cover image Imogen, Obviously

Imogen, Obviously

Becky Albertalli. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $19.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-06-304587-3

In this intimately realized novel by Albertalli (Here’s to Us), “token straight, world’s best ally” Imogen Scott, a high school senior, contends with growing feelings for a girl. Though she has never kissed a boy, Imogen has had plenty of male crushes, leading her to believe that she’s “hopelessly, blindingly, obviously straight.” She’s always been passionate about LGBTQ advocacy, especially because of her lesbian younger sister, but she’s careful not to “center myself in queer spaces.” While Imogen is visiting childhood best friend Lili Cardoso at college, Lili admits that she told her charismatic new queer friends both that Imogen is bisexual and that the two used to date. At Lili’s insistence, people-pleasing Imogen goes along with the lie, but worries that it won’t be credible. When she starts developing romantic feelings for one of Lili’s friends, her anxiety spirals into a belief that her newfound attraction could be considered queer appropriation, or an attempt to fit in and seem cool. Insightful prose teems with compassionate interrogations of the harms of compulsory heterosexuality and societally prescribed narratives surrounding “what’s encouraged, what’s allowed—or even what’s not allowed” when exploring one’s sexual identity. Via Imogen’s wryly funny first-person narration, Albertalli crafts a striking portrait of one teenager’s experience navigating sexual fluidity and the sometimes overwhelming fear of reinventing oneself. Characters are intersectionally diverse. Ages 14–up. Agent: Holly Root, Root Literary. (May)