Book Review - Imogen, Obviously by Becky Albertalli
Imogen, Obviously takes all of a handful of pages before you're completely smitten with Imogen. Her internal narrative is observant, poignant and (more of than not) hilarious. Immediately, you find out Imogen is a girly girl who is the ultimate ally to the LGBT alphabet. As a straight person, she rallies for the cause while also questioning her place in queer dominant places. And it works. Fast. Once Imogen told me she obviously had a favorite adverb (obviously), I was sold.
The central conceit revolves around Imogen visiting her best friend at college. The only problem is her friend lied about Imogen and her past, saying that Imogen was an ex-girlfriend. Suddenly, Imogen's heterosexuality is erased, and as she enters a new queer space in college, she questions everything around her. When these new people start commenting on her "bi-vibes" and her adorable fashion sense, Imogen doesn't know how to tell everyone that she's straight.
And slowly but surely, doubts begin to linger about what she's doing. It's such a delight. Albertalli's trademark wit is found on every page. While at times, the dialogue can be too clever (think Gilmore Girls), I was too smitten with every character to really care.
Although the story hits all the expected notes, there's plenty of variety to keep the tempo and momentum. How friendships formed and Imogen's relationship with a wide cast of people become fascinating notes throughout. Albertalli is never too quick to unravel information, so you'll be left guessing at some of the larger pieces, even if the story is RomCom 101. Smartly, Albertalli doesn't rely just on narrative but text messages to unravel the story. These text messages are hilarious--and well place emoticons give so much context to Imogen and the crew at large.
This is all to say, Imogen, Obviously is a wild success. It doesn't break any new ground, but the book oozes style and charisma. I was grinning ear to ear throughout all of the antics. From a sheer enjoyment factor, Imogen, Obviously receives highest notes. YA authors take note--this is how you build rich characters.
Imogen, Obviously by Becky Albertalli
Release date: May 2, 2023