are no more or less happy than their allo peers. (If anything, they both embody the sheer relief I often feel as my friends recount their relationship problems to me, and all I can think is, “That sounds exhausting. Couldn’t be me!”) Dear Wendy, with its subversion of romantic tropes to deliver us an HEA predicated upon platonic values, is a daring form of resistance to compulsory sexuality.

At this point you might be thinking, “Kara, of course you’re going to give this book five stars because you are incredibly biased.” And, reader, you might be right (but whomst among us is not?). Except that when I look back at my asexual-themed reads, I find that I actually tend to be quite critical. So instead of taking this rating and review with a grain of salt, view it as what it is: a full-throated and unabashed endorsement of an aro/ace-themed novel that gets it. And no, Dear Wendy cannot be everything to every aro/ace reader. Sophie and Jo are but two characters, of a particular age, following a particular plot. We continue to need a plethora of diverse aro/ace stories, and many of those won’t work for me.

But this one does. Oh, does it ever. If I could have a platonic life partnership with this book, I would.

I will never walk down an aisle towards the partner of my dreams. I will probably never live with anyone else. I am in my thirties, and my friends are pairing up and having children, and I feel like a movie character caught in a time-lapse effect where they stand still while the background extras turn into motion blurs around them. Being aro/ace can be incredibly lonely at times. But it can also feel incredibly freeing. Dear Wendy explores both of these truths, and it does so with incredible grace and no small amount of wisdom.

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I was SOOOOO excited for this one. I was promised Ace rep and it did not disappoint.
If you were looking for a platonic love story combined with an Instagram feud, here you go. If you didn't know you wanted that, you totally do. This story SCREAMS 'Historically women's college' in all the undercurrents. Which was fun and interest and a little borderline confusing for me. I love a dual POV and this one was great for me!

I really enjoyed this ace rep and was so excited to see this book exist. I definitely will recommend this to friends!

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There are two things this book had that made me really wish I’d had it in high school, a college setting and aroace rep! I have been floating somewhere in the asexual abyss since realizing I was not having crushes like my peers as a kid. Idk if I’ll ever figure out where exactly I am on it, but reading books like this makes me feel a lot less alone and validated. Also college was terrifying to me in high school and this would’ve made it less scary. More YA books set in college & more aroace please! Another fun thing I liked in this book was we get an identity reveal!

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Do you know how difficult it is to find ace representation in books? Let alone a main character? Written well?

Make that TWO ace main characters, with such authentic voice!

Jo and Sophie are the best. Depth of character, true to real life, with all the angst and laughter you can imagine. And of course, don't forget the #FoundFamily of best friends!

"You know, I was wondering the same thing. How do you make yourself look like you're not straight?"
"I don't know, honestly. It's about owning your terrible outfits."
"I don't know, it's more of your general aura."
"At the end of the day, you just wear what you want to wear."

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After Sophie Chi gives her roommate some good advice, it’s suggested she do the same for others. Sophie takes the idea seriously and goes about “restoring balance in people’s lives as a neutral third-party observer” via an Instagram advice account called “Dear Wendy.” She spends much of her limited free time working on her posts, and it becomes one of her favorite activities.

Joanna Ephron starts her own account, “Sincerely Wanda,” as a tongue-in-cheek joke for one of her/their roommates after she ended a terrible relationship. It’s a parody account she’s surprised people follow, but Sincerely Wanda evolves into a fun and irreverent alternative to Dear Wendy’s earnest seriousness.

When Sophie learns of the Sincerely Wanda account, she’s upset and reaches out to Jo to suss out the situation. Jo immediately finds Sophie’s cautious overture as “passive-aggressive bullsh!t,” and starts antagonizing “Wendy” on her posts. Sophie finds “Wanda” rude and unserious. She tries to shake off her annoyance, but soon she’s returning shots. As their online skirmishes become a ridiculous battle, in the real world Jo and Sophie bond over being aroace. They find joy in someone who personally understands the frustrations of their asexuality and aromanticism being swallowed by the belief that romantic, allosexual love is the ideal for a fulfilled life. Soon their friendship blossoms into a deep trust and honesty neither expected, but treasure nonetheless. However, when both accounts give questionable advice due to a complication, their online identities are in danger of being compromised, and the situation may explode their friendship as well.

Dear Wendy is a charming, comedic, and didactic love story about platonic love from a debut author. The novel is steeped in college culture, particularly the unique experience of matriculating at an all-women’s institution. Through the eyes of the two first-year students, it tackles societal attitudes and strictures, and their effects on gender, sexuality, being a person of color, misogyny, etc. to varying degrees of depth (and success) within a conversational narrative structure. By her own admission Jo is selfish and lacks empathy, but she’s also a vulnerable hot mess that forms an unlikely friendship with the confident, outwardly put-together and overly competitive Sophie. The book has a good cast of delightfully queer characters discovering themselves through romantic goings-on, camaraderie, and unconditional care and encouragement.

For Sophie that encouragement does not come from her parents. They expect her to conform to their idea of success—an education at a “gold standard” institution like Harvard, a respectable job, and marriage and children. They are disappointed she chose Wellesley and completely dismiss her romantic disinterest. Sophie’s achievements and needs are largely shaped by and in opposition to being first generation Chinese-American. She is high strung, exacting, and fastidious, in part because of her desire to honor her parents’ sacrifices. Knowing she will never be subjected to hardships like theirs, she feels guilty for complaining, but is hurt and disappointed that they negate her asexuality and aromanticism. To Sophie, Dear Wendy provides the objective and open-minded help she wishes to receive from her parents. She treats the account like a professional responsibility, so she considers Sincerely Wanda not only careless and unhelpful, but a personal affront. Her competitive nature turns Wanda from someone making fun of her, to an archnemesis trying to undermine her.

For Jo, Sincerely Wanda is a persona, a form of escape. She can ignore her conflicted feelings regarding her abhorrence of dating and how fiercely she hates it when her friends participate. She can ignore her conflicted feelings about her gender identity, and she can ignore her conflicted worries about ending up alone and wishing for the “normal” experience of romantic partnership. For all her bravado and nonchalance, Jo is VERY insecure. She believes she’s an unformed disaster and questions everything about herself, including her importance to her friends. Her thoughts typically end in the ‘does she/them even like me’ category. Between her insecurity and fear of losing friends to The One, she’s a bundle of anxiety, doubt, and angst. Jo has no trust in herself or her lovability, and Wanda allows her to be confident and devil-may-care.

Sophie wears her insecurity about losing allosexual friends and being judged for her various identities differently than Jo and is less accepting of them. Despite her unhappiness on the parental front, she’s self-assured and believes she’s figured herself out. However, she’s not as self-aware as she thinks. She advises Jo not care about others’ opinions and assures Jo she’s beyond all that, but Sophie cares a great deal about how she presents to the world, not being taken seriously, and not being the best in all her pursuits.

Besides having opposite personalities, their nascent journeys to their aroace identities are also opposite. Sophie receives no approval or acceptance from her parents other than for her extremely high standards and work ethic, while Jo is supported in every way. Jo has an open and outwardly loving relationship with her moms who do everything in their power to nurture Jo. Jo and Sophie illustrate the variability of lived experiences among those with shared identities and the complications of intersectionality that shape who they are, how they see the world, and what helps inform how they understand being aroace.

This dualism conveys the motif of people containing multitudes and the shortsightedness of relegating people to boxes (even oneself). Their differences bring more balance to their extreme traits and provides opportunities for growth. This dualistic approach is quite on the nose, but the characters are developed and likeable enough that the strict duality didn’t hinder my enjoyment. The one place it isn’t cultivated as equally is with their other pressing identity concern—Jo’s struggle with her gender expression and Sophie being Chinese-American. I wish there was a bit more exploration of this aspect of Jo’s existential crisis. I feel like Sophie’s issues are interwoven into the entire narrative, but Jo’s is addressed early on and only given passing commentary a few times.

Additionally, these (ironically) binary personalities, combined with the writing style, create the book’s main weakness for me. Often the story feels like a lecture; it’s as if I’m taking their gender studies class as well. It’s an interesting lecture to be sure, but a scholastic endeavor in my nonrom-com nonetheless. The book is also a bit overlong, like that professor who always goes overtime. I do find these aspects balanced enough with the deep and sometimes vulnerable conversations to (mostly) flow with the educational vibes. Besides, how many of us philosophized and waxed poetic about our recently obtained knowledge between classes?

I enjoyed Dear Wendy and found it a delightful and heartwarming combination of intense focus on petty nonsense and a thoughtful and engaging journey into self-discovery. Plus, that cover is absolute perfection!

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I really struggled with getting through this one. I can't parse whether it's because I've largely moved on from YA or whether it was inherent to the book. I'm a senior in college about to graduate and 20, so I felt like this book could still be a fit for my interest, but I don't really feel like this was a book written for people in college and would be much better for high schoolers who want to read up.
Still, despite it being written by a Wellsey grad, there were certain elements that struck me as inauthentic. Like every time a swear word is used, there's a big deal made about it that made the book feel incredibly juvenile. I really struggled to believe in these characters. So much of the dialogue was stiff and stilted and felt more designed to communicate buckets of information to the reader than to reflect a genuine conversation. This felt especially true when the two main characters discuss being a-spec. It didn't feel like genuine conversations between two people who are excited to share an experience but more like an educational panel you'd find by googling what it means to be a-spec. I loved Loveless, and I was happy to see more representation in YA because there's so little, but it doesn't hit the same notes Loveless did. Dear Wendy was thoroughly too self conscious, too dense, and lacked a really compelling plot to make me want to keep reading. I really had a hard time with this one, but even though I'm not far from YA age, I'll leave it to the actual teens to definitely weigh in on this one.

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This YA debut follows two first-year students at Wellesley College, Sophie (she/her) and Jo (she/they). Both identify as aromantic and asexual, and though Wellesley is more accepting of queerness than most places, they both feel alone in their identities. Both also anonymously run relationship advice Instagram accounts. Sophie’s “Dear Wendy” provides earnest, gentle advice about better communication; Jo’s “Sincerely, Wanda” specializes in a sarcastic humor that often suggests people just dump their partners.

Sophie and Jo meet in a feminist and gender studies class and become friends; at the same time, Wendy and Wanda feud over their clashing styles. The feud is extremely silly in a way that a lot of college is, especially when the internet gets involved. The friendship, in contrast, is beautiful and nuanced. Their other friends, most of whom are queer, are kind and supportive, Sophie and Jo really see each other in their identities. Jo in particular worries that all their friends will partner up and leave them alone. This book is an ode to a-spec people and platonic love. Sophie and Jo start a student org called the Dianas (named for the “arrow-ace” goddess) to meet more a-spec students.

Zhao is a recent Wellesley grad, and so the details of college life are sharp. I also found the book to be extremely astute about family dynamics. Jo’s parents are lesbians who are well-versed in changing queer identities and ask all the right questions. Sophie’s immigrant parents feel that her identity might be a phase, which causes some tension in their relationship, though they still clearly love her. While the other characters don’t get a great deal of focus, their family situations were also nuanced.

This book is funny, smart, and also ridiculous in the right ways. Sophie’s and Jo’s first-person narrative voices do read a bit too similar, especially given how different Wendy and Wanda sound. Even though I am not aromantic or asexual, I appreciated being reminded that there are so many different kinds of partners and everyone deserves to be loved.

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This was my most anticipated read of 2024, I was so excited to get into it and for it to become one of my ultimate fav books because you don't see aroace rep every day. This was supposed to be THE book for me, the one I've been waiting for all my life. But sadly it didn't fully work for me.

It felt like something was missing. Maybe it's because it's a debut, and the author's future works will be better. It wasn't bad at all though, just not as amazing as I was hoping.

So I think the voice here is what mainly bugged me, it read super young for YA and I couldn't really believe that they were both in college. It was borderline middle grade level.

The discussion about different ace-spec identities was well done, but it also felt like the author was introducing the readers to it more than trusting us to already know about it.

There's a positive side to that too, I think this could be a hit with the younger YA crowd, Dear Wendy is a book that could help them realise they're ace, aro, or both. But when you already know & are secure in your identity, it can feel a bit repetitive.

The whole online feud thing wasn't my favourite part either, I think the concept was good, but the execution made it seem so immature. I'm not saying college aged folks don't get into petty Instagram arguments, but I feel like it's something more suited for, say, fourteen year olds?

What I liked, is the lovely queerplatonic relationship between Sophie & Jo. Like, if you asked me what my ideal relationship is, it would be theirs for sure.

It's so nice to read a book where friendship is centred and platonic love is just as important as romantic love. We love to see it. And we NEED more books like this, please and thank you.

I also liked Sophie and Jo as characters, their friends, how everyone interacted with each other, how funny the book could be at times and the overall diversity of the world.

Please do read this book and support Ann Zhao!!! I may not have fully vibed with it, but you might. I need as many people as possible to give this book a chance so we can keep getting ace stories okay? Okay.

*Thank you to the publishers and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

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REVIEW: Dear Wendy by Ann Zhao

“Dear Wendy” is the platonic love story you’ve been waiting for.

Ann Zhao’s “Dear Wendy” is a dual-POV young adult contemporary novel following Sophie Chi and Jo Ephron, two aromantic and asexual college students who run rival love-advice Instagram accounts, all while they become friends in real life.

Zhao draws from what are often considered romance beats and tropes when writing Sophie and Jo’s friendship, and it’s such an incredibly thoughtful way to showcase how platonic relationships can be just as important as romantic ones.

It also makes for funny moments and some tender, beautiful ones, too! A scene near the end really channels the feel of over-the-top romantic gestures, but instead, it’s for friendship, and it’s. Wonderful!

That is to say, I adored Sophie and Jo’s friendship. They had such a great dynamic, and I loved both their banter and their more thoughtful conversations.

While this book is funny and lighthearted, it also offers a nuanced look at aroace identities. Sophie (she/her) struggles with her parents not accepting her identity, and Jo (she/they) worries their friends will leave her after finding romance. Sophie and Jo also start an a-spec campus club, and it was so nice to see them connect with each other and others over their identities.

While the plot’s direction might be easy to guess based on the blurb, Zhao executes it flawlessly. One reveal toward the end perfectly ties together different plot threads and expertly uses both POVs.

And truly, there’s so much to love about “Dear Wendy”: the Instagram accounts, the gender studies class, its depiction of college life, and its perfect young adult voice!

Fun and heartfelt, “Dear Wendy” is a love letter to college life, friendship and community, and a-spec identities. Zhao’s debut has snagged my heart and become one of my favorite young adult contemporary novels. I can’t WAIT to see what Ann Zhao writes next.

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