FICTION

This Is My Brain in Love

Little, Brown. Apr. 2020. 384p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316423823.
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Gr 8 Up–Jocelyn Wu has a plan to save her family’s struggling Chinese restaurant in Utica, NY. With her father’s reluctant approval she decides to hire a summer intern to help out at the restaurant and increase its online presence. Enter William Domenici, new intern and aspiring journalist looking for a story. Will and Jos hit it off; although they are very different, they have a lot in common. Jos, an American-born Chinese girl, and Will, the son of a Nigerian doctor and an Italian lawyer, are both entering junior year of high school and don’t exactly blend into the background of their predominantly white, upstate New York town. Told in alternating first-person chapters, the story quickly immerses readers in the drama that unfolds over the course of the summer: Can the restaurant be saved? Will Jos and Will get together despite Mr. Wu’s strict rules? Issues of mental health also come into play. Will, diagnosed with an anxiety disorder when he was younger, has spent years learning how to manage his anxiety with the help of his therapist. It is his sensitivity to mental health issues that enables him to encourage Jos to seek help for her depression.
VERDICT Deftly navigating issues of race and mental health, as well as giving voice to the reality of American teens born to immigrant families, many of whom grapple with different cultural and familial expectations, Gregorio, a founding member of We Need Diverse Books, has written a heartwarming foodie rom-com. Recommended for fans of realistic fiction.

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