Member Reviews

In addition to the normal disclaimer that I received a free copy of the book, I do feel the need to disclaim (but really mostly to brag) that I do know Ann. I am a very proud person-who-exchanges-Instagram-DMs-with-her-sometimes. But I promise all the bias in my review only comes from the same places it usually does, which is just me being very opinionated.

The plot of Dear Wendy is most easily described as a platonic You’ve Got Mail. When Sophie and Jo, two freshmen at Wellesley College, create dueling love-advice accounts on Instagram (Dear Wendy and Dear Wanda respectively), they find themselves in an online feud, while simultaneously a friendship grows between them in real life. They meet in an intro gender studies class, and end up hitting it off when they realize they are both aroace. Soon they are making plans to do what all college students do: grabbing meals together in the dining hall and starting an organization for a-spec students. But their fledgling friendship is threatened by the secrets they keep from one another and the growing intensity of their online arguments.

One of the things that make this novel such a delight to read is that we get dual POVs from Sophie and Jo, each of who has a very distinct voice. Sophie is a type-A people-pleaser, known at Wellesley as a “Wendy,” who admits “I think Jo would get a bad impression if they learned that I was widely known for being aloof and bitchy and too much of a teacher’s pet, even if half the students at our college are also aloof, bitchy teacher’s pets.” She takes her role of advice Instagrammer very seriously, doing extensive research and crafting responses. She can’t stand when Dear Wanda is flippant, even if it probably is a joke. 

Meanwhile, Jo is a total “Wanda,” a type-B personality, who is a little more chaotic and messy. Jo is also struggling a lot with how to approach her friendships. She is really good friends with her two roommates, but is scared they will both leave her when they get partners. Jo had some really bad experiences with their friends in high school, and has some internalized aphobia which makes them feel like they will ultimately be left alone. So forging a relationship with Sophie and other a-spec students at Wellesley ends up being an incredibly important part of her growth.

Something a discerning reader of this review will have noticed is that Jo uses she/they pronouns. They are still trying to figure out what their gender is exactly, and a lot of their thoughts were something I found to be completely relatable. They are comfortable being in a majority-women environment, but also don’t quite feel that the woman label fits. I knew going in that aroace identities would be explored, but I didn’t know I would also get an added bonus of gender identity! 

Of course, a-spec identities are one of the main themes of the book. Sophie and Jo both interact with their aroace identities differently, and I think Zhao makes it really clear that these are two people’s experiences of a-spec identity, they do not represent everyone’s identity, just the two characters whose stories she set out to tell. But I think that just emphasizes how important it is to have another piece of a-spec literature out there.

And I have to say, I love how much this book focused on friendship. Friendship in college (and adulthood in general) is genuinely really hard! You say “we should grab lunch sometime” and then you never do. You mean to keep talking to those people from class after the semester ends, but school tends to get in the way. Sophie and Jo both have friends already, but they are also struggling through the experience of making friends post-orientation. It is a complicated process that I can attest took up way more of my thought and time in college than dating ever did. 

However, please do not get the impression that this book is overly serious. There is so much lightheartedness and humor to be had. Reading the Dear Wendy vs Dear Wanda account beef was so funny. I always love multimedia stories, so the inclusion of the Instagram posts and comments was such a fun way to show how the drama was spreading outside of Sophie and Jo's circle, and just how big their fight was getting. Sophie and Jo both have some pretty snarky senses of humor, which lead to lots of actual laughing out loud on my part. Their lives are equally filled with schoolwork and shenanigans.

As one of a relatively smaller number of reviewers who can speak on it, I also feel like I do really have to commend Ann for so accurately capturing the Wellesley atmosphere. I need everyone to understand that is exactly what drama at Wellesley is like. And I love that it reflects how many of us feel: Wellesley is not a perfect place, it has a lot of things to improve on. But it is also a really special place that many people consider home. I certainly read this book at a time when I was really missing Wellesley, and getting to be immersed in the world of Dear Wendy for a few hours felt like being back at Wellesley with my own friends. 

Dear Wendy is a charming addition to the growing body of YA literature set in college, as well as the queer YA canon. The novel thoughtfully explores friendship, allonormativity, gender, and finding your passions. It is a perfect read for anyone who loves a coming of age story, and wishes there were more books that focused on the importance of friendship in our lives.

Was this review helpful?

so heartfelt and so funny! i love how it shows how powerful and life changing platonic love can be! it’s such an important story and i can’t wait to have my own physical copy one day!

Was this review helpful?

I was so excited to read this YA book with not just one but two aroace MCs and it was soo good!🤩 It was such a perfect friend-com(is that right?😆) with amazing characters and a wonderful platonic love story. I wish there had been more books like these when I was in my teens but I'm so happy they're getting published now!

Sophie Chi is a first year student at Wellesley College and has a popular Instagram page called 'Dear Wendy' where she gives relationship advice to other students but noone knows about her identity except for her roommate. She does a lot of research and gives serious advice! And Jo Ephron is another first year student who had created her 'Sincerely Wanda' account as a joke but somehow it took off and she has started offering advice to the submissions in a sarcastic but playful manner. After a few playful jabs and exchanges, Sophie and Jo end up in a weirdly funny online rivalry without knowing who the other is.
And at the same time, they grow closer irl after meeting in a class and bonding over their shared aroace identities and experiences. But what will happen when they find out about each other's online identities?👀😂

Honestly, this was so delightful and funny! I think I found Sophie a bit more relatable at first with her advice-giving and how serious she was about some things(what can I say? I guess I'm a Wendy and yes I did read the acknowledgments too 😂) But it was hard not to love Jo too - who might seem a bit prickly on the outside but was actually very sweet and goofy!❣️ I loved how both of them had varying experiences(asexuality is a spectrum) and finally felt seen after meeting each other. Not only did I love their friendship but the supporting cast was amazing too! I loved their roommates, friends and family - who brought some drama and varying degrees of supportiveness! I should probably stop gushing but I think this is one of my fave YA/NA books from this year and I can't wait to read more from this author!

Was this review helpful?

"Sometimes love isn't between two people falling *in* love" -Jo

I'm still don't know how I feel about this book. Dear Wendy follows two college students, Jo Ephron and Sophie Chi. The two are both aroace and take a class together, yet online they are rivals. Jo started wandawellsley69 as a way to help her friend, while Sophie started Dear Wendy to help students with their relationship issues.

As their online rivalry grows, their personal relationship blossoms. Nights of watching youtube while studying, sleepovers and starting a club for ace spec students.
Overall I enjoyed this book, the characters were a little grading at first but as time goes on they give more understanding.
While I do appreciate the grand wonderings about queer theory, I feel some of these points weren't fully fleshed out. I did really enjoy the guidance of adults and the way Jo's moms and Dr. Fineman were able to help. As a demi person myself, there were a lot of statements I could relate with, and was happy we did get a demi character. Although I feel like jo really had a chip on her shoulder, and Sophie accepted what she thought she deserved. I also really hated how mean they were in their online personas.
They were constantly stuck on the concept that love can only really be romantic or sexual, when in reality they can be so much more than that. I hated seeing Jo go through this crisis of self, but I feel Sophie had a harder time with her parents and wanting her parents love. I feel this was very interesting depicting love. Also Alicia a side character said something that I REALLY agreed with because when going through dating apps she explained she swiped away from non-bipoc prospects because she didn't want to teach her culture to someone else. I felt that so hard.

Overall, a good book if you're looking for something to read. As a demi person I did really enjoy the character we got, and I liked certain aspects of Jo & Sophie's friendship.
Thank you so much to the publisher for an ecopy.

Was this review helpful?

Dear Wendy is a YA Contemporary novel I really enjoyed. It’s a platonic love story that was so sweet.

The story follows two asexual and aromantic first year college students. Sophie Chi is fascinated by relationships despite having no desire to be in one herself. She runs a popular Instagram account—Dear Wendy—where she provides love and relationship advice. Jo Ephron hates her friend’s shitty boyfriend and makes a joke satirical account under the name Wanda (the antithesis of Wendy) to advise her friend to dump her boyfriend. Jo doesn’t expect their Instagram account to take off or to end up in a public feud with Wendy, but that’s exactly what happens.

I really enjoyed the way Sophie and Jo bickered online all while unknowingly becoming friends in real life. The two complemented each other so well and make the greatest of best friends. I loved their deep discussions and their lighthearted banter. It was really cool to see their perspectives on their sexualities, gender, and what they want for their lives.

You’re definitely going to want to check this one out!

Was this review helpful?

You know how when you read Alice Oseman's books, you feel like you're on a journey with the characters where you get into the minutiae of their lives and thoughts and feelings, and it all feels effortless from a writing perspective? This book also had a lot of that. Fortunately, getting wrapped up in imaginary people's lives one of my favorites things.

This book is warm and funny and makes you think about sexuality, gender, and social norms while never feeling like an infodump or lecture.

Was this review helpful?

I couldn't get enough of this spunky ace, YA enemies to friends story between two college teens on the aro/ace spectrum who find themselves online dating advice rivals and IRL friends. Full of great banter, a diverse group of characters and EXCELLENT on audio with a full cast of narrators, chief among them my very fav, Natalie Naudus.

What I loved the most was how relatable the queer rep was in the book and the honest, #ownvoices ace/aro rep was and the realistic discussion of the challenges associated with that identity. HIGHLY recommended for fans of authors like Amanda DeWitt. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early digital copy and @prhaudio for a complimentary ALC in exchange for my honest review!!

Was this review helpful?

When two aromantic and asexual college students start an online feud with each other while unknowingly becoming friends in real life, when their secret identities get out... will they still want to be friends? Sophie Chi loves running her instagram account where she gives out relationship advice called, "Dear Wendy". She prides herself in trying to be serious and helping people out as best as best as she can. Joanna "Jo" Ephron is pretty relaxed and started off a advice page just for fun, something that was completely opposite to Dear Wendy, which she called Dear Wanda. Now Sophie and Jo begin feuding online yet in real life they are both attending the same college and befriend each other.... however their secret online selves are far from friends. Can they find a way to keep their friendship once their secret is out? This book was just okay to me, honestly I was hoping for more but it just felt a little uderwhelming. I do however think this book is a great book for people who want to read about identity and friendship. The story really focuses on how each of the girls deal with their sexual identities and how they both want to help others and find friendship in one another. I was hoping for a bit more in the story but overall it felt like an okay read to me. I think younger readers will definitely appreciate the coming of age/ coming into identity that the story discusses though and would recommend it.

*Thanks Netgalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group | Feiwel & Friends for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review*

Was this review helpful?

This is such a special book, and I hope it does extremely well and there will be many more aroace books to follow.

Essentially, this is a platonic romcom. It follows two aroace main characters, and it uses so many romcom tropes for their budding friendship. This truly felt like a love letter to aroace people, and it was amazing seeing a beautiful friendship like this centered in the story. We need more friendship books!

I loved how funny this was, how lowstakes but very introspective, how many wonderful characters there were, and especially seeing these two aroace people find community, and all the wonderful conversations about their experiences.

Was this review helpful?

YA contemporary college platonic love story featuring two aroace MCs who become friends while unknowingly running rival advice instagram accounts at Wellesley. This novel is an absolute delight. It is a story of love and joy as well as coming of age. The characters are well defined and knowable, and we get a good look into some of the difficulties a-spec folks are faced with in a society obsessed with romantic love. Our MCs deal with erasure and dismissal from people both in and out of the LGBTQ community, and even some internalized aphobia. But we also see their individual support systems and witness their connection to and comfort in one another as friends whose understanding comes from experience. This novel is an interesting snapshot of our time, when awareness and understanding of a-spec sexualities is patchy at best. Happily though, the novel strikes a decidedly hopeful tone.

Zhao's writing is clear and lively and a dream to read. Cuts like butter. Required reading.

Was this review helpful?

This was the aroace platonic love story I didn’t know I needed until now.

Dear Wendy is a heartfelt and funny contemporary YA story about two aromantic and asexual first-year Wellesley students who get into an online rivalry with each other’s anonymous advice Instagram accounts while slowly, and unknowingly, become close friends in real life.

I loved Sophie and Jo’s relationship as well as the explorations of their aroace and gender identities in a society so dominated by notions of physical attraction and romantic love. I feel that Ann Zhao beautifully captures the messiness and confusion of being a nineteen year old trying to figure out who they are in the world. There were so many passages in the book that I highlighted mainly because it was putting into writing so many of my own thoughts that I had while trying to understand my own a-spec identity back in school. In particular, I related very much to Sophie’s own struggles with coming out to immigrant parents, and the oftentimes nuanced complications of understanding queerness within immigrant families who come from a very different cultural background. Zhao does a brilliant job at crafting distinct voices and personalities for Sophie and Jo, and showcases a compelling story arc for both.

Full of gen-z internet humour and the observations of love in its various forms, Dear Wendy is a wonderfully queer love story about self-acceptance and the power of platonic relationships.

Thank you to Fierce Reads, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, and Colored Pages Book Tour for a gifted early copy of this book.

Was this review helpful?

I was so incredibly excited for this book, but sadly I couldn't make it through. I stopped around page 55. However, I did appreciate the aroace rep, and it was nice that there were other queer characters aside from the two main characters. My main issues were that the dialogue between characters often seemed forced, and I found the main characters, Sophie and Jo, very annoying and their Instagram feud was even more annoying. There didn't seem to be a real reason for it. I would probably read other books by this author though!
Thank you to Feiwel & Friends for a digital copy in exchange for a review.

Was this review helpful?

<i>Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.</i>

A solid, middle-of-the-road book for me. If you like lighthearted contemporaries that focus on identity, this is a great pick. Plus, it's one of the rare YA books (and actually YA, not adult/new adult) that's set in college!

The strongest element for sure was the aro/ace representation, which is what I came for. It did a good job of capturing the fact that asexuality is a spectrum and normalized it as an identity. Everything else though was a bit more rocky. Most noticeably for me was the voice/writing style. I'm constantly clamoring for YA books set in college, so I definitely didn't want this to sound like an adult book; however, both characters' voices sounded incredibly juvenile. I'm always hesitant to use that word when it comes to critiquing YA because there's nothing worse than an adult reviewer complaining that the teens in a teen book sound too much like teens--doesn't make sense. But in the case of <i>Dear Wendy</i>, the voice bordered on sounding like middle grade. I do think that there's a place for YA books with a younger voice since there are YA books with much younger characters, but for this book, it made it difficult to believe that these characters were in college.

Regarding the plot, I wasn't very invested in the whole Instagram feud thing. I do think that's connected with the juvenile voice thing though. It just felt like such a sudden, unrealistic thing to get so disproportionately mad over. It kind of reminded me of Season 4 of Sex Education (which I love), but with not enough dramatic moments to lead to such dramatic responses. The feud honestly made me really dislike Sophie and Jo, as it brought out a mean side to both of them that I couldn't enjoy (unlike in Sex Education, where everyone is kind of mean and toxic, but I fully enjoy it).

And then the last thing that's probably more of a personal thing but who knows: I wish the Wellesley love was toned down a bit. It became distracting, and it sort of chipped away at the relatability of the book, which I think is important in identity-based YA contemporaries. It wasn't the end of the world and it might not be an issue for other people, but I thought it created distance between the author and the reader.

Despite my long, fleshed-out list of cons, I still thought it was an enjoyable, easy read. If you're looking for ace rep and some bantering, this is a decent pick.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to Netgalley for providing an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

FINALLY! AN AROACE PLATONIC ROMANCE! BLESS!

Dear Wendy is a beautiful romantic comedy that really hits the aroace rep where it hurts. Both Sophie and Jo have their own experiences when it comes to their a-spec identity, but somehow both feel extremely relatable to myself. I felt just too seen.

The comedy is gold and really corresponds to LGBTQ+ gen-z culture. As a millennial that is borderline gen-z, I could really see fresh eighteen-year-olds talking like this, while also adding drama that has me laughing out loud. I love all of the cringey pop culture references and how even Wanda and Wendy's posts are formatted to look like Instagram posts/stories. Go into this story expecting not to take everything seriously. Just embrace the cringe of young college queer students.

The last quarter of the novel really captured the aroace experience and challenges. In a society that constantly prioritizes romantic relationships over platonic ones, both Sophie and Jo experience strong character development and face their inner fears through each other. I really loved how these topics were addressed--in a casual, but delicate and validating way.

I think this would make a perfect young adult Netflix flick.

NETFLIX PLEASE!!

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC.

This book was such a beautiful friendship love story. I loved how messy they were and how they grew through their mistakes. They felt like real people. I loved the way queerness, and identity were talked about and the diversity the cast had.

The conversation around identifying as aro/ace spec was so genuine.

I will think about these characters for a long time.

If possible, I feel like I’m a Wendy and a Wanda. But I feel like my indecision makes me a Wendy.

Was this review helpful?

(4/5) adorable amazing fantastic. i thoroughly enjoyed this, although i will say, not a fan of the modern references. they felt constant and sometimes out of place in a scene. ALSO. i was absolutely shocked when i opened this arc and saw my hometown called out in the first page?? hello?? talk about crazy coincidences.

Was this review helpful?

I have had this book on my TBR literally since the day the deal for this was announced — before it even had a cover and (I think) a goodreads page?? I don't even think I identified as aroace when I first heard about it. I certainly had no idea that I would end up at a small, historically women's college not too far from where this book is set. So, getting approved to read this book early? The literal DREAM. And even though I did not enjoy this one, it means a lot to me that I'm in the position to read and review books that so closely resemble under-represented aspects of my life! So thank you to Macmillan (Feiwel & Friends) for the eARC for honest review.

DEAR WENDY follows two aroace students in their first year at Wellesley College, a historically women's college in Massachusetts. This is (supposed to be) a platonic love story, where Jo and Sophie form an online rivalry through their anonymous relationship advice blogs, while unknowingly growing into close friends in real life. There's a lot of use of the Wendy/Wanda dynamic at Wellesley: Wendy (our Sophie) is the put-together, always-prepared, thoughtful character type, while Wanda (our Jo) is goofy, cool, and more of a relatable mess.

Here's the thing: there wasn't really a single aspect of this book that fully developed. There were some moments in the beginning where Jo or Sophie would passingly reflect on part of their aroace identities and I was so ready to see these thoughts evolve and to observe their effects on their lives and relationships. But rather than exploring these concepts through the story, they just kept being thrown at the reader in a superficial way.

The only aspect I felt was sorta demonstrated through the story was Jo's fears and uncertainty about companionship as someone who can't and doesn't want to experience romantic/sexual relationships. Yet, while this was the only aspect of their aroace identity that had any real bearing on the plot, it kept being brushed off? Every time Jo would mention it, Sophie would respond with some sort of variation of "yeah, I used to feel like that but I'm past that now" and then we'd get some internal monologue about how much Jo wishes she had it together like Sophie. (And this EXACT discussion happened so many times in this novel!!)

In general, I felt like there was way too much telling and not nearly enough of the characters experiencing what they were talking about. At least half the book was Jo and Sophie either in a discussion during class or discussing identity when hanging out together. And every single time, they just shared conclusions they had come to and were like "omg same" and then moved on to the next suuuper relatable experience. It was like the author was trying to tick the box on every aspect of aroace discourse?? I don't want a list of ways people can be aroace, I want to sympathize and understand the actual, lived experiences of these specific characters.

I think there's something to be said about stories where the characters already are comfortable with their queerness, about allowing people who are past the initial self-discovery moment to live and exist as who they understand themselves. But if you're not going to have a coming-of-age story arc, I'm gonna need some character development. Sophie did not change from page 1 to the very end. Plus, because Jo's little moments of vulnerability were only approached at a surface level and given such concise and formulated answers, the story did not build. By the time the climax happened, I was underwhelmed.

I also just felt like the online rivalry between their online, dating advice personas was really petty and not at all funny. They were straight-up rude and nasty to each other, especially Sophie. She would literally acknowledge that something "Wanda" said was obviously a joke and then proceed to take it wayyy too seriously and give a mini essay on why they were wrong.

Also, even the in-person banter felt forced. So many times, one of them (usually Sophie) would make a supremely boring joke and they were described as "bursting into laughter" for long periods of time? Maybe it's just me (it's not just me), but I feel like banter shouldn't have to be pointed out as hilarious to be funny. It actually... makes it less funny. There was also heavy reliance on pop culture that already feels outdated and this book hasn't even come out yet.

We need more aro and ace fiction, more non-romance queer YA, and especially more of these stories from authors of color. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend DEAR WENDY for this because I do not feel it develops any of these concepts beyond what's already been said better by others.

Was this review helpful?

Funny, heartfelt, and real. Dear Wendy takes you on the most hilarious yet powerful journey of identity, sexuality, and friendship. Ann's contemporary voice SHINES on the pages and makes one feel so seen and loved.

Was this review helpful?

4.75 stars
I am LIVING for the a-spec representation in this book! As an asexual person, these characters made me feel so seen in many different ways.

Sophie and Jo are both aroace and attending Wellesley, and they are both secretly running anonymous advice accounts on Instagram. One is a serious advice column, and the other is a snarky take on it. Their rivalry heats up as their in-person friendship blossoms.

This is one of those books that I wish I'd had a decade ago. I love the platonic love, the Sapphic relationships around the two main characters, and the mixed media format of their posts and texts. I adore the various BIPOC representations and the college-level discussions of exclusion and attraction. The family and friendship dynamics were really interesting, and I adore the idea of an a-spec club.

I think the writing could have been tightened up a little bit, and I unfortunately think this book will not have the lasting power since it is so focused on actual current technology. But I definitely look forward to seeing more from this author with hopefully more a-spec characters!

Was this review helpful?

sophie chi, an aromantic and asexual college student, runs an instagram account called “dear wendy” dedicated to giving relationship advice, despite knowing she’ll never have a relationship of her own. jo ephron creates a parody of “dear wendy” called “sincerely wanda,” not expecting it to gain as much traction as it did. the two feud online, but keep their identities secret in real life, leading to the two becoming friends who bond over their shared aroace identities.

this was such a sweet book! i love the idea of two people with secret identities having different dynamics online than they do in person. both of their reactions to the other’s online identities made sense to me, too.

i loved reading about sophie and jo bonding over being aroace, as i’m sure this can feel isolating sometimes. they also had different reactions to being aroace: sophie has mostly accepted it, but jo is still coming around to it. i liked how both sides were represented. it was also cool how they set up a club for fellow aspec students!

side note: soooo many books were referenced in this one, and it was really fun trying to piece together the clues to see which specific book they were talking about!

i highly recommend this book to any YA readers!

Was this review helpful?