Balzer + Bray
Published May 2, 2023
About Imogen, Obviously
With humor and insight, #1 New York Times bestseller Becky Albertalli explores the nuances of sexuality, identity, and friendship.
Imogen Scott may be hopelessly heterosexual, but she’s got the World’s Greatest Ally title locked down.
She’s never missed a Pride Alliance meeting. She knows more about queer media discourse than her very queer little sister. She even has two queer best friends. There’s Gretchen, a fellow high school senior, who helps keep Imogen’s biases in check. And then there’s Lili—newly out and newly thriving with a cool new squad of queer college friends.
Imogen’s thrilled for Lili. Any ally would be. And now that she’s finally visiting Lili on campus, she’s bringing her ally A game. Any support Lili needs, Imogen’s all in.
Even if that means bending the truth, just a little.
Like when Lili drops a tiny queer bombshell: she’s told all her college friends that Imogen and Lili used to date. And none of them know that Imogen is a raging hetero—not even Lili’s best friend, Tessa.
Of course, the more time Imogen spends with chaotic, freckle-faced Tessa, the more she starts to wonder if her truth was ever all that straight to begin with. . .
I feel like I have so much to say about this book. First, let me talk about the romance and self-discovery story that the author expertly delivers. I think I’ve only read maybe half of the books Becky Albertalli has written, but every one I read is well-crafted. And every one seems to be better than the ones before. Which isn’t to say I didn’t like the earlier books… just that I’m even more engaged with each subsequent one.
Imogen’s character pretty much had me at hello. She’s a sweet, anxious girl who struggles with people-pleasing (totally relatable!), and she continually strives to listen and learn as a queer ally. I adored the connection she makes with Tessa and the way their friendship and the possibility of more develops. I couldn’t wait to see how things would turn out for them.
Can There Be Too Much Emphasis on Politics?
Like Immy in one scene of the book, I feel a little uneasy even seeing that headline. Let me, hopefully, explain what I mean. One thing the book (deftly, if sometimes painfully) explores is the gatekeeping that can sometimes happen in the queer community. Who’s allowed to call themselves queer? Who’s faking? When is it okay for someone to remain closeted? Is there a threshold of prejudice someone must face for being queer before they can be respected for their identity?
The book asks a lot of questions like this, and gives readers a lot of time to think about their answers. I like that because of the identities of the chosen cast of characters, the story gives space to people having different viewpoints. Without ever stating that queer people aren’t a monolith, we see this in action. I loved that, though at times some of the ideas discussed were painful or toxic.
I also felt like the painful/toxic ideas got addressed. Sometimes it didn’t happen as immediately as I hoped, but it did happen. Sometimes this meant Immy speaking up for herself, and other times it meant someone else challenging a hurtful idea she’d internalized. Which feels like evidence of a healthy friend group to me.
Writing From Experience
In 2020, Becky Albertalli released an essay on Medium in which she talked about some of the issues that come up in this book, specifically about the way that people assume things about someone’s identity and how damaging that can be, even when the conversation is part of a larger, important one. I couldn’t help thinking about this article when I read certain scenes of IMOGEN, OBVIOUSLY. I don’t want to judge which things were incidental to the story and which were things she purposely included from her own experience. But I’m grateful for the things this book will add to those conversations about identity.
All in all, I think this was a sweet, engaging story of romance and self-discovery. I love that it explored some queer issues and discourse often debated online, and that it gave readers a minute to pause, digest, and challenge ideas at their own pace.
Content Notes for Imogen, Obviously
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Imogen’s sister is a lesbian. She has a Brazilian American friend who identifies as pansexual, and another who identifies as bisexual.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used fairly frequently.
Kissing between two girls.
One character is Jewish and mentions attending holidays and celebrations.
Some homophobic and biphobic comments.
Teens drink alcohol before and during a college party.
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