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Sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to parties. Some are big, like that fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely even admit to herself—the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend. When Sana and her family move to Califo Sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to parties. Some are big, like that fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely even admit to herself—the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend. When Sana and her family move to California she begins to wonder if it’s finally time for some honesty, especially after she meets Jamie Ramirez. Jamie is beautiful and smart and unlike anyone Sana’s ever known. There are just a few problems: Sana’s new friends don’t trust Jamie’s crowd; Jamie’s friends clearly don’t want her around anyway; and a sweet guy named Caleb seems to have more-than-friendly feelings for her. Meanwhile, her dad’s affair is becoming too obvious to ignore anymore. Sana always figured that the hardest thing would be to tell people that she wants to date a girl, but as she quickly learns, telling the truth is easy… what comes after it, though, is a whole lot more complicated.


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Sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to parties. Some are big, like that fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely even admit to herself—the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend. When Sana and her family move to Califo Sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to parties. Some are big, like that fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely even admit to herself—the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend. When Sana and her family move to California she begins to wonder if it’s finally time for some honesty, especially after she meets Jamie Ramirez. Jamie is beautiful and smart and unlike anyone Sana’s ever known. There are just a few problems: Sana’s new friends don’t trust Jamie’s crowd; Jamie’s friends clearly don’t want her around anyway; and a sweet guy named Caleb seems to have more-than-friendly feelings for her. Meanwhile, her dad’s affair is becoming too obvious to ignore anymore. Sana always figured that the hardest thing would be to tell people that she wants to date a girl, but as she quickly learns, telling the truth is easy… what comes after it, though, is a whole lot more complicated.

30 review for It's Not Like It's a Secret

  1. 5 out of 5

    Crumb

    Fresh. Fantastic. Fearless. I am not an uber-fan of YA but I will make an exception now and again. This phenomenon will happen for something special. Something perfect. What can I say? It's Not Like It's a Secret was that unicorn for me. I mean.. what's there not to like? It had the main ingredients that I feel make a book unputdownable: relatable characters, a progressive plot-line, and of course, character development. On the outside, this story looks like just another teen romance.. but it wasn Fresh. Fantastic. Fearless. I am not an uber-fan of YA but I will make an exception now and again. This phenomenon will happen for something special. Something perfect. What can I say? It's Not Like It's a Secret was that unicorn for me. I mean.. what's there not to like? It had the main ingredients that I feel make a book unputdownable: relatable characters, a progressive plot-line, and of course, character development. On the outside, this story looks like just another teen romance.. but it wasn't! Sana, a Japanese-American falls in love with her best friend.. Who just happens to be a girl. Falling in love.. was the easy part. What happens next.. is messy and complicated. This book was completely unexpected and impossibly fresh. It was like I was breathing in a breath of fresh air.. having been berated and bogged down by the stereotypical romance story. This is ANYTHING but ordinary and absolutely extraordinary!! Highly recommended!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elle (ellexamines)

    This is maybe the most disappointing book I read this year. Cute contemporary, romance between two girls, ownvoices racial rep... yeah, it sounded great to me too. But I had so many issues with this book. THE GOOD + The first half is genuinely really cute! I actually loved the first half. Jamie and Sana have some great romantic buildup before they get together. There's an insta-crush, but things progress very well from there. They exchange poetry and are just generally incredibly sweet. + There' This is maybe the most disappointing book I read this year. Cute contemporary, romance between two girls, ownvoices racial rep... yeah, it sounded great to me too. But I had so many issues with this book. THE GOOD + The first half is genuinely really cute! I actually loved the first half. Jamie and Sana have some great romantic buildup before they get together. There's an insta-crush, but things progress very well from there. They exchange poetry and are just generally incredibly sweet. + There's a good portrayal of racism between different nonwhite communities, which is really rare in YA! This book did not shy away from heavy topics. I definitely appreciated that. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how well it was all executed. THE BAD + Half of the moments between Jamie and Sana have a time jump. Look, I'm sorry, but I'm here for the lesbians, and if that storyline isn't pulling its weight, what exactly am I here for? + The plotting and actual handling of issues is a complete mess, especially in the second half. The author wanted to fit several different difficult storylines in, and they didn't tie together, and some of the issues ended up coming off badly just because they didn't get enough page time. For example, Sana's issues with anti-latina racism are really not handled very well. Not because the author didn't have the best intentions at heart, but because they don't get enough pagetime. + I can't handle cheating storylines. As soon as the cheating popped up, this book immediately went from a solid 3 to a 2. I don't see why a cheating storyline was necessary in a supposedly cute and fluffy book about teens falling in love. I have issues surrounding cheating, and I am almost never willing to ship a couple when one cheats on the other. But you know what, whatever. I hate cheating and I can't read about it and enjoy it. I can't recommend this at all.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I made the mistake of thinking this was just a contemporary romance between two girls, but it actually has a lot more to the story. Racism being the most common theme throughout. There is racism from one POC to another, which is not often portrayed. Because of these themes, racism is very present and can make readers uncomfortable*. However, it is often called out by another character or Sana ponders what just happened addressing the racism head on. Stereotyping is one of the main ways racism oc I made the mistake of thinking this was just a contemporary romance between two girls, but it actually has a lot more to the story. Racism being the most common theme throughout. There is racism from one POC to another, which is not often portrayed. Because of these themes, racism is very present and can make readers uncomfortable*. However, it is often called out by another character or Sana ponders what just happened addressing the racism head on. Stereotyping is one of the main ways racism occurs in the story. This is a very diverse story with Asian, Mexican, and queer characters present. I cannot speak on how offensive these are personally. The romance was meh. It is pretty insta-love. And then the cheating storyline happens taking away from the “oh it’ll be a sweet romance.” Nope. I hated the justification of the cheating. This all was pretty frustrating. But then I go back to the racism portrayal and the growth we see in Sana. Maybe if we saw this sort of thing more, I’d have enjoyed this less because the romance really turned me off. It’s nice to see people grow and learn from others after struggling and making some bad choices earlier on. I am curious how others feel about the portrayal, so I think I’ll come back to these reviews later on and see what everyone is thinking. I won this through goodreads in exchange for an honest review. *I will clarify that I said this can make readers uncomfortable, not me personally.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Aine

    This is one of those books that I go into so excited and then come out of feeling kind of betrayed. It feels like it should have been an amazing book, but there were problems. So. Many. Problems. The Good: -I mean, it's a a gay romance (yay!) with two non-white characters (YAY!), with actual supportive female friendships (YAY!!!). -And Sana was pretty cute. -But that's about the extend of the likes. For one, I didn't really feel anything about Sana. She was cute. But I didn't have any emotional at This is one of those books that I go into so excited and then come out of feeling kind of betrayed. It feels like it should have been an amazing book, but there were problems. So. Many. Problems. The Good: -I mean, it's a a gay romance (yay!) with two non-white characters (YAY!), with actual supportive female friendships (YAY!!!). -And Sana was pretty cute. -But that's about the extend of the likes. For one, I didn't really feel anything about Sana. She was cute. But I didn't have any emotional attachment with her. She was cute. And...I mean, that's the extend of my feeling about her. -Honestly, all the characters felt kind of flat to to me. There wasn't really any depth to them, which was disappointing. -And it feels like all of Sana and Jaimie's big relationship happenings happened during time jumps. I WANTED TO SEE IT GROW, not suddenly have them speed ahead a couple of weeks were everything had happened behind the scenes, so to speak, which was sad. -And I feel like Sana had some pretty problematic/racist opinions that weren't really addressed. I mean, I get what the author was trying to do, but still. -And at times, the writing felt kind of...young. Overly simple. And, the big thing. The thing that really pissed me off. (view spoiler)[ I hate cheating storylines in general, but this one made me absolutely furious. If you have a character who has just realized that she is gay, and she identifies as a lesbian, you DO NOT have her start dating a boy to get back at her girlfriend. YOU DO NOT DO THIS. This is so, so harmful to young girls who may be reading this because they have recently realized they were gay, because it enforces the whole "you just need to find the right guy!" thing, even if she gets back together with her girlfriend at the end. And let me repeat something really quick: this character did not identify as bisexual or pansexual. She identified as a lesbian. As gay. And she dated a guy because she was mad at her girlfriend. This entire storyline felt like a punch in the gut, and it would have been so harmful to little fourteen year old Aine, who's just starting to realize that she may not be straight, that she has no attraction to boys. This is not a good book for queer readers, especially younger ones. It felt like a gut punch to me, at eighteen, someone who's solid in their identify. Imagine what this would feel like to someone who's questioning, to someone who may be dealing with internal homophobia. And even if Sana was bi or pan? STILL NO. NO. That plays into another awful and totally untrue stereotype about how mga people are more likely to cheat. Basically, the entire cheating storyline is not good at all for so many different reasons. Because it bares repeating one more time, YOU DO NOT GIVE A LESBIAN CHARACTER A BOYFRIEND. YOU DO NOT. (hide spoiler)] Rant over, and my review of this can be summed up as "no."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine from How Useful It Is

    About: It’s Not Like It’s a Secret is a fiction novel written by Misa Sugiura. It will be published on 5/9/17 by Harper Teen, 400 pages. The genres are GLBT, Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, and Romance. This book is intended for readers ages 13 and up, grades 8 and up. My Experience: I started reading It’s Not Like It’s a Secret on 3/31/17 and finished it on 4/3/17. This book is a great read! It’s fast paced, easy to read, and relatable. It has diversity like The Upside of Unrequited and light About: It’s Not Like It’s a Secret is a fiction novel written by Misa Sugiura. It will be published on 5/9/17 by Harper Teen, 400 pages. The genres are GLBT, Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, and Romance. This book is intended for readers ages 13 and up, grades 8 and up. My Experience: I started reading It’s Not Like It’s a Secret on 3/31/17 and finished it on 4/3/17. This book is a great read! It’s fast paced, easy to read, and relatable. It has diversity like The Upside of Unrequited and light hearted like To All the Boys I Have Loved Before. I like the humor & diversity in this book. This book also have the feels of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by having foreign languages in the mix. In this book, readers will follow Sana Kiyohara, a 16 years old Japanese American high school student from Milwaukee, Wisconsin (yay! I used to live there! And yup I know about Wisconsin Dells & Lake Michigan :-)) being the only Asian girl who couldn’t fit in to the Midwestern Famer’s Daughter. She feels secluded not only by her looks but also by her strict parents. Then her family relocated to California where everywhere she goes, majority of the people are minority (Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, etc). She finally has friends who understands her because other Asian parents are strict too. Through discovering where she can fit in, she’s also discovering herself. In the meantime, she also accidentally found out a secret and hesitated whether she should come forward or keep it hidden. Her mom always taught her to “gaman” which means to endure when face with difficulties. This book also introduces stereotypes, racisms, and poetry. This book is very relatable to many Asian readers but also a good reminders to the general population. The stereotypes labels about people are ongoing and this book just brought it out in the open for discussions. I like learning about Japanese cultures in this book and how alike they are to other Asians. This book is packed with a lot of happenings. There is no dull moment. I’m not good with poetry and the poems in this book are explained and I like that. I like Sana and all that she’s exposed to. I highly recommend the read to everyone! Pro: friendship, humor, diversity, acceptance, stereotypes, fast paced, page turner, poetry, relatable Con: none I rate it 5 stars! ***Disclaimer: Many thanks to the author Misa Sugiura, publisher Harper Teen, and Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review. Please assured that my opinions are honest. xoxo, Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com

  6. 5 out of 5

    tappkalina

    There are those books you instantly forget about after you finished it. I still think about this one a week later. I felt all the cuteness and got my yearly dose of disgust at the same time. Almost dnf'ed it with a fucking big 1 star 72% in. I had to stop to get rid of my disgust because I just couldn't read more about this level of cheating. Relationships are based on trust. If you cheat, how could the other person trust you? And she cheated bacause she didn't trust her girlfriend in the first pl There are those books you instantly forget about after you finished it. I still think about this one a week later. I felt all the cuteness and got my yearly dose of disgust at the same time. Almost dnf'ed it with a fucking big 1 star 72% in. I had to stop to get rid of my disgust because I just couldn't read more about this level of cheating. Relationships are based on trust. If you cheat, how could the other person trust you? And she cheated bacause she didn't trust her girlfriend in the first place. Then didn't want to tell her. If it wasn't for the boy who she cheated with but also who she led on, it would have remained a secret. Like no. Just no. Despite how I felt, I kinda changed my mind at the end? No, I'm not trying to redeem anything or anyone. Personally, if I was the love interest and for some miracle I could forgive the main character, I still wouldn't get back together with her. But unlike most romance stories, cheating in this one didn't feel like a random plot device. I think the main caharacter actually needed it to her character development. Other than that, I adored the rest of the story with her family and it's backstory, the relationship between her parents and the discussion about racism and homophobia. Plus I don't understand why writing a queer book without cheating is so hard. (?)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Elizabeth

    (I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.) “Endure. Bear it without complaining Her life’s motto and my life’s bane.” This was a YA contemporary romance story about a gay Japanese-American girl. I liked Sana in this although she did show poor judgement at times. I did like how loyal she was to her mother though. The storyline in this was about Sana moving with her family to California as her father had a new job. She then fell for a girl ca (I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.) “Endure. Bear it without complaining Her life’s motto and my life’s bane.” This was a YA contemporary romance story about a gay Japanese-American girl. I liked Sana in this although she did show poor judgement at times. I did like how loyal she was to her mother though. The storyline in this was about Sana moving with her family to California as her father had a new job. She then fell for a girl called Jamie, and spent a lot of time not knowing whether Jamie liked her back or not, and also worrying over whether her father was having an affair after seeing some incriminating text messages on his phone. The romance between Sana and Jamie was quite cute, but I felt really sorry for Caleb, who clearly had feelings for Sana himself. I also disliked the cheating in this book, as Sana really did show poor judgement in that respect. The ending to this was okay, although I wasn’t 100% happy with the way things ended with regards to Sana’s father’s affair. 6.5 out of 10

  8. 5 out of 5

    CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian

    This was AWESOME. It's one of those YA books clearly written by an adult who actually spends time with teens. The characters were messy and made LOTS of mistakes, perhaps most of all the main character Sana. I LOVED the queer girls of colour romance and I really appreciated the book's complex look at racism, stereotyping, relationships, and culture. And Sana's journey to learn to stop lying and hiding from the problems in her life was too real. I saw a lot of my younger (and sometimes current) s This was AWESOME. It's one of those YA books clearly written by an adult who actually spends time with teens. The characters were messy and made LOTS of mistakes, perhaps most of all the main character Sana. I LOVED the queer girls of colour romance and I really appreciated the book's complex look at racism, stereotyping, relationships, and culture. And Sana's journey to learn to stop lying and hiding from the problems in her life was too real. I saw a lot of my younger (and sometimes current) self in her.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    Loved this one. Sugiura gracefully tackled so many difficult and sometimes sensitive topics, while also creating fully-fleshed, relatable characters. Sana's voice is spot on. I can't wait to have this gorgeous book on my shelf to share with my students. Loved this one. Sugiura gracefully tackled so many difficult and sometimes sensitive topics, while also creating fully-fleshed, relatable characters. Sana's voice is spot on. I can't wait to have this gorgeous book on my shelf to share with my students.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Enne

    “We are who we are, and we shouldn't have to suffer for it, or prove anything to anyone.” 2 stars TW: cheating, under-age drinking, racism (at times not explicitly challenged in text) Rep: Japanese-American lesbian MC, Hispanic sapphic LI, multiple East-Asian-American SCs The Writing The writing was the most mediocre shit that I have ever read in my life. The sentence structure was incredibly repetitive, as was the writing itself. The main character going on about how she was in love with t “We are who we are, and we shouldn't have to suffer for it, or prove anything to anyone.” 2 stars TW: cheating, under-age drinking, racism (at times not explicitly challenged in text) Rep: Japanese-American lesbian MC, Hispanic sapphic LI, multiple East-Asian-American SCs The Writing The writing was the most mediocre shit that I have ever read in my life. The sentence structure was incredibly repetitive, as was the writing itself. The main character going on about how she was in love with this girl, but she couldn't possibly be, but oh wasn't she?? I don't mind it when that's done in moderation. But please, for the love of god, don't make your entire book that. The MC's internal thoughts would just cycle through the same three internal monologues and it was boring as fuck. The Plot/Pacing I was here because this book was recommended to me as a cute f/f romance. So naturally, I came in expecting a cute f/f romance. And it was there for the first half of the book!! Despite the insta-love at the very beginning, I actually found the first half rather cute. But, of course, that couldn't last. First of all, what the fuck was the point of the cheating storyline?? Like, everything was going fine, they were doing f i n e, there was absolutely no need for more drama, and yet, there it was. I really don't like cheating storylines. And this one was just the cherry on top of a very badly prepared cake. I also thought that the author definitely bit off more than she could chew when it came to discussing certain serious issues. This book does a good job of hinting at discussing racism between different people of color and how that's still an issue. However, it never... goes further with that conversation. The main character says a lot of racist things to her girlfriend's Latinx friends and it's just never addressed beyond "oh, but I didn't mean it in a racist way"... I am a white person, though, so take my opinion on this with a grain of salt. The Characters Sana was incredibly boring to me. She read as childish and unrealistic and not at all like she was a high school student. And this is coming from someone who is currently a high school student. I absolutely cannot imagine me or any of my (nonexistent) friends acting the way Sana does in this book, so that's on that. And I'm not going to go on another spiel about how all of the side characters felt really underdeveloped, but all of the side characters felt really underdeveloped. I felt like Jamie's only identifying characteristic was that she was Sana's love interest and that is... just not the way to go. Overall There was so much potential here and I wish this had been done better because we really could have had it all with this one.

  11. 4 out of 5

    alexandra

    DNF at 30% // i was really excited to read this – a f/f contemporary ft a Japanese MC with a Mexican love interest?! yes pls. but.... i couldn't even get halfway. here are some thoughts: (1) this main character is so. annoying. she's extremely stubborn and close-minded and refuses to see things around her. Sana is constantly arguing with her mother and it feels like she refuses to see things from her perspective. of course, her mom is very traditional Japanese and didn't grow up in America, so OB DNF at 30% // i was really excited to read this – a f/f contemporary ft a Japanese MC with a Mexican love interest?! yes pls. but.... i couldn't even get halfway. here are some thoughts: (1) this main character is so. annoying. she's extremely stubborn and close-minded and refuses to see things around her. Sana is constantly arguing with her mother and it feels like she refuses to see things from her perspective. of course, her mom is very traditional Japanese and didn't grow up in America, so OBVIOUSLY, they won't agree on everything. but Sana seems shocked and annoyed that her mom isn't like "other moms" aka white moms. it's frustrating and heartbreaking. i feel like the same goes for her relationships with her friends. (2) all the characters were cardboard cutouts of every stereotype ever – except Jamie, the love interest, who's "different." at Sana's new school she immediately becomes friends with a group of Asian girls who look down on the other cliques: the goths (which are over exaggerated), the Mexicans (she actually groups them like that), the cheerleaders, and so on. the school setting felt like exactly High School Musical. everyone around the two leads are telling them to "stick to the status quo," but it's SO unrealistic. (3) the somewhat rascist remarks are really offensive. i think they're meant to be; they're rascist. but the way it was portrayed just made it seem artificial. i know people always make rascist comments and assumptions (i'm a POC myself), but this was a little too painful to watch. i think the author was trying to make a point on the rascism POC face, but instead it just made is feel clique-y and stereotypical. however painful, i think it was really necessary. i didn't enjoy hearing it but it needed to be said. (it's just the way it was shown... ugh i dunno) (4) the romance itself is so cringey. i was excited when i heard this was going to be a f/f novel, but it's mostly Sana being extremely stalkerish and awkward. she immediately falls in love on first sight and tries to impress her in painful ways. Jame (the love interest), on the hand, seems unreadable. i can never tell if she actually likes Sana – as a friend or something more. i wanted to enjoy It's Not Like It's a Secret, but it really really fell short. i can't tell if it's because i listened to the audiobook and i was trying out audiobooks or of it's actually disappointing. either way, i don't think i'll be continuing.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ilana

    Misa Sugiura is a beautiful writer, and this book is wondrous, engaging, important, and will be beloved by many.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

    A few months back, I became aware that SECRET had cheating as one of its largest themes. Admittedly this discouraged me a bit, but I was still intrigued to read it as it was on my TBR for almost a year. Surprisingly the cheating characters wasn't my biggest gripe (although it really ruined my experience)- it was the instalove between the two MCs, Sana & Jaime. Except physical appeal, I had no clue why these two were attracted to each other. This led me to not believe their relationship as it evo A few months back, I became aware that SECRET had cheating as one of its largest themes. Admittedly this discouraged me a bit, but I was still intrigued to read it as it was on my TBR for almost a year. Surprisingly the cheating characters wasn't my biggest gripe (although it really ruined my experience)- it was the instalove between the two MCs, Sana & Jaime. Except physical appeal, I had no clue why these two were attracted to each other. This led me to not believe their relationship as it evolved, nor care about the outcome. I've been turning away from YA romances recently but anything that's F/F you can pretty much bet I have on my TBR so naturally I was rooting for their relationship. However, it quickly fizzled out considering that Sana & Jaime really had nothing in common & it was more of an opportunistic occurrence out of convenience rather than a genuine romance. Add onto this & the fact that the MCs basically cheat on each other- it's more complex than that, but no spoilers 🚫. Their lack of communication really turned me off- I know this is a realistic aspect of many teen relationships, but I already wasn't feeling it, so. 👻 Sana also discovers that her father is seeing another woman, which brings some interesting conversations about Asian culture & her mother's opinion on it. There were a few pros to this book, so it wasn't a complete wash. The racism between minorities & prejudices of Asian & Mexican cultures raises necessary & uncomfortable discussions & tackles stereotypes. While I can't say it was all tackled with finesse & gentleness, I am glad that Sugiura included them. I'm not surprised by Sana's mother's reaction to Sana's coming out, but I did appreciate the role her parents had in her life. I was really hoping IT'S NOT LIKE IT'S A SECRET to be heavy on the romance & less on cheating/instalove/shitty stereotypes, but I'm satisfied that I at least know I didn't miss out on anything. The pacing is fine, the prose could have been stronger (as well as the poem concept!), & the ending is too tidy, but overall a halfway decent read on a day off.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sonia

    This book was different than many other YA I've read in its honest and complex portrayal of race, all within the context of a burgeoning lesbian romance. Sana is a believable and relatable protagonist, caught between trying to satisfy her strict parents and also feel like part of her peer group. I loved the tie-ins with poetry and the way Sana was able to find herself in the words of others. This book was different than many other YA I've read in its honest and complex portrayal of race, all within the context of a burgeoning lesbian romance. Sana is a believable and relatable protagonist, caught between trying to satisfy her strict parents and also feel like part of her peer group. I loved the tie-ins with poetry and the way Sana was able to find herself in the words of others.

  15. 5 out of 5

    sally♡

    I? Loved? this? Book??? Ive seen some less positive reviews on It's Not Like It's a Secret and I totally! disagree!!! I jumped into this book with the expectation of some adorable f/f romance and just relatable teenager characters. Instead, I got some adorable f/f romance and just relatable teenager characters PLUS a lot of racist/stereotype confrontations, making the reader step back and think about how our society truly works. ⚡️ Some fabulous things ⚡️ * Character development and adorable teen g I? Loved? this? Book??? Ive seen some less positive reviews on It's Not Like It's a Secret and I totally! disagree!!! I jumped into this book with the expectation of some adorable f/f romance and just relatable teenager characters. Instead, I got some adorable f/f romance and just relatable teenager characters PLUS a lot of racist/stereotype confrontations, making the reader step back and think about how our society truly works. ⚡️ Some fabulous things ⚡️ * Character development and adorable teen girls * Really cute girl-girl romance and struggles to discover identity, but like in a good way (???) * Honest to goodness this cover art * Deals with important subjects like racism and how the general population views certain people of color can change lives * Im sHiPpIng Jamie x Sana deguiwasbjdakbm * Heyyyy it's set in Cali and so I totally get the weather thing (used to live there) * JUST REALLY CUTE * Meaningful poetry sprinkled throughout this book (I just used sprinkled in a sentence Im so happy) * fbuisafh9bciwuafh my heart broke a bit * Family acceptance * Japanese culture!! Soo cool * I was so proud I could read the Spanish when characters spoke in here * This is the First Book Ever To Use Actual Emojis When Characters Are Texting *gasps* ⚡️ Some... less fabulous things ⚡️ * Soooo... I get that this book is dealing with racist topics and all, and that's so great, but some of the lines in here had me like "what the heck was THAT" for example... "But you can't be a lesbian. You're Asian. Asian girls aren't lesbians!" ??!!??!?!? "Maybe that's because Mexican kids don't do their homework." ha ha ha what. * "I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding." d i e But other than that this book was so fabulous and will forever have a place in my heart! Five amazing stars!!! Also I finished this within a day (Christmas, too) so I deserve some cake

  16. 5 out of 5

    CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨

    Wow. I am blown away. This was a challenging book to read, but the realistic and frank discussions about racism and prejudice were refreshing, difficult, but necessary. - To address the elephant in the room: yes, this book does has several instances of racism towards Mexican individuals and there are some parts that are certainly difficult to read. However, I felt like the racism was either challenged or addressed, either in-text, through internal monologue, or clearly through subtext. - Sana wa Wow. I am blown away. This was a challenging book to read, but the realistic and frank discussions about racism and prejudice were refreshing, difficult, but necessary. - To address the elephant in the room: yes, this book does has several instances of racism towards Mexican individuals and there are some parts that are certainly difficult to read. However, I felt like the racism was either challenged or addressed, either in-text, through internal monologue, or clearly through subtext. - Sana was a fantastic protagonist. She is confused, ignorant, lost, and makes many mistakes, some of which I can see some readers seeing as unforgivable. I see Sana as a very realistic teenager and someone who doesn't know what is right, and I think that vulnerability made her a brilliant character. - The discussions around sexuality were nuanced and complex, especially when intersecting with culture as well. - All the characters in this book were developed, fully realized, and interesting, especially Sana's family and their dynamic. Full review to come.

  17. 4 out of 5

    belle ☆ミ (thisbellereadstoo)

    other than sana's personal problems, i appreciated that the book focused highly on racism. for this book, the dialogue remains mainly between the asian and mexican community. about the unwarranted accusations they faced because of how they dress, the overly perpetuated stereotypes based on their race, and the unsaid expectations because of the colour of their skin. even between the two minority groups, there’s discrimination based on bias and preconceived notions. sadly, the execution was a littl other than sana's personal problems, i appreciated that the book focused highly on racism. for this book, the dialogue remains mainly between the asian and mexican community. about the unwarranted accusations they faced because of how they dress, the overly perpetuated stereotypes based on their race, and the unsaid expectations because of the colour of their skin. even between the two minority groups, there’s discrimination based on bias and preconceived notions. sadly, the execution was a little underwhelming and lacklustre. i thought that some of the characters should be called out for their words/actions. there were multiple times where sana could’ve spoken up for the people being stereotyped, and there were times where she could’ve spoken up for herself when she faced discrimination. i know it’s all part of her character development, that she slowly learns that she shouldn’t keep quiet anymore, but i wish there were conversations after that offered her a chance to be vocal. also, i didn't like some of the characters especially one of sana's friend who was very pushy. sana and jamie's romance was a little too fast. for sana, it was love at first sight while for jamie, we can see the attraction build up. oh, and about sana, (view spoiler)[ i can't believe that she used caleb as a backup. i don't think she even had any attraction to caleb. she took advantage of his feeling for her for granted, and to make jamie jealous. eye. roll. (hide spoiler)] honestly, i don't even want to talk about the family drama because i totally skimmed during those parts. it took a huge chunk of my enjoyment out. that's about it. i'm sad that i didn't like it. i really enjoyed misa sugiura's other book that i read this year too. unfortunately, it's not like it's a secret didn't work out for me.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Meags

    DNF @ chapter 8 I was looking forward to this one, but the prominent themes of racial stereotyping and the way it was (mis)handled irritated the hell out of me. In the few chapters I slugged through I was constantly facing one unlikeable character after another which is not the way to endear me to a book. (view spoiler)[And now I hear there is cheating between the MCs?? (hide spoiler)] . I'm out. DNF @ chapter 8 I was looking forward to this one, but the prominent themes of racial stereotyping and the way it was (mis)handled irritated the hell out of me. In the few chapters I slugged through I was constantly facing one unlikeable character after another which is not the way to endear me to a book. (view spoiler)[And now I hear there is cheating between the MCs?? (hide spoiler)] . I'm out.

  19. 5 out of 5

    lov2laf

    This is available as an audiobook on Scribd. I think it has a lot of relevant observations when it comes to being the child of immigrants and I'm happy to see more representation of diversity in lesfic. That said, I became bored. The story takes on a lot and, upon hearing that cheating is ahead, I don't care to finish. No rating. This is available as an audiobook on Scribd. I think it has a lot of relevant observations when it comes to being the child of immigrants and I'm happy to see more representation of diversity in lesfic. That said, I became bored. The story takes on a lot and, upon hearing that cheating is ahead, I don't care to finish. No rating.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Claude's Bookzone

    3.5 Stars CW: Racism and stereotyping, (view spoiler)[cheating, extramarital affair, issue of lesbian girl dating a boy just to be sure she isn’t straight. (hide spoiler)] The wonderful thing about being part of the Goodreads community is reading reviews from people whose world views, life experiences and personal truths are different from my own. Through my lense and with my YA librarian glasses on this book is a cutely awkward high school love story. I enjoyed the dynamics between some of the ch 3.5 Stars CW: Racism and stereotyping, (view spoiler)[cheating, extramarital affair, issue of lesbian girl dating a boy just to be sure she isn’t straight. (hide spoiler)] The wonderful thing about being part of the Goodreads community is reading reviews from people whose world views, life experiences and personal truths are different from my own. Through my lense and with my YA librarian glasses on this book is a cutely awkward high school love story. I enjoyed the dynamics between some of the characters and thought the romance, whilst a bit instalovey and shallow, was still sweet. Readers be warned though, there are some hugely racist comments and attitudes throughout the novel between different POC. It is an important issue to tackle but it just seemed to be casually treated as ‘the way things are’. In my opinion there were little to no attempts to deal with this inappropriate behaviour in the novel so that was disappointing. I am also not sure if this was an authentic or healthy coming out journey so I recommend reading some own voice reviews as well. Overall though this was an enjoyable read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Stoolfire

    When Sana Kiyohara and her family move to California from Wisconsin, she decides it's time to be honest with herself. She has a crush on her best friend, Jamie Ramirez. She's smart, beautiful, and different from anyone Sana's known before. There are a few problems with this - Sana's new friends don't trust Jamie's, Jamie's friends don't seem to want Sana around, and a classmate named Caleb appears to have more than friendly feelings for Sana. Plus, Sana doesn't know how well her strict Japanese When Sana Kiyohara and her family move to California from Wisconsin, she decides it's time to be honest with herself. She has a crush on her best friend, Jamie Ramirez. She's smart, beautiful, and different from anyone Sana's known before. There are a few problems with this - Sana's new friends don't trust Jamie's, Jamie's friends don't seem to want Sana around, and a classmate named Caleb appears to have more than friendly feelings for Sana. Plus, Sana doesn't know how well her strict Japanese parents will react to Jamie as a friend, let alone as a girlfriend. Not to mention, her father's affair is becoming to obvious for her to just ignore. Sana always thought that the hardest thing would be telling people that she wants to date a girl (and revealing that the truth about her father's affair), but it turns out that it's the stuff that comes afterward is what's really difficult and complicated. I really lucked out with It's Not Like It's A Secret by Misa Sugiura. I won an ARC of this YA debut via Epic Reads (it's always exciting to receive unexpected bookmail!) and so far it easily ranks as one of my favorite reads of 2017. I'd even go so far as to say that this is going to be one of my all time favorite YA Contemporaries. YA Contemporary isn't normally one of my go-to genres, but this debut immediately caught my attention as a diverse LGBTQIA contemporary romance with a Japanese-American and Mexican-American at the center. Sana is a great leading character and she feels incredibly real and relatable. She's flawed, makes mistakes, and is kind of selfish; she feels like she could walk out right out of the pages of the novel. Sana also really grows into herself and that's wonderful to see over the course of the story. I can also say the same about Jamie - it was wonderful to get to know her too. I also want to mention that I was also intrigued by reading more featuring Japanese-American culture in YA. I started studying Japanese in college and I'll have to admit that I was pleased to recognize and/ or remember the Romaji that appears (this book uses a different system than the one I've primarily been studying). On top of everything, the author gracefully discusses difficult topics with great skill and sensitivity. Overall, It's Not Like It's A Secret by Misa Sugiura is the best YA Contemporary I've read this year and is one of the best YA debuts of the year at that. This coming-of-age novel is an absolute must-read. If you like Becky Albertalli, David Leviathan, and Rainbow Rowell, you will definitely like Misa Sugiura. I'm looking forward to her next project!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rana

    It's gotta mean something when I'm as frustrated by actual teenagers as I am with teenaged characters. I guess it means the author is writing her characters accurately. Because damned, this was frustrating. Teenagers are stupid in love. Well, everybody is, but teenagers are really stupid in love. It's gotta mean something when I'm as frustrated by actual teenagers as I am with teenaged characters. I guess it means the author is writing her characters accurately. Because damned, this was frustrating. Teenagers are stupid in love. Well, everybody is, but teenagers are really stupid in love.

  23. 5 out of 5

    PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps

    As a white, middle-aged American woman, reviewing IT’S NOT LIKE IT’S A SECRET is difficult. I grew up in a small town and could count the number of nonwhite students on one hand. Having never attended a large, multiracial school, I don’t know if students sticking to their race groups is common, or whether the rampant subtle and not so subtle bias and racism between cultures. Race and bias permeates every aspect of IT’S NOT LIKE IT’S A SECRET. I suppose my white privilege doesn’t see race as much As a white, middle-aged American woman, reviewing IT’S NOT LIKE IT’S A SECRET is difficult. I grew up in a small town and could count the number of nonwhite students on one hand. Having never attended a large, multiracial school, I don’t know if students sticking to their race groups is common, or whether the rampant subtle and not so subtle bias and racism between cultures. Race and bias permeates every aspect of IT’S NOT LIKE IT’S A SECRET. I suppose my white privilege doesn’t see race as much of an issue, because as a person in the majority, I don’t have to face it. I was surprised to see so much blatant, overt racism and cringed often throughout the book. The most special aspect of Misa Sugiura’s was Sana’s relationship with her hyper-critical mother. Sana discovered father’s affair, destroying her respect for him. She alternates between feeling sorry and angry for her mother while wondering if telling her mother would help or hurt. This leads to a surprising, heartbreaking and interesting conclusion. The lesbian romance aspect of IT’S NOT LIKE IT’S A SECRET underwhelmed me. At times I loved the friendships, at times I found them limiting and unhealthy. IT’S NOT LIKE IT’S A SECRET may be a better or worse book than my experience with it. I’m interested in reading how Japanese and other Asian readers feel, as well as how Latinas feel.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Janine Andersen

    I appreciated hearing Sana's voice in this story. Her relationship with her culture and her mother are complicated. She is a 16 year old girl struggling to find her niche in high school. She would like to have a tribe of friends that understand her, someone to love her and to make real connections to the people in her lives. I see Sana as someone who is brave. She makes mistakes, has flaws, and misperceptions about her peers, her parents and her love interest. I see that she does grow. She chall I appreciated hearing Sana's voice in this story. Her relationship with her culture and her mother are complicated. She is a 16 year old girl struggling to find her niche in high school. She would like to have a tribe of friends that understand her, someone to love her and to make real connections to the people in her lives. I see Sana as someone who is brave. She makes mistakes, has flaws, and misperceptions about her peers, her parents and her love interest. I see that she does grow. She challenges herself to step outside her comfort zone to be more open, truthful and to make amends with her friends, Jaime and her mother. Ultimately, she is rewarded with connection to those she loves. There are many difficult topics that the characters navigate and by choosing to share their own perspectives and experiences they help others to confront their own misperceptions. Through sharing, all the characters learn, grow, make connections and appreciate one another's uniqueness. Ideally, isn't that what we should all be striving to do?

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gillian

    It’s Not Like It’s A Secret (3.5/5) by Misa Sugiura follows Sana, a 16-year-old Japanese-American girl, and how she navigates the world as she’s realizing she’s a lesbian, moving across the country for her father’s new job, suspecting her father of having an affair, and juggling romance and conflicting expectations at her new school in California. Almost immediately after moving, she falls for Jamie— a Mexican-American schoolmate who she joins the cross-country team for— and soon after, drama en It’s Not Like It’s A Secret (3.5/5) by Misa Sugiura follows Sana, a 16-year-old Japanese-American girl, and how she navigates the world as she’s realizing she’s a lesbian, moving across the country for her father’s new job, suspecting her father of having an affair, and juggling romance and conflicting expectations at her new school in California. Almost immediately after moving, she falls for Jamie— a Mexican-American schoolmate who she joins the cross-country team for— and soon after, drama ensues. Sugiura does a great job of exploring Sana’s internal monologue and how she deals with racism that she experiences, her own racism and biases, her strict mother and dysfunctional family dynamics, peer pressure and lesbophobia from her friends, and more. I really love how the book explores different kinds of racism and interracial racism/dynamics (anti-Asian and anti-Latinx racism). Sana is definitely not perfect, and I found myself getting frustrated at the many mistakes and comments she makes throughout, but it’s also easy to understand how she would get mixed up in a web of lies and confusion and trying/failing/succeeding at doing the right thing. Even though it made me angry to read, I can empathize with her and I could understand, to an extent, why she did all that she did. However, it was frustrating seeing different characters’ racism, especially Sana’s racist biases against Jaime’s friends, because you expect better from her and it felt like that part was mostly brushed over until near the end. My biggest critique is that since the author is not a lesbian, she doesn’t exactly capture and articulate the nuances of comphet like a lesbian would. While I appreciate that she’s trying to capture the internal monologue of a young teen coming to grips with her sexuality, it felt inauthentic and this left me feeling frustrated at times. Overall, while this was book was a bit anxiety-inducing for me as I found myself wanting to yell at the main character “DO THE RIGHT THING!!” it remains fairly lighthearted, I really enjoyed it, and I recommend it! CW: racism, cheating, lesbophobia, racial profiling from police

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sue (Hollywood News Source)

    I am very excited for this book. We need more WLW books in YA especially ones that are written by authors of color.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kara Babcock

    My friend Rebecca gave this to me as a birthday gift last year. This was a really tough week for me, so I finally picked it up off the shelf because I knew she had inscribed it (as I do with my book gifts!), and I wanted to reread the lovely, lengthy message from her and then dive into a YA book. Whether it’s fluffier or heavier, there is something about YA I find very reassuring when I’m down. Something about the way that authors have to consider carefully how they engage with and portray these My friend Rebecca gave this to me as a birthday gift last year. This was a really tough week for me, so I finally picked it up off the shelf because I knew she had inscribed it (as I do with my book gifts!), and I wanted to reread the lovely, lengthy message from her and then dive into a YA book. Whether it’s fluffier or heavier, there is something about YA I find very reassuring when I’m down. Something about the way that authors have to consider carefully how they engage with and portray these issues for readers who might be encountering or going through similar issues for the first times in their lives. Young adult fiction isn’t simpler or lighter or less complex than other types of fiction. With the many layers and nuances of It’s Not Like It’s a Secret, Misa Sugiura demonstrates how, if anything, the opposite is often true. Sana Kiyohara leaves behind her life in Wisconsin for the more cosmopolitan California. For the first time in her life, she is living somewhere with other Asian people of various backgrounds, including people her age to spend time with. She finds herself part of a “group”, making friends she never thought she would have. And from her attraction to her best friend in Wisconsin and now a new friend in California, Sana’s thinking she’s gay. This is all a lot for a teenager to deal with, for sure, but to make matters more complicated, Sana thinks her dad is having an affair—but her mom seems characteristically unconcerned by any hints Sana drops. I liked It’s Not Like It’s a Secret because it isn’t just about Sana’s particular struggles. Sugiura encompasses a lot of characters’ struggles. In addition to Sana’s experiences, Sugiura explores what life is like for a married immigrant Japanese couple, particularly one who is a stay-at-home mother who has, all her life, built her life around the idea of enduring. Sugiura also explores the variety of ways in which teenagers respond to their parents’ attitudes and methods of upbringing. Finally, with the main climax of the novel is a potent reminder that even when you have the best of intentions, it is still possible (even easy) to cross lines that shouldn’t be crossed. Sana’s relationship with her mother fascinates me for several reasons. Obviously, I’ve never been a participant in a mother–daughter relationship, so portrayals of this in fiction and in my friends’ lives help me better understand this unique bond. Sana’s mother obviously wants what’s “best” for Sana, yet her methods for encouraging and instructing her daughter don’t always resonate with Sana’s more American upbringing. While these kinds of intergenerational stories of immigrant families aren’t exactly rare, Sugiura is specifically examining what it’s like for a Japanese woman to raise an American-born daughter, and that’s an experience I haven’t read much about. Sana doesn’t exactly resent her mother’s behaviour at any point; she seems rather mature, actually. It’s more that she just gets frustrated, as a teenager (or, let’s be honest, child of any age) is wont to do when a parent isn’t acting the way they’d like. Sugiura also deals deftly with race and racism, examining the ways in which non-white people can still engage in racist behaviours and inadvertently normalize or support white supremacy. Sana is Japanese and therefore falls victim to the “model minority Asian” stereotype, which is in stark contrast to Jamie’s Mexican heritage causing teachers and other authority figures to doubt her or even suspect her of criminal activity. It takes a while for Sana to recognize her privilege relative to Jamie’s friend group. There are a couple of fairly unsubtle scenes, and there are also a few scenes that are more subtle and interesting in the way the conversational dynamic turns against Sana, and as the narrator, she privately relates to us that “oh shit!” feeling when she realizes she is in the wrong. Sugiura recapitulates this when we reach the climax and Sana does some not-so-nice things she later regrets. I really like that Sana is a flawed protagonist who messes up badly. The ending is, as Sugiura lampshades through one of her characters, a little too much like a movie. It isn’t really my jam, but if it’s yours, you’re welcome to it! I prefer, though, the way that Sana has to grow and come to terms with the fact that you can’t hit an undo button on life: your future actions don’t erase your mistakes; they only let you build on top of them. Watching Sana get rebuffed the first few times she tries to make nice is slightly painful and awkward, but it’s also a necessary part of the narrative. And I like that Sugiura resists the temptation to make Sana or Jamie the villain and the other one the wronged party. While that’s definitely a narrative in some real life relationships, often the situation is a lot more complex, and the economy of fiction doesn’t always capture that as well as It’s Not Like It’s a Secret does, both between Sana and Jamie as well as in the situation with Sana’s father. It’s Not Like It’s a Secret features queer characters and characters of various racial backgrounds—yet this isn’t really a book about coming out (although Sana does) or a “book about race”, if you know what I mean. These are issues among other issues within the story, and I like that, in this way, it rather normalizes these concepts. Coming out stories are important, but so are stories where the protagonist’s queerness is just another part of their adolescence they have to figure out. Similarly, I love books that tackle race and racism head-on—but I also like when they confront it as part of the fabric of the narrative, much like race and racism are an unfortunate thread in the fabric of our society. In short, this is a book that accomplishes the goals it very clearly sets out to accomplish. It’s not perfect: on an individual, scene-by-scene level the writing doesn’t always work for me. Most of the characters, despite having distinctive personalities, feel like they fall into stock roles quite easily. Nevertheless, these quibbles fade into the background when I consider my overall impression of the story. It’s Not Like It’s a Secret is one of those books that is more than the sum of its parts.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shenwei

    Closer to 4.5 stars? Would be 5 if there weren't some small things that bugged me. I ugly cried in the bookstore while reading this oops. In this book you will find: cute gay moments, teen angst, complicated family issues, uncomfortable but honest conversations about race, utterly realistic human messiness, and more. Full review to come. I went into this with my guard up because I'd heard it had issues wrt to the Mexican/Latinx rep, and while I was hoping that the issues had been fixed post-sensiti Closer to 4.5 stars? Would be 5 if there weren't some small things that bugged me. I ugly cried in the bookstore while reading this oops. In this book you will find: cute gay moments, teen angst, complicated family issues, uncomfortable but honest conversations about race, utterly realistic human messiness, and more. Full review to come. I went into this with my guard up because I'd heard it had issues wrt to the Mexican/Latinx rep, and while I was hoping that the issues had been fixed post-sensitivity reads, there are no guarantees. As excited as I was about the Asian and queer rep (btw, the author is straight as far as I know, so the queer rep is non-#ownvoices), I wanted to approach it critically. Now that I've read it, I'll share my thoughts and observations. Obviously, because I'm not Mexican/Latinx, I won't be as sensitive to issues for those groups, so it's possible I missed things, and my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt. Overall, I feel like the narrative did a decent job handling the racial rep and tensions between Asian and Latinx people. Sana's mother, her Asian friends, and Sana herself have and express certain internalized biases/stereotypes regarding Mexican/Latinx people, but these issues were pretty consistently addressed on the page through various means, whether it was Sana calling someone out, Sana getting called out by others, or the narration from Sana's POV expressing discomfort with what was going on and/or recognizing that what was happening was wrong. Sana explicitly admits/owns her bias/racism and unpacks it and works to make amends with the people she hurts with her insensitivity. The framing of racism didn't dig into its systemic roots, but it at least tackled implicit bias and racial profiling. It was honest but self-critical about internalized bias. Just to be safe, here's the page numbers for the scenes where the anti-Mexican racism comes up: 27, 41, 74, 84, 90, 163, 229, 231, 234. Based on my intermediate knowledge of Spanish, the Spanish used in the book was okay as far as grammar goes (can't speak to nuances since I'm not a native speaker and didn't learn as much of the casual usage). There were a few places that were missing accent marks. Not sure if that was a copyediting issue or what since the author stated in her acknowledgements that she had native speakers help her with the language. If anyone knows of any Mexican readers who have reviewed the book for the rep, please let me know so I can link to their reviews!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Flora⁷ ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ

    me: hoe don't do it sana: *cheats* me: oh my god by the end of the book my respect for sana yeeted itself out of the window the first 300 pages deserve 4 or 5 stars, but then The Thing happend .... and yEET. Big fucking Nope. me: hoe don't do it sana: *cheats* me: oh my god by the end of the book my respect for sana yeeted itself out of the window the first 300 pages deserve 4 or 5 stars, but then The Thing happend .... and yEET. Big fucking Nope.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sylvs (NOVELty Reads)

    TRIGGER WARNING: Racism, racial stereotyping, homophobia, cheating (in a relationship) Scroll past if you liked this book because I'm going to be brutal in this review. I wish I didn't have to be brutal here but I genuinely couldn't overlook the blatantly racist nature of the characters and the overall boredom I experienced during my read. It's Not Like It's A Secret wasn't even that long but it felt like I was reading it forever. Nothing really happened, there was no climax or anything that red TRIGGER WARNING: Racism, racial stereotyping, homophobia, cheating (in a relationship) Scroll past if you liked this book because I'm going to be brutal in this review. I wish I didn't have to be brutal here but I genuinely couldn't overlook the blatantly racist nature of the characters and the overall boredom I experienced during my read. It's Not Like It's A Secret wasn't even that long but it felt like I was reading it forever. Nothing really happened, there was no climax or anything that redeemed this book enough for me to rate it even three stars. From the blurb we are told that this book would be a sapphic YA romance about a Japanese-American girl who discovers that her dad is cheating on her mother with another woman. I did like that aspect of the book, however, it felt really downplayed. There was never any dramatic event or a real exploration of the main character, Sana's feelings towards it apart from what was mentioned pretty briefly. I tried finding elements of intrigue that would make me love this story but I found that everything just went way too slowly for my liking. It would've been much more bearable if I enjoyed the characters too especially since as a writer and a reader, I'm very character focused. Characters come before anything else including plot. I can excuse you for a poorly executed plot or story only if you have characters that are *chef's kiss* well-written. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case for me. To me, Sana was such a bland character to read about. There was nothing that attracted me to her character or made me want to read about her. At first, she felt like a walking, talking stereotype but as the book progressed, I found her to be incredibly selfish, assumption-making and overall judgemental. If you read the book, you'll know exactly why I say that. There was one scene in particular where she said extremely racist things towards her Mexican crush and her friends (who were also Mexicans). When confronted about the things she said, she just said "I just wish I could explain that I didn't mean what I said in a racist way" which honestly made me spiral in a fitful of absolute rage. I was so close to DNF'ing this book just due to that conversation exchange alone. Say all you want about how in the end, Sana did learn a lesson that she shouldn't make assumptions and that this scene was necessary for her character development, but the way in which this was executed just felt so wrong and I felt so uncomfortable reading about it. To make things even worse, when worried about her and Jamie's relationship diminishing, instead of trusting Jamie or communicating about their feelings about one another, Sana used another character and lead them on which was so not okay. The worst part was that instead of telling this character straight away that she didn't like them in any way, she kept playing around with their feelings which turned into an ugly mess that was so inexcusable that if I were one of her friends, I'd run for the hills. There was no excuse for what she did and even though I'm glad she learnt her lesson for her racist comments and for her manipulation and lies, it did not in any way excuse her appalling behaviour. I honestly have no clue how she redeemed herself after all that or how she still had friends. With almost zero trust in their relationship, I'm surprised that even Jamie wanted to stick around with Sana even though she showed a lot of disrespect towards her race. I would've broken up on the spot if I was her. By the end of the book, I was so done with her and I was extremely close to losing it and taking it out on my poor wall. I think I need a very long break from YA romance for a while to get over this book. If there was any sign the universe is trying to make me read more fantasy or other genres, this was it. ACTUAL RATING: 1.8 STARS

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