I knew that THIS IS MY BRAIN IN LOVE by I. W. Gregorio was going to be a cute read but, boy oh boy, there is so much more to this book than I expected! As a YA contemporary romance novel I was very impressed that the book not only depicted a budding romance well but flawlessly explored mental health issues and race in such an open, honest, and beautiful way!
Jocelyn Wu’s family owns and runs A-Plus Chinese Garden and unfortunately business is not going well. In fact, if things don’t turn around soon the Wu’s will have to close their restaurant and move. For a High School senior, moving away is not an option for Jocelyn so she takes it upon herself to save the business with the help of newly hired fellow senior Will Domenici. Their partnership is tenuous at first but the two quickly become more than just colleagues. Though family prejudices threaten to keep them apart, Jocelyn and Will quickly find that the fate of the restaurant and their relationship is tied together!
There is a lot to love about this book. First and foremost, race and mental health issues were not just parts of the story that were added to check diversity boxes, these elements were integral to the characters and plot of the entire book. Jocelyn’s Chinese heritage and Will’s Nigerian/Italian heritage are both central to their characters and help us understand their family relationships. As well, depression and anxiety are depicted authentically. There is a beautiful afterword in which the author discusses her own relationship to depression, her experiences definitely gave her writing such candor and depth. I’d be remiss not to mention that this book will make you hungry! From Jocelyn’s Amah’s jiaozi and youtiao and Will’s mom’s jollof rice and egusi stew, I was salivating the entire time!
THIS IS MY BRAIN IN LOVE has something for everyone! There are sweet, awkward, and adorable romcom elements; there are thoughtful discussions on race and being first generation immigrants in the USA; and a sincere explorations of mental health and self-acceptance.
NOVL and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers provided the book for honest review.
- Title: This is My Brain in Love
- Author: I. W. Gregorio
- Published: April 14, 2020 (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
- Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
- Booky Nooky Rating: * * * *