From the opening prologue of This is My Brain In Love, I was curious about the context of what was going to happen. I had a pit in my stomach and wondered if I was going to be heart-broken by the end. Yet, I also had a feeling that this was going to be a wonderful adventure…and it was because what I found within these pages is a sweet story about the complications of new love, the reality of mental health concerns, and the blessing of a good family and delicious food.
This Is My Brain In Love is told in the two distinct voices. Will is a Black teenager who gets a job at Jocelyn’s Chinese family restaurant in order to help promote it and keep it from going under. At first, Will and Jocelyn are new acquaintances but over time a friendship develops followed by some much deeper feelings. The two characters are just so relatable and honest. And they have real conversations about their families, their friends, food, culture, and mental health. There are also conversations about mental health with their families and friends which are all handled well and created moments of empathy from me as a reader. Or at least, it did for me.
I really enjoyed the way that mental health was discussed in This Is My Brain In Love. There is also a discussion on how stigmatized mental illness is in Asian cultures. This is so important and provides a cultural representation which is much needed in young adult books. This allows kids who are influenced by their culture to not seek help for mental health issues or to not even discuss it to see that they are not alone and that there is help out there that can be reached if chosen.
This Is My Brain In Love is set in Utica, NY which put such a big smile on my face as I am familiar with that area. It’s only a short distance from my hometown! I liked reading about an area that I have been before and yet still really didn’t know. The views of Utica provided insight to me as a reader in regards to the life of immigrants living in the area; and how difficult it can be to run a business. Along with the discussions of mental health, these descriptions of life and culture were my favorite part. Especially the discussions of culture and food. Everything sounded delicious! There were so many elements that resonated with me as a reader and for me that makes this such a good book. Hopefully, it does the same for other readers too.
Rating: 4 Stars