Eighteen-year-old Imogen Scott obviously knows who she is. She’s a top-tier people pleaser and “the kind of person who has a favorite adverb (obviously, obviously).” She’s straight but a visible ally, having attended every Pride Alliance meeting at her high school and consumed as much queer media as she can.
As Imogen, Obviously opens, Imogen is spending her spring break visiting her childhood best friend, Lili, at Blackwell College. There, Imogen learns that Lili has, in an effort to fit in with her new group of ride-or-die queer friends, told a lie: that she and Imogen used to date. Suddenly, Imogen is pretending to be bisexual, a role she didn’t expect to find so comfortable—until meeting Lili’s friend Tessa. Three nights later, Imogen can’t help asking herself, “One girl can’t topple your entire sexuality, right?”
Bestselling author Becky Albertalli’s latest novel offers a gentle, hilarious and authentic look at figuring out who you are on your own timeline. A heartfelt letter from the author to the reader included with advance editions of the book fills in anyone unfamiliar with Albertalli’s own coming-out story, and it’s easy to see how writing this novel must have been a cathartic way to allegorize her experience.
Each of the book’s nine parts constitutes a different day of Imogen’s visit with Lili, and this structure, combined with her intimate first-person point of view, provides an almost stream-of-conscious quality to the narrative. It also makes it nearly impossible for the reader not to love Imogen. As in Albertalli’s previous books, the dialogue is realistic, and text message conversations sprinkled throughout add humor and depth. Pop culture junkies will eat up all the But I’m a Cheerleader references (including the book’s gorgeous cover) and feel genuine disappointment to discover that the rom-com Shop Talk isn’t real.
There’s no shortage of coming-out novels, but there is always a need for more. Imogen’s coming out is unique, just as Albertalli’s was, and any reader will be able to identify with Imogen’s desire to be her true self while battling her fear of others’ judgment. Imogen will obviously be welcomed into the lives of Albertalli’s fans and new readers alike.