Leah’s ARC Review of “Imogen, Obviously” by Becky Albertalli

By: Leah

Imogen, Obviously

  • Author: Becky Albertalli
  • Genre: YA Romance
  • Publication Date: May 2, 2023
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Originally posted on Leah’s Books.

Thank you to Balzer + Bray and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: homophobia, biphobia, pressure to come out

Plot Summary

With humor and insight, #1 New York Times bestseller Becky Albertalli explores the nuances of sexuality, identity, and friendship.

Imogen Scott may be hopelessly heterosexual, but she’s got the World’s Greatest Ally title locked down.

She’s never missed a Pride Alliance meeting. She knows more about queer media discourse than her very queer little sister. She even has two queer best friends. There’s Gretchen, a fellow high school senior, who helps keep Imogen’s biases in check. And then there’s Lili—newly out and newly thriving with a cool new squad of queer college friends.

Imogen’s thrilled for Lili. Any ally would be. And now that she’s finally visiting Lili on campus, she’s bringing her ally A game. Any support Lili needs, Imogen’s all in.

Even if that means bending the truth, just a little.

Like when Lili drops a tiny queer bombshell: she’s told all her college friends that Imogen and Lili used to date. And none of them know that Imogen is a raging hetero—not even Lili’s best friend, Tessa.

Of course, the more time Imogen spends with chaotic, freckle-faced Tessa, the more she starts to wonder if her truth was ever all that straight to begin with. . .

Overall Impression

I was really excited for this book. It’s probably the one I was most looking forward to this winter. Especially because the author has a lot of skin in the game—she used this opportunity to share some of her own feelings at the beginning of the book. And I was thrilled to see some of my own experience reflected in the story, as someone who didn’t come to the realization that I was bi until I was in college, and only came out to a select few for the longest time.

We’re quickly thrown right into the action, with Imogen heading to a college visit to see her best friend. She’s traveling with her inner circle, and we get to meet a variety of different personalities that surround her. Basically everyone that Imogen hangs out with is queer, and she’s firmly in the “token straight ally” box. 

Imogen is dealing with plenty of anxiety, and at times her inner monologue was repetitive, but it was so easy to fall in love with her overall character. She’s sweet, considerate, thoughtful, creative, and fun. One of my favorite parts of the book was seeing how she interacts with the people around her, whether they’re people she’s known her whole life, or people that she literally just met. She just feels like the kind of person I want to pull out of the pages of the book and hang out with in real life.

As someone who always thinks of how others are feeling, and takes care to hold space for others and respect boundaries, this college visit upsets Imogen’s entire worldview. She’s pulled into a fake role that positions her as the bisexual ex-girlfriend of her best friend. She forms a connection with a queer girl, and her first concern is that she’s harmfully appropriating an identity, or falling into the trap of being a straight girl who is intrigued by a queer girl for the experience of it. Except that now she’s thinking about all of her past experiences through a different lens, and things are starting to look different.

“This is a book about a girl who steps outside that box for one weekend. It’s a book about disrupting your own default.”

I loved watching Imogen start to connect the dots in her own past and realize that maybe she wasn’t as heterosexual as she and everyone else has always been convinced that she is. And while it opens up a whole new world to her, it also comes with some confrontation. I was especially intrigued by how that played out, and seeing Imogen find her voice and stand up for her truth.

This was a fantastic book, and it’s a queer coming-of-age story that I found myself easily identifying with. It brought back amazing memories of college and finding a group of people that you fit right in with, and the incredible people you fit in with in high school and have known for so long it feels like they’re family. Overall, I fell in love with Imogen and the people she surrounds herself with, and how the whole story played out. 

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