Just like Ophelia can’t help falling in love, you’ll fall head over heels for this debut YA novel exploring sexuality, friendship, and growing up. Ophelia Rojas is a character that you can’t help but love, and her journey through figuring out what it means for her to be queer while navigating her senior year with her adorable––yet complex––friend group is a story you don’t want to miss out on.
Content Warnings: mentions of underage drinking and vaping, topical mentions of sex, cut-off use of a homophobic slur (challenged), condemned homophobia, discussion of anti-Blackness within a mixed-race Latine family (challenged).
Summary: Ophelia Rojas knows what she likes: her best friends, Cuban food, rose-gardening, and boys – way too many boys. Her friends and parents make fun of her endless stream of crushes, but Ophelia is a romantic at heart. She couldn’t change, even if she wanted to.
So when she finds herself thinking more about cute, quiet Talia Sanchez than the loss of a perfect prom with her ex-boyfriend, seeds of doubt take root in Ophelia’s firm image of herself. Add to that the impending end of high school and the fracturing of her once-solid friend group, and things are spiraling a little out of control. But the course of love––and sexuality––never did run smooth. As her secrets begin to unravel, Ophelia must make a choice between clinging to the fantasy version of herself she’s always imagined or upending everyone’s expectations to rediscover who she really is, after all.
The Friend Group That Feels Like Family Vibes
As soon as you’re introduced to Sammie, Agatha, Lindsay, Wesley, Talia, and Zaq, you’ll wish they were your friends IRL. The portrayal of the complex dynamics between a big friend group is so accurate. Seeing how they navigate the growing pains they go through with such emotional intelligence and sensitivity is heartwarming and inspiring. The friendships all felt realistic and fleshed out and expertly dealt with the intricate fragility of senior year friend groups on the brink of huge life changes.
The Realistic, Raw Portrayal Of A Queer Coming-Of-Age
This story features bi, gay, and aro/ace representation as Ophelia realizes she’s queer and explores her identity while learning more about her friends in the process. What makes this story so special is that Ophelia’s journey with sexuality is shown in such a relatable and raw light. It’s messy and confusing, and everyone has their own unique journey, and Ophelia After All portrays that in such a tender way. Your heart will melt at Ophelia’s support system as she goes through a questioning phase and as she comes into her own with her queerness and identity.
Ophelia’s Lovable Personality
Ophelia Rojas is a Cuban-Irish-American teen who loves botany, boys, and her friends. These are the facts we learn about her at first glance, and as you read, you’ll fall in love with Ophelia’s passion for her roses and all the cute names she has for them, her fun, slightly awkward nature, and her deep love for her friends. She’s flawed and funny, and most of all, extremely relatable.
The Family Dynamics
In the beginning, Ophelia is super close with her parents and talks to them about more than many teenagers would. Her mom is an English professor and named her after Shakespeare’s character Ophelia, and she shares a love of Cuban food with her father. As she struggles with the changes she’s going through, her relationship with her parents evolves and is tested in ways it has never been before. Watching Ophelia navigate new landscapes in their relationship was emotional yet heartfelt. You’ll be rooting for them the whole time, and you’ll love the ways they support and come together. Plus, there are other kinds of family dynamics explored through Ophelia’s friends, like Talia having to deal with her homophobic aunt and cousin but gaining the support she needs from her dad, or Wesley’s wholesome parents buying Pride merch.
The Highs And Lows Of Senior Year
This story portrays what it feels like to be on the precipice of one of the biggest life changes there is, and it’s so painfully familiar. Through the looming pressure of prom and graduation, Ophelia and her friends go through some tough growing pains. Two friend groups merge, Lindsay runs for prom queen, Agatha doubts her fashion abilities, and Sammie and Wesley compete against each other in a love triangle that’s doomed to end when they all go off to college. Meanwhile, Ophelia grapples with the knowledge that she probably won’t remain friends with each of them once they graduate and move on to the next phase of life. Knowing that and having it add so much pressure to the end of senior year is such a poignant part of high school that’s rarely talked about.
Have we convinced you yet? Ophelia After All is queer, Latine, and just so good.
Ophelia After All by Racquel Marie is out February 8th and is available for preorder here.
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