Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

This Is My Brain in Love

Rate this book
Jocelyn Wu has just three wishes for her junior year: To make it through without dying of boredom, to direct a short film with her BFF Priya Venkatram, and to get at least two months into the year without being compared to or confused with Peggy Chang, the only other Chinese girl in her grade.

Will Domenici has two goals: to find a paying summer internship, and to prove he has what it takes to become an editor on his school paper.

Then Jocelyn's father tells her their family restaurant may be going under, and all wishes are off. Because her dad has the marketing skills of a dumpling, it's up to Jocelyn and her unlikely new employee, Will, to bring A-Plus Chinese Garden into the 21st century (or, at least, to Facebook).What starts off as a rocky partnership soon grows into something more. But family prejudices and the uncertain future of A-Plus threaten to keep Will and Jocelyn apart. It will take everything they have and more, to save the family restaurant and their budding romance.

384 pages, Hardcover

First published April 14, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

I.W. Gregorio

7 books374 followers
My reviews:
As Julie Ann Peters says: "Writers have enough critics in the world. I don't want to be a critic. I support writers in whatever way I can." As such, I have a very simple rating system:
*5-star reviews are for books that I LOVED and would buy for someone as a gift.
*4-star reviews are for books that I liked/admired and would recommend to someone else.

I. W. Gregorio is a practicing surgeon by day, masked avenging YA writer by night. A graduate of the Yale School of Medicine, she studied creative writing at the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University. While a surgical resident, she published in the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News and Washington Post. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children. NONE OF THE ABOVE (Balzer & Bray / HarperCollins, Fall of 2015) is her first novel. She is represented by Jessica Regel of Foundry + Media.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
584 (26%)
4 stars
955 (43%)
3 stars
515 (23%)
2 stars
128 (5%)
1 star
29 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 400 reviews
Profile Image for jv poore.
616 reviews210 followers
May 16, 2023
Jocelyn isn’t truly bitter. She is just very busy. Like most teens, she’d rather be doing just about anything aside from spending every available moment working for the family restaurant, A Plus. Until she hears her father talk of moving back into the city.

She did love New York, of course. But she had just started to love living here. She found bubble tea and Priya. Jocelyn will not go without a fight. She will save the business. And she will get help.

William saw the Help Wanted sign. Spending a summer as an intern-manager of a restaurant was not at all what we wanted, but exactly what he needed. Life is tough enough simply breathing-while-Black; suffering from anxiety on top of that sometimes felt crippling. He’d heard a hard truth. To be the reporter he wanted to be, even if it was just for his private-school newspaper, Will is going to have to ‘get out there’ and get into things.

It would be almost easy to say This Is My Brain In Love is about mental illness, but it really is not. The story is about how, as an individual, we are so many things. Jocelyn is the responsible grandchild, offspring, elder sibling and master-of-every-task in the family’s Chinese restaurant. In her spare time, she works with Priya, creating short films. And she still manages to squeeze in time with William—who wears a few hats of his own.

And, yes, some characters may deal with mental illness—whether they acknowledge it or not. It is an invisible weight, but just like in real life, it is but a small part of a greater whole. I’m so pleased to see a story show that students’ stresses do not start and stop at school. Many high-schoolers have heavy responsibilities outside of classes and grades. So many families count on their contributions.

Ms. Gregorio marvelously manages to cover and convey so much in an engaging and oh-so-easy-to-read way. It will not surprise you to know that I’m looking forward to giving away many, many copies of this YA wonder.
January 18, 2022

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

I had a lot of thoughts about THIS IS MY BRAIN IN LOVE, mostly positive, but there were a couple of things I took issue with. Mostly, though, the book was a win. Set in New York, with a heroine named Jocelyn who is Tawainese and a hero named Will who is half Nigerian and half Italian, it is the story of two teens who meet each other as employer and employee, and then end up becoming so much more in a quest to save Joceyln's family restaurant from going belly up while also confronting their chronic mental health problems admid all the stress.

This is an #ownvoices review in the sense that I have experienced both anxiety and depression at various points in my life. I thought Jocelyn's depression was portrayed very well, because a common misconception (and one that she herself believes at first) is that depression = sad. People think to themselves, "Well, I'm not sad, so how can I have depression?" But they may also have negative thought patterns, exhaustion, and lack of interest in day to day activities. The study of mental health disorders is sometimes called "Abnormal Psychology" in schools, and I really dislike that term because for people experiencing these disorders, "abnormal" is their normal, which is why it can sometimes be hard to self-diagnose; you don't feel anything out of the ordinary. This is who you are.

Will's anxiety was also nicely portrayed. I found it interesting since people said he seemed so calm while inside he described himself as simmering. I've often had people tell me that I seem "composed" and this always amuses me, because I will fret about literally anything FOREVER. It makes me a diligent worker, because like Will, I am a perfectionist who strives to get things exactly right. The portrayal of his panic attacks, while extreme, also felt very realistic, as did his fear of speaking on the phone and being put in other situations where he lacked control of the situation. Also-- speaking of Will, what a DARLING. Where was Will when I was a teen? Teen me would have loved Will.

I thought the restaurant portions were excellent. I'm a sucker for descriptions of food and when not in self-isolation mode, I love to eat out. We get some truly amazing descriptions of dumpling-making and cucumber salad, and the descriptions of Will's family's curries and soups sounded amazing, as well. "We have to save this failing place of historical importance" is a common thread in after school specials and can easily come across as hokey, but I felt like THIS IS MY BRAIN IN LOVE does a really good job explaining why small businesses are such an integral part in the community, and why having them thrive means a healthy economy.

The secondary cast of characters were also amazing. Priya was lovely; she's Jocelyn's friend. I wish we'd gotten to see more of Will's friends but they seemed cool. I liked both sets of parents, but Joceleyn's took me longer to warm up to because of her father's biases. I did warm up to him though. It was clear he wanted the best for his daughter, even if he wasn't always sure how to express that or feel comfortable enough to show it. I loved Jocelyn's Amah and Will's older sister, Grace. I also liked how there were no translations provided for the Mandarin because I'm learning Mandarin right now and understood some of the phrases, and it made me feel like I was being let in on a fun secret.

The thing I didn't like happens towards the end and was bad enough that I'm deducting a star rating. If you've read ELIZA AND HER MONSTERS, a similar scene happens, where someone has an episode with their mental health disorder and lashes out cruelly in a way that they know will hurt the most. I understand that real people do this in real life all the time, and it was the impetus for Jocelyn to finally seek outside help, but it was still ugly to read. It made me hate her a little, I'm not going to lie. There is grovelling and her friends call her on her behavior, as they should, but after that scene, I could never really go back to liking her as much as I did before that.

I appreciate authors who aren't afraid to write unlikable protagonists, because it does make them feel more realistic, but just like real people, sometimes when people do something bad enough, our feelings for them shift-- and not in a good way. That happened to me with Jocelyn. I still loved Will and felt like the way he handled the aftermath of the situation went as best as could be expected... but after that scene, I kind of felt like he deserved better, too. I guess if there's a moral here, it's that it's the difficult experiences that really test our relationship with a person and determine whether we're all in.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! 

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone.
1,535 reviews215 followers
October 22, 2020
3.5 Stars


Public service announcement
Please understand that you will want to eat potsticker dumplings at some point during this book. I therefore suggest having a takeaway menu for your local potsticker dumpling restaurant handy at all times or the ingredients necessary to make them.
End of Public service announcement.

A good exploration of mental health and the stigma associated with it. The characters were relatable and their journey believable. I valued the inclusion of a young person with ADHD but it felt like the entire cast had complex issues so the novel seemed a bit busy at times. I wouldn't call this book a romance as the main focus was how two teens with mental health issues navigated their relationship whilst dealing with family and school expectations/commitments. I loved the family dynamics in both Jocelyn's and Will's families. An enjoyable book.
Profile Image for Creya.
386 reviews254 followers
January 4, 2021
When Jocelyn’s family’s restaurant is in danger of closing, she makes it her mission to brand the business and increase revenue. She posts a help wanted sign, and in comes Will’s application to consult for A-Plus Chinese Garden. As the two continue to spend time with one another, their attractions grow. Here’s the catch: Jocelyn’s father will approve of their relationship if and only if their plan to save the restaurant is a success. Will they be able to pull it off?

This is a book that deals with social stigmas surrounding race, mental health, and prescription medications. The ending was expertly crafted. Overall, this seemed to be more of an early high school read, but I enjoyed the story a lot.
Profile Image for Katerina  Kondrenko.
498 reviews842 followers
October 9, 2019
6.7 out of 10

Read this book for work. Not my usual reading choice, 'cause between contemporary and mental illness I'd always pick up fantasy) Still! The story is pretty good! I mean, if not for my preferences, I'll give it 4 stars without doubts. Gregorio knows how teens think, feel and act. How families can be. And how to make different POVs different.
Profile Image for Rachel007.
420 reviews47 followers
May 20, 2022
Charming and full of heart, THIS IS MY BRAIN IN LOVE is about two teens who deal with being first generation immigrant kids, the family business, mental health issues, and falling in love. Recommended for fans of The Sun Is Also a Star.
Profile Image for Kelsea Yu.
Author 8 books135 followers
April 15, 2020
4.5 stars! Thanks to The Novl sending a free advanced copy, I had a chance to read this fantastic book early. Now that it’s out, I highly, highly recommend ordering a copy — you can also check the author’s insta for how to get a signed bookplate & more this month (April 2020)!
Reasons to read This is My Brain in Love:
🥡 Speaking of, it’s set in a Chinese restaurant
💰 Crazy Rich Asians references
💖 Cute romance (and yes this is coming from ME)
😍 Diverse (including neurodiverse!) characters
🖤 A nuanced, complex look at race, racism, micro aggressions, and stereotypes
📺 Movie buff girl meets journalist boy
💭 Teens with big dreams
🌚 Find out the context for this out-of-context quote: “Nothing says I love you more than whispering sweet homicidal nothings.”*

Seriously, this book was so good. This is the kind of YA contemporary romance I love seeing published! It's a great mix of fun/funny and complex/deep. The characters' voices felt perfect for YA and the dual narration worked beautifully.

As a Chinese American woman, so many little details about the story spoke to me. Small things, like the mention of youtiao (fried dough sticks -- like Chinese doughnuts -- that you can dip in drinks) made me tear up. It's such a little thing, but it spoke to my experiences growing up, to the foods I remember eating but have never seen mentioned in print before. And OMG the description of postickers... *drools*.

At this point, this probably goes without saying, but I feel it's my duty to warn you that this book will make you VERY, VERY hungry. Highly recommend reading this while eating your favorite Chinese foods!

*Quote from the ARC, may not be final
Profile Image for Laura Gardner.
1,680 reviews113 followers
September 16, 2020
LOVE this book— two teens struggling w mental health challenges find each other and learn to accept who they are. #endthestigma
Incorporates so much— intense anxiety, depression, race, class, and more. I totally ship Jos and Will! 💗
ALSO: this is another YA romance that will take your mind away from thoughts of the 🌍 on 🔥 for a bit. At least it worked for me.
Grades 7+

#middleschoollibrarian #middleschoollibrary #library #librarian #futurereadylibs #iteachlibrary #bookstagrammer #bookstagram #librariesofinstagram #librariansofinstagram #librariesfollowlibraries #librarylife #librarianlife #schoollibrarian #middlegrade #middlegradebooks #iteach #librarylove #booksbooksbooks #amreading #bibliophile #schoollibrariansrock #bookreview #bookrecommendation #igreads #malibrary #msla #mediaspecialist
Profile Image for Stefani Sloma.
405 reviews120 followers
May 8, 2020
Whew, this one was hard to read because of how much I saw myself in Will's anxiety. This book doesn't shy away from or sugarcoat real discussions of mental health, which I really appreciated. I didn't want the book to end either. Could've kept reading about both of these characters and their families forever.
Profile Image for madie c.
114 reviews3 followers
September 1, 2021
the love story was really cute but the plot in general got kinda slow like halfway through 😵‍💫 but then like the ending was good so i forgave it 😅 it was interesting to read abt mental health issues from other people’s perspectives. kind of a deep story 😳😮‍💨would def recommend.

also i did not read this book in a day (that was one time guys 🔫😐) i just forgot to mark that i started it 🕴
Profile Image for Celia.
Author 7 books510 followers
April 1, 2020
Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to review this title ahead of its release date.

THIS MY BRAIN IN LOVE is told by two POV's, Jocelyn and Will and set in Utica New York. Joc is the daughter of Chinese restaurant owners, struggling to keep afloat. She crosses paths with Will whom she hires to jumpstart the business, otherwise, her family would have to move. He helps with social media, getting the accounts out of the Stone Age, and narrowly missing death by a Chinese father when he falls for Joc and vice versa.

Joc is a clever and down to earth protagonist that we can all relate to. But she is also a perfectionist and can come across as callous at times. Will, having anxiety himself, recognizes something in Joc that concerns him. Will is an all-around nice guy and is so super sweet to Joc and her family and friends. I loved him as a love interest and protagonist.

Both main characters are persons of color. Will is half Nigerian and Joc is the daughter of Chinese immigrants. Together, they were a refreshing pair. Unlike a lot of YA contemporaries, their eventual romance is held back by more than just outside interference. Although we do have the classic, harsh Chinese parents who set restrictions on their relationship. But Will's habit of not wanting to make people uncomfortable about his condition and Joc's denial of her own makes for a rocky road.

Joc's friend, Priya is the best, but I did wish we saw more of Will's friends. The references to movie culture and food drew me in. I am a sucker for any book set against a restaurant, food truck, ANYTHING WITH FOOD. I am familiar with American Chinese food (my fav!) but I loved learning about Nigerian food and I promptly looked for restaurants in my area!

Against the backdrop of yummy Chinese food and teenage love, is the topic of mental health and the stigma that holds people back from properly addressing their concerns. I think this book hit the mark with how most people feel when faced with the idea that they may have depression, anxiety or any other mental illness. This book will resonate with the YA community for its diversity and realistic portrayal of mental illness.

BEWARE: this book will make you hungry.

Profile Image for Sara (A Gingerly Review).
2,699 reviews160 followers
July 22, 2020
3.5-4 stars

Full of tough topics, this book doesn't shy away from how real and serious mental health can be. I devoured this book and hope to have my review done soon.

Thanks to the publisher for the free copy in exchange for my honest review.


**I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I am a proud LBYR Partner**

First and foremost, let me start this review by saying that you should NOT read this book while hungry. I never wanted Asian food more in my entire life than while I was reading this book. It was torture and delightful at the same time. Second, this book does not shy away tough topics so be prepared for a metric ton of them to be mentioned, if nothing else.

I enjoyed this book a lot so that means I may struggle a bit to write my review so please be patient with me. From the start I knew I would be hooked. There was just something about the tone of the story that made me instantly know I was going to jive with it. I felt like I immediately connected with Jocelyn and wanted to do nothing more than take her for a soothing coffee and a hug. The girl was stressed in every sense of the word because she felt like she needed to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders. She felt she needed to fix everything that was wrong with her parents, her brother, her family’s business, and her own life. That’s too much for anyone to handle but Jocelyn felt it was her responsibility alone. While it made me want to give her a hug, it also frustrated me a bit. There were times when her depression and anxiety felt like it was almost too much. She suffered severe bouts of obvious depression and a friend called her out on it, but she brushed it off while still telling herself she had it. I did not understand that part.

Now Jocelyn was not the only main character in this story – enter Will. I wanted to like him more than I did. From the very start he was not shy about his anxieties but he was nervous telling people exactly what he was suffering from. I do have anxiety but not what Will experienced so I cannot speak from that level of experience, and because of that I could not relate to him as much. Nevertheless, he was a great love interest for Jocelyn. I felt they did balance each other out in friendship and in their budding romance. Granted, I felt they rushed into that far too quickly and Jocelyn was super quick to jump to negative conclusions, I did like them as a couple.

One thing that I must mention because it stood out to me is that there were a lot of mental health issues brought up in this story, and I do mean a lot. Will mentioned that his family was very open and supportive of his anxiety issues, as well as his sister’s issues. Now here comes the part that I had a problem with only because I suffer from these same issues daily: it was mentioned that his sister was diagnosed with and battled daily with an eating disorder, anorexia, and body dysmorphic disease. Why should I be so worried about these being mentioned? Well, I felt they were brought up only to move the story along. They were referenced *once* as being something serious but never talked about again. It felt like a brush off or just a, “oh! let me throw these other mental health issues into the story that many young girls go through and it’ll really make the character more relatable”. Sadly that wasn’t the case. Will’s sister had a very small part in the story so it is in my opinion as a reader that it should have never been mentioned. I will get off of my soap box now but felt the need to mention it because as someone who battles those demons daily, I felt they were not properly represented in this particular story. Alright, I’m off my soap box now.

That aside, I have to say that I really did enjoy the story. Please believe me I did. I want people to read this story! Maybe I’m just being super sensitive to those particular topics because they are serious for me (and maybe others). I just want you to have all of the facts: this book deals with DELICIOUS foods, wit, the power and importance of friendship, mental health issues, and family. It truly is a book that should be on your radar if it is not already.
Profile Image for Nadia.
179 reviews
October 9, 2020
Actual rating is 2.5 stars.

So I picked this up because I really just wanted something light hearted and fun. Lately, all I want out of the entertainment I view is to laugh and shut my brain off. Literally all I've watched recently is Psych, Kim Possible, and the Clone Wars series. All light hearted/not so serious shows that help take my mind off things. Light hearted is not a phrase I'd use to describe this book. I think if the synopsis had mentioned what this book is really about I would've decided to read something else.

So what is this book about? The synopsis tells you it's about two teens named Jocelyn and Will. Jocelyn is trying to save her family's struggling Chinese restaurant. She ends up hiring Will to help out and boom sparks fly. Sounds cute right? It was cute, for the first half of the book. What the synopsis doesn't even hint at is the fact that the second half mainly is about Jocelyn's declining mental health. Will also has an anxiety disorder and the book focuses on that as well. I wish I had known that going in. This book really started to drag and wasn't much fun reading.

Sometime after the halfway point, I really started to dislike Jocelyn. I know that sounds awful because the reason why she acts the way she does is because of her depression but man she really irritated me. She said and did some awful things to Will and her best friend that I think the book kind of glossed over. I honestly was hoping the book would end with both of them deciding to take a break from each other and Jocelyn getting help. Instead, the book ends with Jocelyn and Will staying together AND her getting help. The whole ending felt rushed and not very realistic.

There were some things I liked. Like I said, the first half of the book when Will and Jocelyn get to know each other was really cute. And I loved all of the restaurant stuff. But that was about all I liked. I found the writing to be pretty lackluster. Can't even explain how. I think if I had picked this up at a different time/known what the book was mainly about I would've enjoyed this a little more. But not by much.
Profile Image for Keah.
58 reviews9 followers
May 1, 2020
I really liked the diverse characters and learning a bit about Chinese and Nigerian food. And the exploration of mental health and the stigmas surrounding it was important.

However, I went into this expecting a light hearted romance about two teens trying to save a restaurant but it was actually pretty heavy as it dived into mental illnesses.

It also dragged a bit in the middle and I wouldn't exactly label this a romance.

I feel like this book could be important for a lot of people, but it just wasn't for me.

(i received an arc from novl for review)
Profile Image for Katie.
635 reviews75 followers
August 28, 2020
This wasn't for me. I liked the mental health rep for the most part and the diversity was good, but plot wise, I just wasn't really into it, and it was a bit of a struggle to read, and my only motivation to finish was being able to reread something I really wanted to read after finishing.
Profile Image for Isabelle.
97 reviews1 follower
May 4, 2022
was drawn to this book because of the mental health aspect-- both main characters suffer from anxiety and depression. I was disappointed because the complexity of the characters and their mental illness felt shallow. But, it was a sweet story and a decent plot
Profile Image for Heather.
664 reviews8 followers
December 15, 2020
I went into this one pretty blind (solely picked because I recognized the author from her previous book and the cover looked cool), so needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised that it addressed issues such as struggles with depression, anxiety, and the overarching umbrella of mental illness, along with interracial relationships (the MCs are Black and Asian American, respectively), and race/racism in general. This Is My Brain In Love seeks to normalize seeking help for mental illness, and even touches on where it may not be accessible because of money or other factors.

This book serves as an important story in the conversations surrounding mental illness in not just teens, but many people in general. While my experiences are different from the MCs of this book, I still felt seen in regard to my own mental illness and the long struggle I fought with before making the decision to go on medication to treat my anxiety. Someone is likely to see themselves, or perhaps a friend or family member within these pages, and this book can be a catalyst for otherwise difficult conversations that people may be afraid to have. At the heart of it all is a love story that's not overwrought or in your face, and served as another great story thread among the more serious topics. I adored this book so much, and I'm hoping that this book can be a resource for those who have struggled or are struggling now.
Profile Image for Kristen Peppercorn .
558 reviews96 followers
December 9, 2022
I skimmed the last 20% once it turned into an after school special. I felt like the author was trying too hard to preach her message for the last half of the book, it felt forced and inorganic compared to the first focus of the book, which was actually a cute little interesting story about saving a family restaurant. I’m also not fully sold on her writing a POV for Will, a black boy that didn’t feel organic either.
March 25, 2020
Thank you, The NOVL, for sending me another great ARC in exchange for an honest review! I loved the first half of this book, and the sweetness of a high school crush was just what I needed last week. Dual perspectives are the best way to tell a love story, in my opinion, because you can see both characters falling for each other. The cultural aspects of the book included both Chinese and Nigerian culture, and I really enjoyed seeing the similarities and differences between Jocelyn and Will's families, especially since they were divided by both economic status and race.

I think my 3.5 star rating is more a reflection of my current state of mind than the book itself. I've read several contemporary YA romances lately where the main themes and conflicts are caused by mental illness (see my reviews for Permanent Record, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, and When the Stars Lead to You), and this was one that hit the mark for me. It's so important to address mental health stigma, especially in Asian communities, and I appreciated the inclusion of Jocelyn's family's racism as well (this was more satisfyingly handled than it was in Frankly in Love, in my opinion, though that probably means Frankly's version is more true to life).

I just think I would have appreciated all of these aspects more if I had read this book before I was burned out on the genre. I found the ending to be predictable, things started to drag in the middle, and I was hoping we would get more of that initial Jocelyn x Will chemistry at the end (we didn't, sadly). But I did enjoy how everything was wrapped up in a way that was hopeful without being unrealistic. Overall a worthwhile read, but don't let the early lighthearted tone and the cute chapter titles fool you! This one takes a serious look at anxiety, depression, and suicide ideation.
Profile Image for Jan Raspen.
726 reviews4 followers
May 3, 2020
I thought this book was a straight-up romance until I hit 2/3 of the way through, and then the heavy-handed mental health education began. It was surprising to me, because the description I read of the book did not even mention the mental health issues the characters faced.
A few things stood out to me while reading the book. 1. The use of the word trope. I will have to look it up on my Kindle to see how many times this word came into play. Altogether too many, if you ask me. I am quite sure I did not know or understand that word as a teen. 2. Will's diagnosis of his girlfriend: I really didn't think she was depressed. Jocelyn is living in a crappy situation and is working WAY too hard to keep her family's restaurant afloat. Her parents are out of touch with American youth, and she has to navigate landing a boyfriend who is not Asian. These are big burdens for any teenager to carry. 3. It was unrealistic to me that she and Will, after their heavy makeout session in the car, would continue to see each other daily yet not even ONCE be together romantically. Not a look or a touch or a kiss or anything. I felt like the author completely turned off the romance trope and turned on the mental health trope at about 67% through the book. (See what I did there?) It was almost like reading two different books, and I would've preferred that these two different plot lines were a little more integrated.
Profile Image for Charmaine.
717 reviews1 follower
October 14, 2020
This was not my favourite book, at no fault of the author. I didn't like living in Jocelyn's head (although I bet she didn't either).

I appreciate the message that it's "okay to not be okay." But like... couldn't anyone in this story be okay? Because as much as mental health issues are normalized these days, I think it's also good to demonstrate that people can be stable without professional help. Maybe Priya? But seriously, we ran the gamut of ADHD, depression, anxiety, and anorexia. I don't know if I believe this idea that "Everyone has demons" and "Everyone has a problem that can be labelled."

I also felt that some of these characters were a bit flat, like Mr. Wu. The accents felt like caricatures. Mostly, I felt ashamed that I couldn't understand the pinyin despite being Chinese (my fault!). I was pleasantly surprised by some of the demonstrations of parental support by the end though.

The one contradiction that bugged me a TON throughout the story was Jocelyn's perspective on Utica. She kept lamenting that all she wanted was to "get out of this town" and "not be tied to the restaurant forever." Um, that's literally what your parents were proposing at the start of the book, by moving to New York City?? Why did you go on this giant campaign to stay and save the restaurant? It was illogical, and I don't support the idea of writing off the contradiction as a byproduct of Jocelyn's own inconsistency.
Profile Image for Dahlia.
Author 18 books2,496 followers
March 16, 2020
It was really jarring to see so much of myself in Will, and maaaan I wish I'd had this book in high school or even college so I could've understood exactly what was going on with my brain and why I sucked at the sourcing aspect of Journalism. I thought this was really great, if a little lighter on the "love" portion than I was expecting - and an excellent reading buddy with Jennifer Dugan's VERONA COMICS - and was inspired enough by the author's note and resources to flag them so I could use them for myself. I'd call that a win.
Profile Image for Madison.
1,078 reviews62 followers
April 5, 2020
This is My Brain in Love celebrates family and is a wonderful representation of mental health in YA. From everything from a positive experience of therapy to overcoming the stigma of a diagnosis, cultural and family expectations and denial, this is a positive and inclusive portrayal of anxiety and depression. It’s also a wonderful mix of cultures and the wonderful food that comes with those cultures. If you enjoyed The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling, this is the perfect book for you.

Jocelyn Wu is surprised to learn her family’s restaurant is facing closure. Sure, it’s old and kind of rumpled around the edges, but it’s home. To prevent having to move away from her best friend, she sets out to improve the restaurant, including adding social media pages, new features and employing someone to help out and build them a website. Enter Will Domenici. They click and working together is fun, but both Will and Jocelyn are hiding secrets and saving the family restaurant might not be enough to save their budding romance.

Whoa. That prologue kind of threw me, giving this book a sort-of trigger warning for suicide. And while the narrator tries to reassure the reader, it kind of did the opposite. It certainly had me intrigued and ready to jump straight into the book to find out more.

And, actually, things never get as serious as hinted at at the start and a few times foreshadowed in the book. It’s a light book, despite the overtones of mental health and depression, financial difficulties and the possible failure of a family business.

I really enjoyed Will and Jocelyn’s relationship. They connect straight away, and despite their awkwardness manage to form a relationship pretty soon into the story. This is where the book differs from other YA romances. We don’t have to wait for the outcome of the possibility. We already have that, the characters must face and focus on the obstacles to their continued dating (and kissing), including their own mental health and the expectations of their families.

I really enjoyed the times, and it is the majority of the book, where Will and Jos are working together to improve her family’s Chinese restaurant. They make a great team and the project and work they throw themselves into was a great part of the book. The inclusion of all those dumplings and smells and tastes of the food didn’t hurt either.

A sweet story about facing the reality of mental health, the complications of relationship and the blessing of family and good food, lovers of realistic YA fiction will eat This is My Brain In Love right up.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,534 reviews234 followers
April 23, 2020
Just when Jocelyn was finding her groove, the family business takes a turn for the worst. In an effort to save A-Plus Chinese Garden, Jocelyn enlists the help of Will, and the two embark on a mission to rebuild the business. As the ideas to jumpstart the business flew, so did the sparks, but this romance hits a few roadblocks, and some may be insurmountable.

• Pro: I had no problem rooting for everyone and everything in this story. I wanted the restaurant to succeed, for Jos's movie to be a hit, for Will to get his story, for Jos and Will to find their HEA. It was important for me to see them all get what they wanted or needed, because I guess I thought they deserved it.

• Pro: The food! Not only did we get to "enjoy" many Chinese treats, but there was also a bit of Nigerian food in the mix. It was all described in such rich detail, that my mouth actually watered.

• Pro: I never was involved in any sort of small business, but I was fully enthralled by all the different things Jos and Will were doing to try and resuscitate the restaurant.

• Con: I would have liked more time dedicated to the actual romance, though the bits that were there were wonderful.

• Pro: I always appreciate an OwnVoices perspective, and Gregorio wrote this story as an Asian person, who has battled mental illness, but is also a doctor. I think because this, she brings a lot of insight to this story, which is not found in many other similar type books.

• Pro: Depression, anxiety, and multiple spectrum disorders are featured in this book. Though the mental illnesses were given a deeper treatment, I appreciated the way all were explored.

Overall: An honest story of family and young love, which tackles mental illnesses and the stigma that surround them.

Profile Image for Jolene.
Author 1 book24 followers
June 10, 2023
This is my brain on LOOKING IN AN EFFIN' MIRROR.

I read this one in preparation for helping host the Book Love Foundation's summer book club discussion, and oh man, I did not expect to be bowled over like this. But so much of it was familiar to me -- traits I've seen in myself and in my relationships. The anxiety and pessimism and insecurity. The way Jos misinterprets what Will says and then Will misinterprets her response, and things spiral from there. The way mental illness can be dismissed as bitchiness or laziness or weakness. The way we ALL have something to work on and how much healthier it is to acknowledge that than to put on a brace face and feel totally alone.

The only reason I'm rounding down to 4-stars is because there is a bit of a But there's so much to love here, and I'm so thrilled that a bunch of teachers will read this book this summer and then introduce it to students next year. I'm already planning to include it in my freshman book club picks.
Profile Image for evelyn.
97 reviews
April 18, 2023
pretty enjoyable book, it's probably like a strong 3.75 but just not really personal taste.

plot: it's definitely less of a romance than sort of a coming of age and struggling with mental illness, so don't read it for the romance LOL. i enjoyed the little details in the story, and felt like the plot was pretty realistic. i liked how there was no like cure all at the end of the book-- there was still lots to do, but you could still recognize the development.

characters: i think this is sort of where it fell flat. each of the main characters feels like their traits are mostly pretty one dimensional and centered around their respective mental struggle. minor spoiler: i know that it's supposed to be like that, but Jocelyn started to annoy me a little bit. however, the author can really write out realistic scenes like they were pretty much exactly how teenagers would act.

i also really enjoyed the insight into Asian/Nigerian culture and lifestyle, and found myself relating to a lot of things. the book felt really cozy if that makes sense LOL anyways can't wait to go back to Taiwan!
Profile Image for Kristy♡.
608 reviews
January 7, 2022
3.5 stars!

I checked this out on a whim when I seen it was available on Libby. I'm really glad I tried this one out and I overall just really enjoyed it.

This is a YA novel that I assumed was going to be a light and fluffy kind of read. While it was both light and fluffy at times, it also had it's serious moments as well. I really liked the diversity this book gave and getting to know these characters. I've noticed lately that I absolutely love when characters have a restaurant in the story so that part alone had me intrigued. Also, I really liked how this book brought up mental health. You can never stress mental health awareness enough, and I'm glad this book brought attention to it.
Profile Image for Abby Wilson.
8 reviews2 followers
May 3, 2022
It took a while to get into the book, but it was so good in the middle of it. I really like how it brings in the factor of mental health in teens and makes it something you could possibly relate too. I also really love books with the back and forth of characters helps me get the full story. I would definitely recommend this to anybody!
Profile Image for Paige.
1,732 reviews82 followers
March 28, 2020
Disclaimer: I received an arc from TheNovl! Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: This is My Brain in Love

Author: I. W. Gregorio

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Chinese and Nigerian culture/characters!

Publication Date: April 14, 2020

Genre: YA Contemporary

Recommended Age: 14+ (mental health discussed, love)

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 384

Amazon Link

Synopsis: Jocelyn Wu has just three wishes for her junior year: To make it through without dying of boredom, to direct a short film with her BFF Priya Venkatram, and to get at least two months into the year without being compared to or confused with Peggy Chang, the only other Chinese girl in her grade.

Will Domenici has two goals: to find a paying summer internship, and to prove he has what it takes to become an editor on his school paper.

Then Jocelyn's father tells her their family restaurant may be going under, and all wishes are off. Because her dad has the marketing skills of a dumpling, it's up to Jocelyn and her unlikely new employee, Will, to bring A-Plus Chinese Garden into the 21st century (or, at least, to Facebook).What starts off as a rocky partnership soon grows into something more. But family prejudices and the uncertain future of A-Plus threaten to keep Will and Jocelyn apart. It will take everything they have and more, to save the family restaurant and their budding romance.

Review: I thought this book was very well done. The book doesn’t shy away from the tough issues faced in this book and the characters are very well developed. The plot was intriguing and I loved how the book did with the dual POV. It was such a cute story!

My only issue was that the story moves fairly slowly in places.

Verdict: A well done contemporary!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 400 reviews

Join the discussion

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.