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This Is What It Feels Like

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It doesn’t matter what the prize for the Sun City Originals contest is this year.

Who cares that’s it’s fifteen grand? Who cares about a gig opening for one of the greatest bands to ever play this town?

Not Dia, that’s for sure. Because Dia knows that without a band, she hasn’t got a shot at winning Sun City. Because ever since Hanna’s drinking took over her life, Dia and Jules haven’t been in it. And ever since Hanna left — well, there hasn’t been a band.

It used to be the three of them, Dia, Jules, and Hanna, messing around and making music and planning for the future. But that was then, and this is now — and now means a baby, a failed relationship, a stint in rehab, all kinds of off beats that have interrupted the rhythm of their friendship. No contest can change that. Right?

But like the lyrics of a song you used to play on repeat, there’s no forgetting a best friend. And for Dia, Jules, and Hanna, this impossible challenge — to ignore the past, in order to jumpstart the future — will only become possible if they finally make peace with the girls they once were, and the girls they are finally letting themselves be.

Rebecca Barrow’s tender story of friendship, music, and ferocious love asks — what will you fight for, if not yourself?

400 pages, ebook

First published November 6, 2018

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About the author

Rebecca Barrow

8 books215 followers
Rebecca Barrow is the critically acclaimed author of Bad Things Happen Here, Interview with the Vixen, This Is What It Feels Like, and You Don’t Know Me But I Know You. She is a lover of sunshine, Old Hollywood icons, and all things high femme. She lives and writes in England. Visit her at www.rebecca-barrow.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 182 reviews
Profile Image for Erin .
1,232 reviews1,141 followers
November 6, 2018
Now Available

I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. Special thanks to Harper Collins Publishing & Rececca Barrow.

"This is what it feels like to be alive"

Rebecca Barrow is Black Girl Magic and her book This Is What It Feels Like a fantastic read. I almost didn't even enter the giveaway for this book because it didn't sound like something that would interest me. A book about 3 teenage girls in a Rock Group entering a Rock Contest. I don't listen to Rock music and don't care about it at all.


Then I Googled the title and discovered the author was a Black woman. That peaked my interest. A book about people of Color in a Rock group, seemed fresh and new. At least to me it did, so I hit ENTER.

This Is What It Feels Like is about Dia &Jules and their former friend and band mate Hanna getting the band back together to enter The Sun City Originals Contest. The winner of this contest wins 15 grand and a chance to perform with their favorite band Glory Alabama. As they work on their music they work through their problems and try to make peace with each other and themselves.

This book made me smile despite some pretty hard subject matters like teen pregnancy, addiction, grief and sexual identity. If you followed my updates then you know that Hanna was my favorite character. She was in my opinion the most complete character. I connected to her the most on an emotional level.

I highly recommend that on November 6th after you've voted(if you live in The U.S.) you buy this book and read it. You won't regret it.
Profile Image for Acqua.
536 reviews190 followers
June 11, 2019
4.5 stars

This Is What It Feels Like is a story about recovery.
I have read many stories about mentally ill main characters and characters going through trauma, but I know very few stories that talk about what happens afterward. What happens when you're not an addict anymore, what happens when you finally get out of a toxic situation.
Not only this is a story about recovery, it's a story about recovery in which the romance, while present, is not the reason the main characters get better.

This Is What It Feels Like follows three girls, once friends and in a band together, as they reconnect through music. This aspect reminded me a lot of another 2018 contemporary release, The Beauty that Remains by Ashley Woodfolk, another book about music and friendship, but with a heavier focus on grief. (If you like one of these two, I think you'll also like the other).
Anyway, this book is told through four PoVs:

🎵 Dia, a teenage mother. The boy she loved, and also the father of her child, died unexpectedly in an accident. I loved her PoV - it's the first time I read about a teen mother - and what stood out to me about it was the portrayal of Dia's trauma. Sometimes anxiety is almost like magical thinking, and Dia is aware of it, and yet she can't stop thinking that every person she loves will die like her almost-boyfriend did.

🎵 Jules, a black lesbian who is falling for her fat, mermaid-haired coworker. Jules' PoV was my favorite because of the very cute f/f romance. I also loved Jules' character development: her relationship with her ex-girlfriend was toxic, they just really weren't compatible, but Jules doesn't know how a healthy relationship looks like. She realizes that she shouldn't hold herself back just because of a bad experience, but at the same time she doesn't see how anyone could ever want to be with her in the first place, and so maybe she shouldn't even try. I loved that she got to be in a happy, healthy f/f relationship.

🎵 Hanna, former addict who has been sober for more than a year. Her alcoholism was what drove her and her friends apart, and now she feels like she doesn't really have the right to be happy. Also, her parents do not trust her anymore, even though she is trying to be better. Hanna's PoV was the most difficult for me to read, because it deals with how, when you're mentally ill, you feel like you can't be proud of your achievements, because they're something that isn't an effort for anyone else and you shouldn't have struggled with them at all. Also, so much self-loathing. Very well-written, but not an easy read.

🎵 The fourth PoV is Elliot's. I won't say who he is because spoilers, but I thought his PoV was completely unnecessary and this is one of the main reasons I'm not giving this book a full five stars.

Apart from Elliot's PoV, another thing I didn't love was the music aspect: I didn't really care about the band or the competition the girls got into, I was there for the character arcs, the recovery themes and the f/f romance. I wasn't completely invested, but I loved most of this book and I really recommend it.
I kind of wish my bar wasn't so low, but it was great to read a book that dealt with addiction, teen pregnancy and teens having sex without sounding like a cautionary tale. These girls aren't walking messages, they're people with hopes and dreams and hobbies. It's also a very sex-positive story, there's an f/f sex scenes near the end.
Profile Image for Faith Simon.
198 reviews162 followers
April 22, 2019
This is literally the perfect summer read and I read it a month before summer but that's fine. Whenever I wasn't reading this, all I wanted to do was pick it back up and read where I'd left off. This is a beautiful story about friendship, grief, love, healthy/toxic relationships, and so much more. This book covers a variety of topics, but it never feels like it's juggling all these things into one storyline, it all feels seamless. All these different plot points connect and compliment each other and the story so nicely, and the dual perspectives really help with this. In the beginning, I wasn't too impressed with Elliot's point of view, I felt like there wasn't really a real purpose for it, like it wasn't really adding to the story in any way, and it was sort of out of place with the girls' perspectives in real time, while his were only through the past. I still feel this way to an extent, however, I feel like Dia's arc is more understandable and easier to relate to when we get a glimpse into their relationship from his perspective, rather than just Dia's memories of him.
From the synopsis of this book, I didn't figure that I would enjoy this nearly as much as I did, I don't tend to find books centred around friend groups particularly interesting, but this book is so diverse, and the characters are so lovable and different from each other, where some books with similar themes feel like the characters are the complete cardboard copies of each other save for one trait or storyline, this book delivers three completely different characters, each with their own completely unique and interesting plotlines. Dia, the leader of the group, who has big plans for every occasion and never gives up, struggles to balance parenting her two year-old daughter and her crush on this guy named Jesse while she's convinced every guy she loves will be hurt because of her, Jules, a person of color and a lesbian, who still struggles with knowing what a good relationship consists of and what makes a relationship toxic from her previous relationship, and Hanna, a recovering alcoholic who we open the story with her having been away from her ex-friends for 2 years, still struggling with her self-identity without her friends, the band, and the alcohol.
Although I liked Dia's and Jules' plotlines (admittedly, I liked Dia's the least because I could relate to her the least, though I really appreciated the teen-mom subject matter), I have to say that I was most invested in Hanna's. I think the story really handled her sobriety well and it was a pleasure to read how she struggled to distance her personhood from her drunk self to the person she's become without the alcohol, and how she realizes a part of herself again in the band. I also appreciated that her storyline didn't involve any romance like the other two, I think that I appreciated her journey to get clean more because there was no romance involved, and it was more interesting that way, her storyline involved only herself (aside from her family) without a love interest to help her along, and I think that by itself is lovely, and shows amazing writing considering her plotline was my favourite to follow despite the lack of any romance.
The journey from the beginning to seeing the girls acknowledge their actions towards each other and taking that step to make amends, and becoming the same group that they had been before, but different, was amazing to read. The way their dynamic changed from how it had been before, and the character development and forgiveness between them all was just great writing. The plot is intricate but flows out nicely, the only thing that feels rushed would be the epilogue, I felt that the story ended too quickly and time jumped rather unexpectedly, but other than that, the speed at which time passes and the past is referred to was a very comfortable speed for me to read.
And of course, I loved Jules as a character and Autumn. I love that we got to see Jules develop romantic feelings for her and we got descriptions of her being very beautiful and desirable before we learned that she's plus size. I felt this was a good storytelling direction. Not that plus size girls can't be attractive, obviously, but I felt it was a good direction because most writers feel the need to specify a character is plus size before stating them as being the subject of desire if that is even a direction that certain character can go in in the story. I felt that by leaving it out until after feelings had been developed, you got to know her as a character that was pretty and desirable yourself rather than seeing her as a plus size girl who somebody else can view as desirable. I don't know if I'm really making sense, but I know that it makes a big difference, at least for me, who literally squealed knowing a plus size girl was the object of a characters' romance plotline, without the fact that she's plus size being her main personality trait.
This book is just really good in literally every way, if you're sitting out on this one, you still have time to read it in the summer, that's when you'll get the best vibes out of it, and have the most fun reading it. It's definitely a summer read.
Profile Image for Lea (drumsofautumn).
619 reviews627 followers
August 28, 2020
Video Review

hardcover copy of this is what it feels like on a grey blanket with fairy lights

“She played for the girls they used to be and the ones they were now, and all their fallen-apart pieces that had gotten lost or ruined or discarded along the way.”

This Is What It Feels Like is a really wonderful YA Contemporary, that has so many topics and issues packed into it.

At the centre of the story are three girls, Hanna, Jules and Dia. The three were in a band together for a long time but then two years before this story starts, a lot of things happened in their lives and they stopped making music together. The friendship between the three of them took a toll as well, although Jules and Dia remained best friends.

Jules is a Black lesbian and her love interest, Autumn, is fat and questioning her sexuality. I think that Dia is also Black but the book only mentions that she has deep-brown skin. She is also the mother of an almost 2-year old so this deals with raising a kid as a teen. Dia's good friend and love interest, Jesse, is also Black. Hanna went to rehab for her alcohol abuse and has been sober for over a year when the story starts.

So as you can already tell, this book dealt with so many amazing and important topics and I thought everything was handled incredibly well. Because all three of them have alternating POVs, we see everybody's perspective to all of the issues and it offers a really insightful and multi-layered discussion off all these things.

“Dia played a concert for her audience of one, under the clouds, and the moon winked in and out of sight, and she felt the anchor of the earth release her the slightest amount.”

I was really happy to see this book deal with different parent relationships. It was so refreshing to see the parents so involved. Dia's parents are very supportive and help her raise her kid.
Hanna's parents are super well portrayed too. They are worried about Hanna and her alcohol abuse, even after her being sober for so long. I loved the way you could tell that they were coming from a good place, even if it wasn't received by Hanna that way or that, even when she does understand where they're coming from, she eventually just started feeling suffocated. I thought it was a very important and well portrayed child-parent relationship.
Hanna's sister, Molly, is also very involved and a lovely character. Seeing her relationship with Hanna, after everything they went through, was really precious.

I don't think I've ever read a book about a teen mum. I feel like usually books that feature teenage pregnancy or being a teen mum are focused on that and it will be the main topic of the story and in that case it doesn't really interest me. But seeing Dia and her relationship with her daughter was wonderful and really great to read. I also loved that it seems like most of her environment was pretty accepting. We never saw anyone make any inappropriate comments about her young pregnancy (although we know these comments do get made) and on the contrary, people seemed very supportive and I really enjoyed that.

Jules and her developing relationship with Autumn was another wonderful part of the novel. Seeing such a beautiful and wholesome f/f relationship in a book still gets me every time. There is also an incredibly well written sex scene between the two.
On top of that female masturbation is mentioned twice, although just in passing. But I'm always glad to see it in any YA as it is still a very taboo topic and truly shouldn't be.

“But being drunk made her feel invincible, gave her cover for so many things. She said whatever she wanted, she did anything and everything that she got the urge to, and when she fucked up, she'd brush it off: 'I was drunk! It's no big deal.'”

And then there's Hanna's alcohol abuse which might have been my favourite issue that was talked about in this novel. Now while I was never addicted to alcohol, I found so many of Hanna's reasons as to why she drank and how it got so bad, incredibly relatable and seeing this in a YA and how much this could open some teen's eyes? It was fantastic.

We shouldn't underestimate the power of alcohol, ESPECIALLY for teens. And as someone who grew up and lives in a country, where you can start drinking beer and wine with 16, this is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. While reading this novel, I thought a lot about how trivialized alcohol is. I remember a girl from my school who had to get her stomach pumped after a party and I thought a lot about how we talked about this back then, like it was just a funny mishap.. sometimes even like something to be proud of. Looking back at how this was handled back then absolutely haunts me until this day.

On top of all these topics and issues, that were handled so very well, this also had a great storyline about friendship and music and how it can bring people together, reunite them. I loved the portrayal of the bond that you form when you make music together, especially when it's in your "formative" years. The way these girls found their way back together through music warmed my heart immensely.

“Her skin felt raw, too tight for her body, every movement testing her limits, every rub of her clothes burning. And this whole place felt too small to contain her, pushing back against her, and how dare it, how dare it try to put a limit on what she was feeling right now.”

And that is still not all. There is also the aspect of grief. And there is a wonderful m/f romance as well. And as I said, almost all of these topics get portrayed from different POVs. So while Hanna's addiction is obviously important in her storyline, we also see the way Dia and Jules feel about it, the way it impacted their lives and the decisions that they made.

Honestly I can't quite believe how many things were in this 400 page novel and I could probably write a 400 page novel about all of the things packed into this and how amazing they all were.
But I think you get the picture.

I'm really sad that this book never got the attention it deserved. It is a really beautiful summer-y Contemporary, filled with a lot of themes that all get handled well.
So please pack this onto your must-read list! It is so great and important and I hope many more YA Contemporaries tackle issues in such an amazing and open way.

Trigger and Content Warnings for loss of a loved one, alcohol addiction, grief.
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I received an ARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Katie.dorny.
980 reviews500 followers
November 21, 2019
This was a beautiful contemporary read that was so soft with normalised sapphic love and I adored this.

This story didn’t break any new ground but it was wholesome, honest and so well written; tackling many topics without trivialising any and the character development was truly 10/10 and didn’t feel like a ‘young’ young adult novel which made me love it more.
Profile Image for charlotte,.
3,131 reviews820 followers
October 15, 2020
i knew this would be a 5 star book from p17 when a character used the word lesbian to describe herself

Rep: Black mc, Black li, Black lesbian mc, wlw li, bi(?) mc with alcohol addiction, wlw side character

CWs: past death in a car accident, past alcohol abuse
Profile Image for Iris.
550 reviews253 followers
August 31, 2020
3.5 stars

Wow. This book was not at all what I was expecting. I picked up this book expecting fluff, and friendship, and music, and maybe a cute romance. While I certainly got friendship and music and a cute romance or two, there was also so much more to this book. And while there were a few fluffy scenes... this book was definitely not entirely (or even mostly) fluff.

So many layers. So much pain and heartbreak, but also so much hope. Relationships that were ultimately good, but also really messy.

There was so much to this book, and I am just blown away.

This Is What It Feels Like follows three characters, Jules, Dia, and Hanna. They used to be best friends, and now... they are most certainly not best friends. Well actually, Dia and Jules are still best friends, but they haven't talked to Hanna for over a year.

All three of these girls are fantastically developed, and have such wonderful character arcs!

Hanna - Hanna is a recovering alcoholic. She's desperately trying to earn back her parents trust, and is coming to terms with why she always turned to alcohol. Her character arc is SO GOOD.

Dia - Dia is a struggling teen mother. Due to her past, she has a really hard time letting anybody new into her life. Dia was definitely my least favourite of the three. While she definitely had a well developed character arc and backstory, I sort of felt she was... a little bit lacking in the actual personality department.

Jules - Jules was my favourite of the three! She's still getting over her ex-girlfriend, and admitting to herself that it maybe wasn't the most healthy relationship. Compared to the other two, she actually mostly has her shit together, but she still has an absolutely spectacular character arc!

Also the RELATIONSHIPS between the characters were amazing! The way the friendship between these three girls slowly reformed was beautiful! And each of their individual relationships with other characters were great as well.

I will say that while this book was wonderful, and I don't have a single real complaint about it, it just... didn't stick. I loved it while I was reading it, and for the few days after. I was blown away. I was in awe. This book was amazing. However looking back, I just... don't care anymore? Even though it was super good? And I'm sure if I went back and reread it, I would love it just as much. It just didn't leave a lasting impression on me is all. And that's why it's not rated higher.
Profile Image for Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd).
1,177 reviews250 followers
November 17, 2018
I had absolutely no interest in this and could not focus, which is a shame because it has the potential to be at least a 4 star read for me, but my enjoyment was maybe a 2. This is probably one of the elusive DNF books that I’ll consider picking up again sometime in the future because I desperately want to like this but I don’t know if the timing was off or I’m just in a rut of perpetual 2 star and under books. This is a case of it’s not the book, it’s me. So put no weight on this review, it’s just my present experience trying, and unfortunately failing, to read it.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Danika at The Lesbrary.
522 reviews1,286 followers
February 24, 2019
Who doesn’t love a “getting the band back together” book, especially when it’s literal? . . . The three of them have a lot to work through, but I was relieved to see that they do talk about their problems. They air their grievances in a reasonable time frame–this isn’t one of those “Why don’t they just talk??” books where the only conflict is miscommunication. The problem is that they have a lot to work through, and it takes time, and more than just one conversation. They have to keep bumping up against these ghosts from the past and processing it again. I loved the realism of their relationships with each other, which are flawed and difficult, but also are the grounding forces in their lives.

. . . I highly recommend this to anyone. I appreciated how layered and complex the relationships all are here, and I felt like I really got to know Hanna, Jules, and Dia. There’s also, of course, the thread of music running through, which is what they are all passionate about, so there’s another entry point into this story. Also, there’s an adorable toddler who is a fan of a dog named Waffles, so what more could you want? Of course, this whole review is for naught, because you should all be picking it up based on that gorgeous cover alone.

Full review at the Lesbrary.
Profile Image for Livia.
419 reviews64 followers
August 30, 2020
My Rating: 5 stars!

This Is What It Feels Like is a story about love, loss, and most importantly, best friends. When Dia finds out about the Sun City music contest, the last thing that you'd expect is for her and her best friend, Jules, and ex-best friend, Hanna, to form their band again. But the prize is $15,000 AND opening for the famous band Glory Alabama, who just happen to be their idols. But the three girls can't forget their past like they "forgot" each other - will they put everything aside to win this competition and become friends again? What will you fight for, if not yourself?

My Breakdown:

- Holy macaroni! This book was so good it's making me speak like a kindergarten teacher! (Just kidding and no offence to all the kindergarten teachers out there - love you guys!) But seriously, this book was amazing and it made me want to call my best girls and tell them how much I love them. Because there seriously isn't any love that exists like the ones between you and your girls.

- This book also managed to tackle tough topic after tough topics, like teen pregnancy, death, and alcoholism. Rebecca Barrow did it in such a way where it didn't feel forced, and that it just fit directly into the story. I loved reading about little Alexa but Dia and Jules were huge assholes to Hanna. I think that Dia and Jules shouldn't have abandoned Hanna in her time of need, especially then. I understand that Dia was pregnant, but still. Huge kudos to Hanna for getting sober.

- I felt that Elliot's POV was really useless. It didn't add to the story in one bit, and it just felt like fluff. I understand it was a glimpse of the past, but you learn so much about the past from the girls' POVs, and Elliot's didn't provide anything to the story. Either way, his chapters were few and the chapters he had were like 2 pages long, so it wasn't too bad. I just think the book could have been better without it.

- The girls' arcs were also really nice. You can really tell that the girls matured so much throughout the book and the fact that they were all able to make the ending like the ending made my heart happy. I feel so much pride for them like I'm their mother and I just want to take a photo of them and pinch their cheeks. (Is that weird?)

- This book really felt like a movie while reading it. It felt like a coming-of-age movie and it was the perfect summer read. This book was really amazing, and I'm glad to have read it.


Rep: Black MC, Black and lesbian MC, lesbian LI
TW for book: death by a car accident, alcoholism (including stomach pumping), teen pregnancy (I'm actually not 100% sure if this warranting a TW, but I'd like to stay on the safe side and put it here just in case)
Profile Image for Michelle.
661 reviews6 followers
June 20, 2018
My full review can be found on the Epilie Aspie Chick blog!

Thank you to HarperCollins Publishing for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Musical fame can be a real double edged sword - just look at the news. As soon as you gain popularity, it gets far too easy to become trapped into the pitfalls of alcoholism, drug addiction, and a far too inflated ago. Its this type of problem that causes our three leads Hanna, Dia, and Jules to go their separate ways.

This one starts out really slow for me, but once it picked up about a quarter of the way in - the rest of the tale is well worth it. Hanna, Dia, and Jules really do have the most amazing chemistry together as a band that you can feel coming right off the page. Seeing them together brings out the best in each other and you can even see that as the story goes along. That doesn't mean they don't struggle with their present situations though. Hanna has to keep the band getting back together a secret from her parents since they would never approve, even if it does let her feel like she has a purpose in life again. Dia is trying to raise her daughter while also falling in love with a new guy, but can she let him into her life (especially after the last guy died)? Jules is a lesbian who has never been on a date or had a serious relationship with a girl, but has found her love in Autumn. Can she start a new love in her while maintaining all of the band work for the competition?

It's interesting watching them work through the struggles of the past, living out their dreams in the present, and working towards a better future. Where they used to never imagine they could work together again, their friendship is rekindled and they find a way to make even better music now - while improving the rest of their lives. The book also tells the story from each of their voices throughout the book, so you see it from each of their perspectives. I really enjoyed this, especially since it allowed for a much closer look at their private lives when they weren't all together.
Profile Image for Cathy.
928 reviews61 followers
November 21, 2018
To everyone sitting in their bedrooms in the 2am stillness,
listening to that song that makes your heart ache.

That is a good dedication.

I liked this. In that way where you know you're reading a good story, but it'll never be a story/book that you completely love. It was fine, but it's not necessarily something I would recommend in a "you MUST read this now!" kind of way.

I did love how the focus of the story was not on all of the bullshit the three girls had gone through in the past, but rather on how they were trying to get back from that. It's never solely about entering and possibly winning the music contest, it was about bringing these girls, these once-upon-a-time best friends back together. To help heal the broken parts and to learn how to forgive someone you loved who really, really hurt you. This book was good in an achey way because the female friendship part I felt the author really nailed.

To be fair, there's a lot going on, because between these three best friends we have a teenage pregnancy, an alcohol problem, a dead boyfriend and an out-of-the-closet gay girl trying to deal with having a crush on a new girl. Which, I'm not saying these things aren't realistic, but I'm just not convinced they would all happen at the same time to three best friends that are in a band together. But, suspension of disbelief for the sake of fiction, I guess.

And despite all of that, it's very real. These characters felt authentic, genuine, because they were all so flawed. And real human beings are flawed and will do stupid things sometimes and make mistakes that can end up hurting your friends and family. I appreciated the struggle of these girls finding their way to each other again.

Especially Hanna's side of the story stole my heart. The last calm confrontation between her and her parents was well done, and I liked seeing how she had changed and matured; the person she was becoming because of everything that had happened.
Profile Image for Chidimma Desiree.
279 reviews74 followers
February 19, 2021
Do you know that feeling you get when you read a book and you realize it blew all your expectations out the water? Yeah that’s what I got after reading this book. This book filled me up with so much joy and nostalgia. It felt like I was watching a disney channel original movie from my childhood and I mean that in all the best ways. If you love Lemonade Mouth you’ll love this book. The getting the band back together story we got here was phenomenal. This book is painfully underrated. I really didn’t want this book to be over, but all good things must come to an end.
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,767 reviews651 followers
June 22, 2020
It's books like this that cure my anxiety. I keep asking myself why I didn't pick it up sooner, because it's been on my shelves for around a year, I think. But I also think there's something valuable in picking up a book at the right time for you. I'm a massive mood reader, so I just click with books more when I read them at the right time, and it makes them more meaningful to me.

I'm very much a sucker for slice-of-life contemporaries that focus on friendship and I loved the different perspectives and how the book deals with big topics, like becoming a teen parent or dealing with alcoholism, without making them heavy. While I mostly loved the focus on friendship, I also loved both of the romances in this book, one of which is an amazing sapphic romance.

This book reminded me a little of The Resolutions - it's a similar type of book, and I'll be on the look-out for more comparable titles.
Profile Image for MK Pagano.
Author 1 book50 followers
April 16, 2018
This is such a fun read! Each of the main characters is incredibly well-drawn--the author was able to capture the unique personalities and struggles of each girl so well. I liked the romances in this book, but the best thing was how the friendships are the most important relationships here -- the romances are really more side plots. Not enough YA does this. I also love how Rebecca is able to take complex, heavy stuff -- death, addiction, heartbreak -- have the characters go through it, and ultimately end up in such hopeful places. (She does this in her last book, too.) And the stuff about the music scene was just plain fun. Read this book for a pick-me-up, it will not disappoint!
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,438 reviews234 followers
October 18, 2018
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Three life changing events caused their friendship to crumble, but when the opportunity of a lifetime presents itself, will Dia, Jules, and Hanna be able to overcome their past in order to forge their future?

• Pro: The characters in this book were dealing with a lot of life issues. Some were small and some were LARGE, but watching them navigate these rough patches, and seeing them learn and grow was so gratifying for me.

• Pro: What stood out to me was the friendship between Dia, Jules, and Hanna. It was broken, and each of them was not the same person they were when it fell apart. They had many obstacles to overcome in order to rebuild what they had lost, and Barrow had me rooting for them the whole time.

• Pro: The story was told in alternating POVs, which I am a fan of, but what I really liked was the extra POV Barrow put in there. I think this particular POV served more than one purpose, but what I loved about it was that it came from someone outside the friendship. This person was able to see those good things that Dia, Hanna, and Jules forgot about their relationship.

• Pro: Each one of these characters had something in their past keeping them from enjoying something in their present. From addiction to failed relationships, they all had to come to terms with that something in order to move forward, and I think many can identify with that.

• Pro: I love fierce girls in bands and girls supporting girls, which was what I was treated to in this book. Barrow did a great job taking me on stage with Wildfire and bringing me through the highs and lows of their road to the Sun City Originals.

• Pro: EPILOGUE!!!! I am forever happy with authors, who gift me with epilogues, and this one was fabulous. It's a little bit of a jump ahead, and really does a nice job allaying many of my fears about the girls' futures.

Overall: This was a great story of three friends finding their way back to each other as they navigated their own personal issues. It was messy, complicated, and really wonderful.

*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for savanna waddle.
163 reviews19 followers
January 9, 2019
messy, realistic, beautiful girls. girl power friendships. music.
already one of my favorite reads of 2019.
Profile Image for Cabiria Aquarius.
446 reviews34 followers
November 18, 2019
This book took my breath away. It was so soul shattering and well written. The character arcs were well done and noticeable. The characters chosen and their personalities all made sense to the story and I absolutely adored the story. I kinda wish I could hear them play in real life that would be neat to hear what I’m reading. Really enjoyable and an eye opener too. Well done and loved it!
Profile Image for sanj.
78 reviews
December 8, 2020
To everyone sitting in their bedrooms in the 2am stillness,
listening to that song that makes your heart ache.

So I didn’t have any expectations going into this, and its one of those moments where I liked going in blind because it pleasantly surprised me and I mean that in regards to the emotional aspect of this story.

All you need to know is that this follows a set of 3 best friends who were once in a band and they reconnect through music. This is what it feel's like is about how each girl finds their own way to heal and through that process it brings them together again. They all deal with intense but real genuine issues, each of them flawed and hurting, made it easy to connect. There are some sensitive topics being discussed so please take care

We have, Dia a teenage mother who suffers a great loss, her POV deals with anxiety and overthinking a lot, it was so validating. Then we have Jules, a black lesbian, her POV’s was so cute, and the f/f ship was so healthy, It was nice. Theres Elliot who I really dont really care for, and I didn’t think it was necessary for a 4th perspective, but to each their own I guess.

Special mention to Hanna, her POV was my favourite, it dealt a-lot with self hate, and loathing. How when you’re mentally ill, its hard for you to be proud of your achievements because for anyone else it isn't an effort and it shouldn’t have been such a struggle. It felt so personal to me and while it wasn’t easy to read, its one of things that made me feel less alone and I always appreciate when authors make me feel heard in my MI.

Cons, would be......

The plot wasn’t that great, with so many perspectives it seemed to really drag out which is a shame the pace just really lacked is all, so because of that it really took me a while to get into it.

Nonetheless its a pretty decent read
Profile Image for Tara.
84 reviews
February 26, 2019
This YA book has everything going for it-a great idea, diversity, teen pregnancy, LGBT issues and music-but is so poorly written that it is disappointing. The story follows three girls who have just graduated from high school. They had formed a garage band in middle school that played at parties, but broke up because The singer/guitarist was pregnant and the drummer was abusing alcohol.

Each chapter is designated to one of the girls, but there is no difference in the voices of each girl so it is difficult to tell them apart if they don't mention the baby, alcoholism, or being a lesbian. There are also chapters from the baby's father, who died before her birth having been hit by a car. Again, his voice is no different than the girls' and there is nothing added to the story by having him included.

The writing itself is superficial and scattered, throwing the reader out of the narrative over and over. It's like the author was told to add details and 'show' rather than tell, but her response to that advice was to stick in random details that had nothing to do with the characters or story and recount tedious features of their lives that added nothing to their character development-like the number of cupcakes that the girl that works at the bakery has to make.

It was impossible to form a visual image of each character other than to know their skin color and type of hair and forget getting an image of the lesser characters. I'm not sure how all this got past an editor. 'This Is What It Feels Like' does not give the reader anything to 'feel' except frustrated. I wish that it did since it is such a good idea.
Profile Image for Diana.
Author 17 books1 follower
September 16, 2018
It's not overstating things to say that I'm obsessed with this book. Rebecca Barrow's sophomore offering has more of what we all loved about You Don't Know Me but I Know You (intense female friendships! familial Realness! queer girls of color!), dialed up with creative heartbreak, resilient dreams, and rainbow-haired swooniness. If you love girl bands, this book is for you. If you can't resist resourceful, even-keeled Mom Friends finally getting the big dramatic kiss with a dreamboat, this book is for you. If you're hungry for thoughtful representation of different kinds of teenagehood and different experiences of family, this book is absolutely for you.

Girls kissing girls. Girls kissing boys. Girls loving one another fiercely, in a myriad ways; girls building new relationships out of ash and out of green grass; girls creating themselves and changing their worlds on the way. Rebecca Barrow is one of my favorite voices in YA for a lot of reasons, but a big one is that her books aren't in a hurry. They unfurl like a time-lapse video of flower buds, beautiful and captivating. This Is What It Feels Like is a fantastic entry into the contemporary canon of youth literature, a pensive and humorous slice-of-life story with something for everyone, whether you're here for romance, family ties, or personal growth.
Profile Image for Jess Grayson (bookspastbedtime).
796 reviews445 followers
June 9, 2020
This was a super wholesome story following three very different girls who used to play in a band before their lives imploded and they went their separate ways. Two years after their division, the girls come back together to make music and learn how to become friends again.

Dia is a black, teenage mother. Hanna is a recovering alcoholic. And Jules is a black, out-and-proud, lesbian who gets into a biracial relationship during the story.

This book has friendship, music, romance, girl-love, positive depictions of female sexuality (and masturbation!!), and demonstrations of strong girls overcoming difficult obstacles and excelling. There is a lot to love about this book and I would definitely recommend you pick it up if it sounds interesting to you!

Bonus: Rebecca Barrow is a gorgeous black, queer woman who is so fun and deserves all the love and support!
Profile Image for Anja.
206 reviews11 followers
May 31, 2020
I LOVED THIS BOOK. I went into it not knowing anything about it beforehand and I ended up enjoying it much more than I thought I would so that was nice and refreshing. I cried and laughed throughout this book. This book was well-written and I loved the characters so much. Dia, Jules and Hanna are all such strong female characters that all kinds of people can look up to and I love, LOVE their friendship. I also really liked some of the supporting characters like Autumn, Elliot, Jesse and Molly. I would highly recommend this book for people who like contemporary teen fiction books.
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