The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love

Book review by
Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media
The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love Book Poster Image
Sweet story of geek boy desperately trying to get the girl.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

One of the main characters is Iranian, so a few Farsi phrases and Iranian foods are mentioned. Readers get a look at how much work goes into the stories and artwork in comic books and graphic novels.

Positive Messages

The story focuses on various positive relationships. It also shows that sometimes you have to roll with things and not overplan; when you're too rigid in your expectations, you might miss opportunities. Characters learn the benefit of introspection and evaluating their behaviors.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most of the teen characters are smart, creative, inquisitive kids. Even though a few of them sneak out and break some rules, they are generally responsible. All are good friends to one another and work out misunderstandings. Roxana and her family welcomed Graham into their home when he was new to the neighborhood. Graham is negative when things aren't going his way, but he confronts his feelings and matures over the course of the story. Roxana, Felicia, and Amelia are strong female characters. Casey's a responsible, smart boy and a good friend to Graham. The adult characters, mostly parents, are warm people who are caring toward their kids.

Violence

Graham fantasizes about punching someone in the face.

Sex

The book is focused on Graham's desire to woo his best friend, Roxana. He thinks about how much he loves her and would like to kiss her. Aside from a kiss on the hand, no sexual contact discussed or shown.

Language

Some strong language sprinkled though the book: "bulls--t," "a--hole," "f--k" and its variations, "s--t," "d--k," "chrissakes," "damn," "a--wipe," "son of a bitch," "douche," "God," "ass," and "balls."

Consumerism

Because much of the book's action takes place at New York Comic Con, it has many pop culture and product references, especially to comic books, graphic novels, games, and movies, including Magic the Gathering, Pokémon, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Harry Potter, X-Men, Electronic Arts, Entertainment Weekly, and Wonder Woman. Other brands and media mentioned include iPad, BBC America, Hershey's Kisses, Google, Converse, Geico, Toyota Prius, Law & Order: SVU, Princess Bride, The Voice, and John Hughes movies, specifically Pretty in Pink.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Roxy and Graham drink beer at a karaoke bar, though they're only 16. Roxy stops at one, but Graham has a few more. Neither has ever had alcohol before.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love is a humorous romance told from a nerdy boy's point of view. Graham and Roxy have been friends since they bonded over Harry Potter books at age 8. Eight years later, Graham is in love with Roxy and is determined to tell her at New York Comic Con. Lots of obstacles get in his way, and the story follows his growing desperation and worry over the situation. Most of the content is pretty tame. All the characters are decent people, and no scary or violent situations are depicted. The kids do have some beer at a bar, and Roxy lies to her parents and skips school. There's some infrequent strong language, including "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and "douche."

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What's the story?

Graham has fallen in love with his best friend and comic book-writing collaborator, Roxy. He decides he needs to bare his soul to her. New York Comic Con is approaching, providing the perfect place to declare his love, as the two share many interests revolving around comics, graphic novels, and superheroes. Unfortunately for Graham, one well-laid plan after another goes awry. As he scrambles to figure out other romantic gestures, he and his friends meet other kids, who further thwart his plans. Graham is left alternately fuming and despondent, and his opportunities to confess his love to Roxy dwindle. Through the course of the Comic Con weekend, he figures out a lot about himself, his family, his friendships, and what it means to truly love someone.

Is it any good?

This tale of a comic book geek's plan to profess his love to his best friend is sweet and funny. It nails teen relationships and Comic Con culture without stooping to stereotypes. Those into comics, graphic novels, superheroes, and video games likely will love this book. Author Sarvanaz Tash gets the details of this culture right. The characters are smart, funny, creative, and inquisitive, not pedantic, annoying nose-pickers as these kids are so often portrayed. The environment of Comic Con is well detailed and paints the buzzing excitement in the halls. Graham is a wonderful main character. He's a tortured, lovesick teen but not annoyingly so. He tries too hard to control the weekend in which he's to profess his love to Roxy but quickly learns that he needs to go with the flow and let things happen naturally. He also learns that facing up to adversity makes him a better writer. His character growth in the book is fun to follow. The other characters are all interesting and add a lot of flavor to the story, and the interactions among the kids adds most of the humor. Tash writes authentic teen dialogue. The story is straightforward and mostly dialogue, so it's a quick read. In fact, it almost reads like a movie script.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about superheroes and other story series. What do superhero stories and lore offer to those who are into them? Do they look like cartoons or simple bad-vs.-good tales, or do you find deeper meaning in many of the stories?

  • What do you think is the downfall of idolizing famous actors, writers, and directors? Have you ever been really into a story series only to be disappointed by the direction it took?

  • Would you ever be allowed to skip school for something you were really into, such as Comic Con? What kind of deal would you offer to make it happen?

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