Review: Ophelia After All by Racquel Marie

Summary: Ophelia Rojas knows what she likes: her best friends, Cuban food, rose-gardening, and boys – way too many boys. Her friends and parents make fun of her endless stream of crushes, but Ophelia is a romantic at heart. She couldn’t change, even if she wanted to.

So when she finds herself thinking more about cute, quiet Talia Sanchez than the loss of a perfect prom with her ex-boyfriend, seeds of doubt take root in Ophelia’s firm image of herself. Add to that the impending end of high school and the fracturing of her once-solid friend group, and things are spiraling a little out of control. But the course of love–and sexuality–never did run smooth. As her secrets begin to unravel, Ophelia must make a choice between clinging to the fantasy version of herself she’s always imagined or upending everyone’s expectations to rediscover who she really is, after all.

Genre: contemporary, young adult, lgbt, romance
Rating: ★★★★

Young adult contemporary has a ridiculous hold on me, but honestly, considering how wonderful Ophelia After All is, can you really blame me? This book was so warm, cozy, and heart-wrenching, and I couldn’t get enough of it.

I went into this book expecting it to be a light and fluffy read, and while it certainly felt that way at times, this book also tugged at my heartstrings in the best ways possible. There’s plenty of laughter and drama between Ophelia and her friends, but this story also dives so much deeper and discusses some pretty heavy, serious topics.

Ophelia is a Cuban-Irish seventeen year old, and while she loved introducing her friends to amazing Cuban foods, she also wasn’t afraid to explain to them how her radically different backgrounds sometimes left her feeling unsure of who she was. Ophelia discussed the strangeness of being Cuban and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day while simultaneously being Irish and speaking Spanish with her parents. Ophelia also had friends of other races or mixed races who expressed their feelings on the subject too.

I loved the inclusivity and representation between Ophelia and her friends! Ophelia spends the novel trying to understand her own sexuality, and she has some really sweet conversations with her friends about their sexualities as well. There’s a lot of representation for sexualities that aren’t too common in books (yet) – asexual, pansexual, etc. I also appreciated that none of these characters feel entitled to label themselves so strictly. They discuss how they feel like they might fit into a certain label, but they don’t fully understand it yet, and they’re okay with it. They all understand that their sexuality is something that can take a while to discover, and I really loved that message.

What I loved most about this book is how genuinely real Ophelia seemed. Initially she was lost and definitely fumbled to find herself, but she always learned from her mistakes, and seeing her grow throughout the novel was heartwarming. She was such a sweet character, but she certainly wasn’t perfect. There was a fair amount of drama in this book, whether it was between her and her friends or her and her parents, on top of figuring out her sexuality and trying to find a prom date. And in each of those situations, I felt like her choices and reactions to said situations were all incredibly realistic for a teenage girl.

My only reason for giving this four stars and not a full five is because I struggled a little bit in the beginning to keep track of all of her friends. They were all introduced very early on, and they just kept coming in waves. It was hard to keep track of which person was dating which, or who was taking who to prom, etc. That being said, I was able to put the friend-group drama aside enough to really focus on Ophelia, because let’s be real. She deserved all the attention anyway.

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