Cover Image: Dear Wendy

Dear Wendy

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Member Reviews

I think we need more platonic love stories like this. I had a blast reading it! Both Sophie and Jo were so vivid and complex. I found myself relating to both of them in different ways. I realized I hadn’t read a book where the main characters were aroace before and I really loved how Zhao explained all the complexities and nuances of that community. The author’s note at the beginning was especially great. I really enjoyed the Wendy and Wanda battles. They were silly and ridiculous, but I found myself cackling several times at their online banter. I did think that the story dragged on a few places, especially towards the end, but I was still loving these characters and their friendship. I loved the focus on platonic soulmates. I did also think Priya and Lianne were reeeeeeeeally judgmental and off putting at times. Overall though, this was such a sweet read and I’m so happy it exists
CW: biphobia, lesphobia, aroace phobia, mentions of diaspora

Thank you to NetGalley and Feiwel & Friends for an advanced digital reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.

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- 3.75 stars-

Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to access this book in exchange for an honest review!

I think the concept of Sophie and Jo’s growing friendship versus their growing rivalry as Wendy and Wanda is hilarious! And for those who are searching for themselves in a story and haven’t quite found it yet, this might be the book for them. I identified as ace for the better part of 8 years before finding that that was not in fact the case, but during that time, I think I would have found comfort in this book and dreamed of a friendship like Jo and Sophie’s. At this stage in my life, there were parts of this I could have passed on, namely the parts that tend to fall into that buzz-wordy category a lot of my recent reads have landed in, but given the purpose of the book, I think this was to be expected, so I won’t fault it for that.

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Wow, I really want to scream off of the rooftops about this book. Please read it! It's such a lovely aro/aspec story and I think so many will appreciate the authentic representation.

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This book was adorable. I really enjoyed the representation and the author’s depiction of the characters. Such a fun, sweet read

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I'm so glad Dear Wendy will be out in the world soon, and I hope the young people who need it will find it. I'm a decade older than Ann Zhao's leads, Sophie and Jo, but I felt so seen by this book, and found Zhao articulated many thoughts I've had but never put into words, and, in many cases, hadn't seen in a book. I think the book is strongest in showing the range of a-spec identity, understanding, and acceptance - having the contrast of Sophie and Jo's thoughts and journeys added so much. Setting the book at a very liberal, queer-friendly school that still struggles with acceptance also added another useful layer. The overall plot, of Sophie and Jo as secretly feuding advice-givers, was also entertaining, and I loved the interstitial advice posts and comments.

Zhao does tend to fall into over-explaining for her readers, in ways that people wouldn't naturally speak or the characters need to share with someone who is so similar to them, though it will likely be useful for young readers and those unfamiliar with the ace/aro spectrum. I do think this book suffers from some "first novel" writing weaknesses, and Sophie and Jo feel a bit childish and aged down for college students, but these things didn't bother me for the most part. The emotion and meaning come through so well that I could let go of the rest.

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“Dear Wendy” by Ann Zhao is the platonic rom-com of my dreams. It’s a YA novel set in college which follows two aromantic and asexual students as they feud over Instagram but become best friends in real life.

This was a great book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is asexual and/or aromantic, questioning, wants to know more about these identities, or just wants to read a delightful novel that prioritizes friendship.

The two protagonists are Sophie and Jo. Sophie runs an anonymous Instagram to give people relationship advice, something which she takes very seriously and employs lots of research to do. Jo, meanwhile, starts their own advice account on Instagram at first to help a friend, but continues it as a sort of joking counterpart to Sophie’s account. The two start butting heads online over their very different attitudes and approaches to giving advice. However, in real life, Sophie and Jo meet in a class together and soon bond over their shared aro-ace identity. As their friendship strengthens, the tension builds—when will they discover each other’s online alter egos?

I loved this as a person who wants to read more stories centered around friendship, and the fact that it takes place in college is another plus for me. I thought both main characters were very well-developed and had strong, unique voices. I appreciated the rest of the people inhabiting their world as well.

I did find some of the educational themes of the book to be a bit heavy-handed, but that’s coming from someone who knows a lot about aromantic and asexual identities already. This book would be a very good introduction to someone just learning more about those identities and the nuances of them, and it does a good job showing that no two aro-ace people will have the exact same experiences or outlooks.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and I think it’s a very necessary addition to the YA market. This book will mean a lot to many people and will help many people on the aro-ace spectrum or who are questioning to understand themselves. Thank you to Ann Zhao, Feiwel & Friends, and Netgalley for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Thank you Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and NetGalley for granting me access to an eARC of this fantastic book!

Firstly, this book is one of my favorite things I’ve read in a while. I don’t read enough books with aroace characters and I loved getting to do that here.

Zhao discusses lots of important topics in this book ranging from the way that society makes it more difficult for aromantic people to exist with the expectation that everyone is supposed to find their one true love and live happily ever after which just isn’t true. Zhao also discusses the way that children of immigrants can have a hard time dealing with parental expectations and their own desire to make their parents happy even if that means hiding pieces of themselves for their approval.

This book was really well done. The dual point of view was perfect for this story because of the social media rivalry. The small details about the college culture that get included throughout the book reminded me of my days at my undergrad, not because I went to the school in the book (I didn’t), but because I think a lot of colleges have that special language that only students know about. That part is probably going to trigger some nostalgia in non-teen readers.

I love that one of the big themes of the book is forgiveness: forgiving yourself for not being perfect, forgiving your friends for hurting you on purpose, forgiving them for hurting you not on purpose. I also love that Sophie and Jo get to experience that feeling you get when you find a friend who really understands a piece of you that nobody else understands and that they take that feeling and turn it into something actionable. They start an a-spec club so other a-spec students on campus can share that with them.

This is a very hopeful book and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys stories about friendship and self-acceptance!

Check this book out on April 16!

5 out of 5 stars.

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This book is exactly what it's advertized as- a platonic love story (key here platonic), an online enemies situation, and two college students just trying to figure themselves out. This gives Alice Osman Loveless vibes so if you like that, you'll love this. This is aro/ace queer representation, BIPOC representation, and found family. This is a book that so many young adults will be able to relate to, help shape themselves, and identify themselves. This is incredibly powerful and I cannot wait to see this blow up and change the young adults of this next generation. This book will be so widely loved.

The only reason I'm not giving this 5 stars is because I felt it was a little long and being someone who isn't aromantic nor asexual, I wasn't able to relate to this the same way that other people will. Still a solid 4.5 stars though- 100% would recommend it to all.

"People choose, every day, to be lovers, to be friends, to be family."
Love is more than just a romantic attraction. Love is how you feel for your friends, your family, and the people in your life that you care about. Yes, some people choose to have romantic relationships, but not having one or wanting one doesn't make you less than or wrong. This lesson is a hard one to learn but is one that the author really pushes to teach in this book. My identity is not aro/ace, but this is a book that I learned from and helped make me more confident in who I am. Whether I am in a relationship or not, I am a confident and strong person and a relationship doesn't define me. Thank you for reminding me of that <3

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I wasn’t all that invested in the book or the characters, but I did enjoy it for the most part.

Reading this book on my Kindle left me completely unaware of how long the book actually was. I genuinely felt like it could be 600 pages or more. The story felt so incredibly long while nothing was really happening. I was waiting and waiting for the big reveal only to find it to be a letdown. There were so many chapters, descriptions, and sentences that could have been cut and the story would have been the same.

I also found that constant references to other YA books a bit repetitive. While it was fun to decipher which books were being referenced, I can’t help but question what it added to the story.

What the book does really well is provide experiences of aspec youth! I always love reading about characters on the asexual spectrum because experiences can vary greatly. It is wonderful to see representation for aspec readers. I also appreciated that all the aspec characters were in different places in their life, acceptance, understanding or just showed different placements on the spectrum.

My favorite part of the book was reading Dear Wendy or Wanda posts and banter. I really liked the idea of anonymous advice columns and I think it was an interesting plot for the book. I just wish the big reveal was a bit more exciting or realistic.

Overall, the book was enjoyable but felt painfully long and a bit cheesy.

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Sophie has been running an anonymous advice account for months. It's pretty famous on her college scene. But then someone makes a counter account, and it's very unserious and Sophie takes it as an attack, a mockery. And so the two start an online feud. Little does she know that this account is run by fellow aroace and fast friend Jo.

I had a great great great time reading this. Loved the rep, the talks, the lectures, the whole college setting. I love the petty Instagram drama and the friendships and the friendship drama.
I loved the main characters, both points of view were just as compelling and captivating. I was sucked in from beginning to end. I also loved the little screenshot and text post of both accounts. This was simply great from start to finish.
I honestly could not recommend this more. It's one of my favorite debuts ever. I loved it so much. I can't wait for more books by Ann Zhao. This book has just made her an auto-buy author for me.

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I will wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone, let's start with that, I've never read a book about aro-ace identities ( I fall into the a-spec ) that has made me feel so seen and safe.
Ann Zhao was able to create a book filled with so much love, warmth and acceptance that it filled my heart with joy. Through out the book I was nodding at stuff, relating to and adoring these characters. Sophie and Jo are two characters that I never knew I needed.
The writing was fun, fast-paced and enjoyable, and the story was wholesome like one big bear hug. I hope it reaches people who will relate to it, who will feel seen and heard by it and will realise they aren't alone and so many a-spec people face the same thing and won't feel so alone.

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Thank you, NetGalley and Feiwel and Friends, for providing me with an ARC for this book!

I truly appreciated the diversity and representation present in this book, which encompassed race, sexual and romantic orientation, and family backgrounds. It is crucial for readers who are underrepresented to feel included and this book definitely delivered for aroace readers. It was so interesting to learn about the intersectionality of identities and how that impacts the experiences of people who are a-spec. Through this book, I gained a deeper understanding of the myths and realities surrounding the a-spec identity.

The characters were very well-developed, each with their own stories, which made them feel like real people. While I found myself relating to Sophie's character, I struggled to warm up to Jo, especially considering that Jo initiated their online feud by being unnecessarily rude to Sophie. I believe it would have been more compelling if their conflict stemmed from a disagreement rather than from initial hostility. The online drama and exchanges between them felt somewhat childish. At times in the beginning, I also found the dialogue very monotonous and a bit stunted. However, as the online feud began to subside, I found myself more drawn to the story as the platonic love between Sophie and Jo began to develop in real life.

Overall, this book felt like a breath of fresh air and Ann Zhao did an excellent job at illustrating inclusivity through her characters. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone interested in a narrative that explores themes of friendships and familial relationships, especially from the perspectives of people who are aroace.

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i want to preface this by saying i spent 368 pages making fun of the college thinking it was a made up one to realise, when reading the acknowledgements, that it is, in fact, a real college in america. so. how's your day going?

i had really high expectations for dear wendy, because duh!!! aroace contemporary? sign me up! i want to read more books that have a-spec main characters. unfortunately the book didn't exactly reach my expectations.

let's start with the positive: the aroace rep was amazing and it's definitely the best aspect of the book. it was why i chose to read this book in the first place so im really glad to say that it was really good. i loved the discussions around the aroace identities and what it's like to exist in a world that is predominantly allo. i loved the discussions around the different micro-identities (we meet several characters who are demisexual, or a-spec and pan for example!) and how being a-spec doesn't stop you from being in a romantic and/or sexual relationship. i think not enough medias talk about this and it was refreshing to see. the friendship between jo and sophie was really cute: i felt seen when they both realised they weren't alone and that they had found someone else who was aroace. i know the feeling lol and it's SUCH a good feeling to finally have someone to talk to. im glad they found eachother. the progression of their friendship into what will most likely be a queerplatonic relationship later was also sooo wholesome and it made me really happy to read that. THE WORLD NEEDS MORE MEDIAS WITH QPR!!!!

now with the things that bothered me. i am so sorry to say that but the feud between wendy and wanda was SO STUPID 😭😭😭. it was ridiculous tbh and i wont lie it did take me out a bit of the story. i know they're 18 years old but come onnnnn. who has the energy to have a petty online feud IN COLLEGE (no one. we're all drowning). because of that, i found both jo and sophie a bit childish at times and i was annoyed by it. this made the third act "break up"/disagreement a bit... annoying id say? obviously we all knew jo and sophie would find out about their hidden identities as wanda and wendy but their reasons to be mad at each other were a bit petty/ridiculous imo.
and also, i am SO SORRY, but i can't take a college that had a lecture on attractiveness seriously.

i would recommend this book to everyone who is a-spec and wants a cute platonic relationship between two characters tho. when i say we need more medias with a-spec characters, especially aroace characters and queer platonic relationships, i mean it.

Thank you to Netgalley for sending me an eARC of this book!

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a heartfelt story that made me SOB on my plane ride, dear wendy encapsulates all the wonderful things within young adult novels: the complexity of belonging, finding your own place, and charming characters, all the while also introducing necessary contemporary themes of BIPOC and queer experiences at PWIs, navigating spaces that weren’t made for you, and amplifying voices through the power of stories and experiences.

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**Thank you to NetGalley and Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan Publishing Group for this ARC in exchange for an honest review**

First off, this book is PACKED with rep (listed in each category in order of significance to the story):

Asian : Sophie Chi, Izzy Sun, Ashley Jeong, Sue Chen, Oliver (half)
Black : Lianne Butler
Indian : Priya Chakrabarti
Latinx : Alicia Flores, Charlie Santos, Lily Reyes, Oliver (half)

Jewish: Becky Ephron

Neurodivergent: Charlie Santos

A-spec rep:

Aroace: Sophie Chi, Jo Ephron
Aromantic : Evelyn Dawson
Demiromantic : Charlie Santos
Demisexual : Izzy Sun
*Hannah Rizzo mentions she is cishet ace.

Other LGBTQIA rep :

Bisexual : Alicia Flores, Katy Murphy
Lesbian : Priya Chakrabarti, Lianne Butler, Dr. Lisa Fineman, Evelyn
Dawson, Becky Ephron, Melissa Ephron, Abby Chi
Non-binary: Charlie Santos
Pansexual: Charlie Santos

At Wellesley, you’re either a Wendy (studious, serious) or a Wanda (relaxed, fun). Two students there have taken it upon themselves to start love advice accounts on Instagram after trying to help their friends. Dear Wendy (@dearwendywellesley) prides themselves on giving actual advice, while Sincerely, Wanda (@wandawellesley69) is just having a good time with their responses. 90% of Wendy’s answers are just to communicate better with the other people involved, while 90% of Wanda’s answers are just to break up already.

Sophie Chi, the one behind Dear Wendy is a bespectacled Chinese American girl from Chicago, Illinois, who always wears her hair up because she thinks it makes people take her more seriously. She runs every day at 7 am, likes Taylor Swift, and doesn’t believe in Alice, the ghost that supposedly haunts the 4th floor dorms.
Sophie is aroace, and does a lot of research for her Dear Wendy responses due to her lack of personal experience with romantic relationships. She has previously read romance novels and self-help books, and considered taking another Women & Gender Studies class to help too. She feels as though being aroace is beneficial because it allows her to see problems more objectively and give better advice as a result.

However, not being able to relate to romantic love does have its drawbacks. Sophie was best friends with her neighbor, a guy named Oliver. Once he got into a relationship with his boyfriend, he stopped talking to her and their friendship ended. This changed her view of men, because he was her model of a good guy, before everything shattered. It led her to believe that no matter how much of a best friend she was to someone, their romantic partner will always matter more. Lucky for her, her roommate, Priya, and Priya’s girlfriend, Izzy, never make her feel that way.

She is the oldest daughter, and has a 14-year-old sister named Abby (Yuanyuan in Chinese). Her parents (nurse practitioner dad, Bowen & accountant mom, Ying) are immigrants from Communist China who are close-minded about a lot of things. They believe that Sophie’s sexuality is a choice, and are hoping she will get married and have kids just as those before her did. They pressured her about going to an Ivy League college, and were pretty disappointed when she didn’t get into any of them. Where they came from, education was the key to upward mobility and a better life; the better the college, the better her job and life later. Her mother did find out that Sophie could attend MIT classes through a program at Wellesley, and started trying to get her to do that too, saying she might even find a nice boy. As if her choice of school wasn’t bad enough, her mother also believes that the things she is majoring in (psychology and women & gender studies) are made up and pointless.

Joanna “Jo” Olivia Ephron from Natick, Massachusetts is behind the other account, Sincerely, Wanda. She is also aroace, although she is still unsure about her gender identity. She is majoring in sociology, DJs a radio show every Sunday morning for WZLY Wellesley 91.5 FM, and does theater.

Being aroace often makes her feel lonely, like she will always be going through life alone without anyone else’s help. She doesn’t have many friends, and always had trouble making them. In high school, people were always coming in and out of her circle, and it was all because of romantic relationships. She often thinks people actually hate her. Now in college, she is growing more and more concerned about her roommates, Katy and Lianne, dating in general, or possibly each other because it is clear that Lianne has a crush on Katy. This would throw off the whole dynamic, causing Jo to inevitably just be forgotten.

Jo has two moms, Melissa (Mom) and Becky (Mama). Melissa’s brother provided the sperm to create her, and Mama carried her. Her parents are completely supportive and have shown her a love worth yearning for in her own life. However, being aroace, that will most likely never be something that happens. She also has a 12-year-old brother named Theodore Henry Ephron.

Sophie and Jo meet because they have an intro to Women & Gender Studies class together, and end up being partners for a project. They become friends, bonding over being aroace. They even start an a-spec club, the Wellesley Dianas. What neither of them knows is that the other is behind the opposing love advice Instagram account. When a friend accidentally exposes one of their identities, their friendship crumbles. Will they be able to rebuild?

There are also a lot of important topics discussed:

-Jo mentions that romantic relationships complicate friendships, especially when they end. I can relate to this firsthand. I once had a best friend who basically forgot about me after she got a boyfriend because she spent all of her time with him. However, I suddenly existed again when she needed a shoulder to cry on after things went wrong. At the same time, Sophie brings up that nobody really talks about breaking up with a friend. It can be just as devastating as the end of a romantic relationship. She was friends with Oliver for 16 years.

-Sophie’s parents put a lot of pressure on her, and don’t accept her school, her major, or her identity as a whole. Parents need to understand that their children are not them. They don’t want the same things, and don’t think the same way. I think if you are going to be a parent, you need to be able to accept your child however they are. Don't try to mold them into you, or the version of them you wish they were.

-There is still such a lack of ace rep in media. It can be hard to understand what you may be feeling if you don't have the words for it. If no one else seems to be experiencing it, you may feel alone, or that something is wrong with you that needs to be fixed. Having more ace movies and stories can show that there is a life outside romance and sex, and it's beautiful.

-There are people who don't see asexuality as a queer identity.

-Purity culture still exists, and it is harmful. Jo says, "Kinda f****d up how in our society, you're a prude if you don’t have sex, and a whore if you do." (quote from unpublished version).

-Social media is double edged sword. It is all about how you choose to engage with it.

All in all, this is a story about philia. Love comes in many forms, and all are valid.

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Before I get into my thoughts, I would like to thank Ann Zhao. Thank you, Ann Zhao, for writing this story. As an aroace Asian-American, I never thought I would have the chance the read and review a story so close to my own. I cried when I saw this book. I cried while reading. Then I cried while writing my review. Dear Wendy makes me feel like my experience matters, like I matter. I am so happy and so honored to have been an advanced reader of Dear Wendy.

Okay. Now that I have my tears somewhat under control, let's talk about this book.

Contrary to other reviewers, I am such a fan of the niche setting. I am aware that women's colleges are not perfect, but Wellesley seems like a safer place to explore sexuality and gender.

The inclusion of various a-spec identities absolutely warms my heart. In addition to Sophie and Jo, there are so many aromatic or asexual side characters. Not every a-spec person has the same experience. I love that this book spotlights diversity within the a-spec community.

This book touches on several complex topics, but it still feels like YA. At times, there's this aura of immaturity / insecurity that is typical with the early college experience, like the feud.

That being said, I think that the feud between Wendy and Wanda dragged on for too long. I am a fairly conflict-averse person. Watching these two argue on social media made me uncomfortable.

Speaking of the feud, in this book, both main characters run a romantic advice column on Instagram. There are "screenshots" of the posts in the book, which is such a fun addition. The visuals make this a more immersive read.
However, I read a digital version of Dear Wendy on my phone. The "screenshots" are almost too small to be fully appreciated. This is not a criticism, but I do not recommend reading this book on your phone. This is just something to keep in mind when you go to pick up a copy.

All in all, Dear Wendy is a must read. I will forever recommend this book to other people. Like you! After you read this review, go get a copy of Dear Wendy.

Bottom line: This book made me an emotional mess.

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DEAR WENDY by Ann Zhao is an upcoming release about two aroace (aromantic and asexual) college freshman who become friends, even as they antagonize each other through their anonymous advice accounts on Instagram.

It's not a romance, but it is a love story. A platonic love story, about friendship and belonging. It's definitely YA, with a lot of exploration and explanation of queer identities and experiences. It's a great option for anyone who thinks they might be a-spec, or just wants to read a story about meaningful friendships without the characters being in a romantic relationship.

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3.5 ★ Dear Wendy is a breath of fresh air, especially because a lot of books published recently often prioritize romantic relationships and physical attraction. This book shows that love does not have to be limited to romance, and that there is beauty in all kinds of love. If you're looking for a novel centering on community, friendship, and belonging with a diverse cast of characters and an authentic college experience, Dear Wendy is the book for you.

The reason why I’m giving this book 3.5 stars is because I found some moments in the book to be a bit overdramatic and childish, especially for college students. I also felt like some of the dialogue and pop culture references felt a bit forced.

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As an aromantic asexual, Sophie Chi has come to terms with never falling in love. However, that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t enjoy talking about it. As a freshman at Wellesley College, she runs an Instagram account offering relationship advice to other students.

On the other hand, Jo created her advice-based Instagram account purely as a joke. But the account sparks an online feud between the two accounts. Despite their online feud, Jo and Sophie start to grow closer in real life. Bonding over the fact that they’re both aromantic and asexual, with similar interests. But what happens when they find out the truth about each other’s online presence?

Thanks to NetGalley and Feiwel & Friends for an advanced copy of Dear Wendy by Ann Zhao to review! I love that we’re slowly getting more aromantic and asexual representation in YA lit. Also love a book that focuses on a platonic friendship rather than a romance. If you ask me, we need more of those kinds of books in the world!

The way that Jo and Sophie’s friendship develops in this book feels so realistic, especially for being set in the first year of college. They initially bond over their class, but eventually realize they have a lot more in common. Tension is created in the fact that as readers, we know they’re feuding, but they don’t know that. I think it makes the book feel less plot driven, but I absolutely didn’t mind that.

Though eventually, there is a pretty big cast of side characters, it didn’t feel like it took away from Jo and Sophie as characters. Jo and Sophie both had roommates that felt fully developed and added to the overall tension happening throughout the book. My only complaint is that sometimes, Sophie and Jo’s voices sounded too similar, and I would forget which character’s point of view I was in. They had distinct personalities, but their voices would definitely blend together at times.

However, teens will definitely be drawn to the fact that this focuses more on friendship than romance; often, the focus is on the fact that people don’t need to be in romantic relationships to be happy. When romance and romantic relationships are such a heavy focus in our society, it is honestly a breath of fresh air.

If you’re looking for a platonic, friendship love story, definitely pick this one up when it comes out in April!

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i feel so warm inside!! there's so much heart and love in this book that as a reader i literally could feel it in my bones!! it's about community, friendship, and being aroace. please put it on your tbrs because i only have love for this fun, heartfelt and important novel!!
PERFECT PERFECT PERFECT! I felt like I was getting the warmest hug this whole read

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