Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to review this title ahead of its release date.
THIS MY BRAIN IN LOVE is told by two POV’s, Jocelyn and Will and set in Utica New York. Joc is the daughter of Chinese restaurant owners, struggling to keep afloat. She crosses paths with Will whom she hires to jumpstart the business, otherwise, her family would have to move. He helps with social media, getting the accounts out of the Stone Age, and narrowly missing death by a Chinese father when he falls for Joc and vice versa.
Joc is a clever and down to earth protagonist that we can all relate to. But she is also a perfectionist and can come across as callous at times. Will, having anxiety himself, recognizes something in Joc that concerns him. Will is an all-around nice guy and is so super sweet to Joc and her family and friends. I loved him as a love interest and protagonist.
Both main characters are persons of color. Will is half Nigerian and Joc is the daughter of Chinese immigrants. Together, they were a refreshing pair. Unlike a lot of YA contemporaries, their eventual romance is held back by more than just outside interference. Although we do have the classic, harsh Chinese parents who set restrictions on their relationship. But Will’s habit of not wanting to make people uncomfortable about his condition and Joc’s denial of her own makes for a rocky road.
Joc’s friend, Priya is the best, but I did wish we saw more of Will’s friends. The references to movie culture and food drew me in. I am a sucker for any book set against a restaurant, food truck, ANYTHING WITH FOOD. I am familiar with American Chinese food (my fav!) but I loved learning about Nigerian food and I promptly looked for restaurants in my area!
Against the backdrop of yummy Chinese food and teenage love, is the topic of mental health and the stigma that holds people back from properly addressing their concerns. I think this book hit the mark with how most people feel when faced with the idea that they may have depression, anxiety or any other mental illness. This book will resonate with the YA community for its diversity and realistic portrayal of mental illness.
BEWARE: this book will make you hungry.