It’s Not Like It’s A Secret… That I Have Very Mixed Feelings About This Book

Genre: YA // Contemporary // LGBTQIAP+
Goodreads rating: 3.69
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to parties. Some are big, like that fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely even admit to herself—the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend.

When Sana and her family move to California she begins to wonder if it’s finally time for some honesty, especially after she meets Jamie Ramirez. Jamie is beautiful and smart and unlike anyone Sana’s ever known. There are just a few problems: Sana’s new friends don’t trust Jamie’s crowd; Jamie’s friends clearly don’t want her around anyway; and a sweet guy named Caleb seems to have more-than-friendly feelings for her. Meanwhile, her dad’s affair is becoming too obvious to ignore anymore.

Sana always figured that the hardest thing would be to tell people that she wants to date a girl, but as she quickly learns, telling the truth is easy… what comes after it, though, is a whole lot more complicated (Goodreads).

Oh boy. Okay, so I have a LOT of mixed feelings when it comes to this book, so I decided to make some lists of things I liked and didn’t like. Because 1) I like lists 2) It will hopefully help me gather my thoughts. So let’s go

What I liked

💛 Sana is Japanese, and so is the author, so in that aspect we get own voices (what I could tell from the author’s note at the end she isn’t a part of the LGBT+ community herself)
💛 Sana’s parents speak Japanese a lot in the book and Jamies mom speaks Spanish (though we don’t see her much) It made the book feel authentic and no worries if you don’t speak one or both of these languages! It’s clear from the context what’s being said
💛 Speaking of Sana’s parents, while her dad isn’t around a lot, it’s clear he loves her. While Sana and her mom don’t always see eye to eye (actually, most of the time), towards the end of the book they have a beautiful heartfelt moment which is one of my favourite scenes.
💛 Sana’s new friends. I do wish they had been developed a bit more and had a bit of their own arc outside of Sana (and besides getting a boyfriend), but their interactions with each other and Sana were really fun to read and it was great to read about Sana finding friends that understood her
💛 It’s a pretty quick read
💛 There’s quite a bit of racism in this book that gets adressed, whether it’s aimed at Sana or comes out of her own mouth (or other characters). While I wish some more time had been spent on Sana’s own racism towards Mexicans, it’s made clear that what she said and thought wasn’t okay and it wasn’t resolved that easily
💛 Sana gets the assignment to keep a poetry diary, and the poems she collects and analyses are a part of the novel. Before she got the assignment, she already loved poetry and bonded with Jamie over this. They start to exchange (romantic) poems which is really cute
💛 While I have mixed feelings about the obstacle between the two girls, the way Sana asks for another chance is really romantic and super cute. I’m a sucker for stuff like that.

What I disliked

💛 At some point some boys are clearly interested in Jaimie’s ex-girlfriend, and Sana wants to yell at them to give it up, because she’s a lesbian. Um. Sana. Is she sapphic? Yes. Does that mean she’s a lesbian? No. Bisexuality does exist. There were a few other times that I felt like there was some bi-erasure, but I don’t know if I was overreacting? At some point Sana says to a boy that she would like him if she were straight, and at first I screamed ‘BI-ERASURE’ in my head, because why not say ‘if I were into boys’? She knows bisexuality exists, because at some point she does wonder if she may be bi (though briefly). But I don’t know if I’m overreacting here? It definitely stung though and  put a bad taste in my mouth
💛 Insta-love. Honestly, I have NO IDEA why Sana and Jamie are into each other, besides probably attraction? Oh and they share a love of poetry. Of course this book doesn’t solely focus on romance (it focuses on family, friendship and racism to name a few as well), but since the romance is a big part of the book, the fact that we don’t really see the relationship build up, or actually see much of them as a couple, it just doesn’t work. Were they cute? Sure. Did I ship them? Not really. I honestly couldn’t care less what happened. Of course there’s an obstacle at some point (which I’ll get to later) but I wasn’t invested in their romance at all. I was told they’re in love, but I wasn’t really shown it, let alone why they fell in love. So when things got rough? I didn’t care at all. Besides I knew there was a 99 percent chance things would work out anyway. Also at some point Sana was like ‘it’s only October’ and I went ‘HOLY IT’S ONLY OCTOBER?!’. It’s been a little over a month. A few weeks. WHY
💛 So. The obstacle. Sana did something stupid. And I really wish that what she did (spoiler: she cheated. She thought Sana was cheating on her and thus kissed a boy that liked her, even though she didn’t like him) wasn’t the obstacle in their relationship. On one hand I feel like she was forgiven way too easily, but on the other hand I also understand why she did it. She let her insecurities get to her, then she panicked and only made it worse by not telling the truth to the parties involved and just made it worse. She’s only human, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth.
💛 Like I said before, I wish Sana’s friends had been developed more and had gotten an arc of the own. Same could be said about the other supporting characters. They were flat and I didn’t really care for them. Since they weren’t well-developed and I barely knew anything about them, they didn’t really stand out from each other. 

That definitely helped me get my thoughts about this book a bit clearer. There are things I liked (or even loved) about it, but when romance is a big part of a book, and I’m not feeling the romance, it’s hard to enjoy the book to it’s fullest. While the other problems I had with it didn’t help either, I think the fact that the romance wasn’t developed is the biggest reason why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I had hoped.

Have you read It’s Not Like It’s A Secret? What did you think of it? Any similar books that you think I would enjoy more? Let me know in the comments!

Let’s Track Some Unicorns and Fall in Love With Girls In Unicorn Tracks

Before I start this review: yes it is I, Michelle, having returned from the pit of darkness that is a blogging slump for… well at least for this post lmao. I have finished everything on my to do list and now have to wait for a friend to finish her to do list before we can work on our assignment, and I realised I could actually blog? And I wanted to? I was shook (still am). Anyway, let’s finally review this book that I’ve been meaning to review for weeks.

Genre: YA // Fantasy // LGBTQIAP+
Goodreads rating: 3.84
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a savage attack drives her from her home, sixteen-year-old Mnemba finds a place in her cousin Tumelo’s successful safari business, where she quickly excels as a guide. Surrounding herself with nature and the mystical animals inhabiting the savannah not only allows Mnemba’s tracking skills to shine, it helps her to hide from the terrible memories that haunt her.

Mnemba is employed to guide Mr. Harving and his daughter, Kara, through the wilderness as they study unicorns. The young women are drawn to each other, despite that fact that Kara is betrothed. During their research, they discover a conspiracy by a group of poachers to capture the Unicorns and exploit their supernatural strength to build a railway. Together, they must find a way to protect the creatures Kara adores while resisting the love they know they can never indulge.

DISCLAIMER: I was given a copy of the book by the author. This doesn’t affect my review

(honestly when the author reached out she had me at YA fantasy with a lesbian romance)

THIS BOOK WAS SO CUTE. Though I do feel that the relationship was a bit insta-lovey, it was adorable and I loved these two girls kicking ass together and falling in love while doing it. They’re both such cool ladies. I loved how while Mnemba often runs into dangerous creatures, she still has her moments where’s she’s scared, making her very human. Though I did like Kara, she did feel a little underdeveloped.

I also loved the worldbuilding of this book. It took place in a fictional country ( inspired from southern African countries), so going in you don’t know anything about the country, its culture, customs etc. Going out? I could’ve written an essay on it, it was so well done (and no info dumps!). And the way all the mythical creatures are described? You’d think the author had seen them for herself. Though I do wish it had been a little bit clearer when the story took place. It definitely distracted me since a lot of the times I was trying to figure that out. But still, amazing world building (and in such a short book?? Some authors can definitely learn from Julia Ember).

OH AND UNICORNS! The book is about UNICORNS. Do you know how excited that made me? I mean, unicorns are well known creatures, but I feel like they’re actually hardly ever in any fantasy books? Same with fantasy tv shows and movies. For such well known creatures they’re actually quite underrated (of course I might have just been reading and watching the wrong stuff).

I did feel like the conflict didn’t take up enough pages, and that it felt resolved a bit too easily. All in all I’d definitely recommend this book!

TRIGGER WARNINGS 
Mnemba is raped before the story starts 
Kara is almost raped during the story
Animal cruelty 

Have you read Unicorn Tracks yet? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!