Title: This is My Brain in Love
Author: I. W. Gregorio
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Review Copy: Purchased
Availability: Available Now
Summary: Jocelyn Wu has just three wishes for her junior year: To make it through without dying of boredom, to direct a short film with her BFF Priya Venkatram, and to get at least two months into the year without being compared to or confused with Peggy Chang, the only other Chinese girl in her grade.
Will Domenici has two goals: to find a paying summer internship, and to prove he has what it takes to become an editor on his school paper.
Then Jocelyn’s father tells her their family restaurant may be going under, and all wishes are off. Because her dad has the marketing skills of a dumpling, it’s up to Jocelyn and her unlikely new employee, Will, to bring A-Plus Chinese Garden into the 21st century (or, at least, to Facebook).What starts off as a rocky partnership soon grows into something more. But family prejudices and the uncertain future of A-Plus threaten to keep Will and Jocelyn apart. It will take everything they have and more, to save the family restaurant and their budding romance.
Review: This week has been a trying week for all of us and I really needed some escapist literature. Thankfully I found it in I. W. Gregorio’s “This Is My Brain in Love”. The novel is a contemporary romance between Jocelyn, who is Chinese American, and Will Domenici, who is mixed race (Nigerian & Italian). The novel is told from both perspectives, which was wonderful as we got to see what both of them thought of each other as their relationship grew. It’s a sweet, slow-burn kind of love story that just gave me all sorts of sugary feels.
I mention the dual perspective because the novel also handles anxiety and depression in a wonderful way, where we can really see how the brain can sabotage our thoughts, where it can turn a moment of success into a failure. Will has extreme anxiety, but has tools to manage his condition, therefore he notices the beginnings of depression in Jocelyn. As a reader I just thought Jocelyn’s behavior was attributed to dealing with pressures from her family, but when Will broke it down (more to himself and where his POV helped the reader) it showed how often many of us mistake the signs of depression for something else. This, to me, is one of the strengths of the book because Gregorio is able to show us what mental illness looks like without have to explain it to us. I felt for both of the characters as they had to manage their brain try to sabotage their relationship and fight for each other.
The prologue begins with “This is a mostly happy story” and I appreciated that because despite the challenges Jocelyn and Will went through, I knew they would make it at the end. This, for me, enriched going on the journey with them together. I won’t spoil the ending but it left me with a feeling of hope for both of them as they have to make an important decision and while the ending is left open, based on the journey Jocelyn and Will traveled, I knew that they would make the right one for them.
Gregorio’s second book was the uplift I needed right now with it’s lovable characters (I loved Will), touching romance, thoughtful expression of mental illness, and other statements about society (racism, children of immigrants, etc.) This book really had it all and I enjoyed every minute with Jocelyn and Will.