In Racquel Marie’s Ophelia After All, the reader follows Ophelia Rojas, a Cuban-Irish seventeen-year-old who adores gardening, Cuban food, hanging out with her best friends, and crushing on boys. Throughout her life, her parents and friends have teased her about being a hopeless romantic—referring to her as “boy-crazy Ophelia.” However, as senior prom and graduation near, she starts to develop an affirming crush on her classmate, Talia Sanchez. These new feelings awaken questions inside Ophelia about her true identity and sexuality---making her wonder if she is the same old Ophelia as she was earlier. With navigating the end of high school and the fragility of her once close friend group, Ophelia's journey truly tugs at the heart's chords. I loved that it was messy and complicated yet equally genuine and raw in its manner of describing the hurdles of adolescence and the process of discovering who you truly are. All of Ophelia's inner thoughts, filled with teenage angst, confusion, sadness, and anger, were so relatable that I sympathized with her every second. In addition, it was refreshing to see a break from the stereotypical teenage main character who has their entire life figured out and a perfect relationship with the people in their life, as Ophelia was the complete opposite. The disagreements and conflicts that she shared with her friends and family were unfiltered, and while painful, they were necessary for Ophelia to grow closer to the people in her life. Furthermore, I adored Ophelia's diverse friend group ranging from Sammie, a Pakistani American, who can only be described as the life of the party, Agatha, a Black and confident plus-sized fashion designer, and Lindsay, the popular girl whose torn between two boys, and Wesley and Zacquairah, who are dealing with their respective obstacles in life. While flawed in several aspects, these individuals learn to face the struggles of teenage life together. Lastly, I cannot forget to express my love to Ophelia's parents, who, despite struggling to understand and cooperate with their daughter at the time, grew closer to her by the end. In this heartwarming coming-of-age novel, Racquel Marie crafts a story of what can only be described as a hug in a book, that tackles heartbreak, love, messy family and friendship dynamics, and that it is okay not to have everything figured out in the present moment. Marie reminds us that while change is inevitable and scary---the people who love us will always stay by our side. I would recommend this book to anyone who is struggling to come to terms with their identity and sexuality or simply for anyone who wants to read a coming-of-age novel about rediscovering yourself.
About This Book
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.