Review: Imagine Us Happy by Jennifer Yu // An Unforgettable, Heartbreaking Read About Toxic Relationships Feat. Complex Teens!!

This was an incredibly intense novel, but I do think it is one you should pick up if you feel like you can handle the subject matter. Imagine Us Happy deals with a toxic relationship between two people who are going through their own issues, and it was hard to read at times. Though I just said that it was a difficult book to read at times, Yu’s writing style was so smooth and readable, and I, therefore, binged it in a matter of hours on a school day, because I just couldn’t put it down.

Something I really appreciated in this novel is that Yu doesn’t villainize either Stella nor Kevin, but presents them as two people who are going through their individual problems and are ultimately not good for each other. She develops both Stella and Kevin as characters very well, so I personally felt that I understood them both fairly well.

I really enjoyed the side characters, in particular, Stella’s friends Katie and Lin. I appreciated how they subverted the typical tropes that they seemed to initially follow (Katie being the sociable party girl, and Lin being your Ivy-aiming overachiever), especially with Lin, who was an Asian character. I myself found many things I had in common with Lin, which was super fun to see!

It has a whole lot of good here, too. I feel like Yu is one of those writers who genuinely gets teenagers and high school, and this reflected in how high school was written as a whole. And there is a platonic relationship between a guy and a girl, as well as a healthy relationship in this book, which I thought provided EXCELLENT contrast especially compared to Stella and Kevin’s relationship.

As much as I think this was phenomenal, there were a couple of things that did give I do feel the ending was a bit abrupt, which really annoyed me because I thought that Yu was going to close it up a bit better but I guess not?

Another thing that may cause some controversy and/or disagreement with this book: the timeline. While I personally believe the timeline was done well, it did get confusing at times? The timeline was chronological, for the most part, but it was a non-linear sort of chronological. Like, we would be reading about Stella in October, and then it would jump to February and then would jump back to December? It was probably my biggest gripe about the whole novel, and it did really jar me and lose me at parts, too.

This was such a simultaneously important and heartbreaking novel that I think will do so much good for teens, especially those who have gone through abusive and/or toxic relationships. Imagine Us Happy is one of those novels that you only really feel the whole intensity of it when you read its final pages, and what a ride it was. I would definitely recommend this as a whole though.

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Have you read Imagine Us Happy, or any works by Jennifer Yu? Are you interested in this book? I would love to know in the comments.

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17 thoughts on “Review: Imagine Us Happy by Jennifer Yu // An Unforgettable, Heartbreaking Read About Toxic Relationships Feat. Complex Teens!!

  1. I’m so glad you enjoyed this! I haven’t read many books which tackle toxic relationships but I really adore hard-hitting and heavy contemporary books!! (that sounds so weird to say but if a book emotionally affects you ITS GOOD) this is genuinely a really well-written review. honestly, the Asian rep and platonic friendship really want to make me pick this up but that timeline thing kinda puts me off tbh. this wasn’t on my TBR previously but it is now ❤ I am very intrigued aha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really do love hard hitting and heavy contemporary books, and even though I’m rarely emotionally affected by books (i.e I rarely cry omg now I sound like a cold hearted reader lol), i do enjoy the experience!!

      thank you so much for your sweet comment! i feel like i am getting better at writing reviews, even though i am really bad at actually writing them? ahaha. the asian rep wasn’t front and center (the MCs are white) but at least it was still there and also this was written by an asian author … so bonus? the platonic friendship was well done and i was so glad it was left at that.

      i’m so glad that you added this to your TBR because of me, that is so sweet ❤ i hope you enjoy it, should you pick it up.


  2. Ahhh omg great review! I was already excited to read this, but now I’m even more so. I’m trash for any book with good mental health representation, so Jennifer Yu’s works have been on my tbr for a while. I haven’t got this one, but I did recently buy Four Weeks, Five People by her, and I’ve been really hyped to read it, because it honestly sounds like everything I’ve ever wanted in a book 😍 But after reading your review of this, I reckon I’ll have to bump both her works up my tbr list. I’m glad you enjoyed this, and hopefully your next read is just as good 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Laura! I haven’t read Four Weeks, Five People but I heard that one has amazing mental health rep too! I’ve heard great things about FW,FP so hopefully I’ll pick it up soon! I hope you read and enjoy it, and seriously, it touches me that my review made you bump this up your TBR! Happy reading to you too, and have an amazing day ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a lovely review, Taasia ❤ ❤ I'm very curious about this book, especially given that it deals with a toxic relationship and I'm always interested in reading about that topic, but I have to say that the timeline seems a bit confusing, I'm scared of being a little… lost while reading? :/ I'll have to keep that book in mind though, thank you so much for this review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you sm Marie, you’re the sweetest ahhh ❤❤ I think the topic of toxic relationships are really important and that Yu did well on it! The timeline is only a little bit annoying in the middle and (maybe?) at the end, but you’re good for at least the first third of it! While the timeline annoyed me too, I don’t think you’ll get too lost, even though I get if you’re not interested in this because of the timeline, because a couple of people said that too.

      Thank you for your kind comment, and have the happiest of reading ❤❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s good to know! I like flashbacks and different timelines in books…. but I’m scared that they can be confusing, too, haha. thank you for the heads up 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, I have heard of this through Elise from The Bookish Actress but not much from other people! I might read this for the toxic relationship portrayal because I definitely have experience in that department. Though mine is with toxic friendships!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did hear some positive reviews about this other than from Elise, but Elise was defo the main person I heard this from! I’m so sorry you had to go through toxic relationships/friendships, those people don’t deserve you ❤ I definitely can relate and it really isn’t fun, why do people have to be like this? Have an amazing day and happiest of reading love ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. this sounds like an amazing book!!! adding to my tbr list which i probably won’t touch till the summer (#collegelifesobs) but i really want to read it now!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh I have heard many things about this book and especially about the trauma representation in this book, and how amazing it is! I’m so excited, and it’s good to know that it has an accurate depiction of high school ❤ also the cover is… gorgeous? That blue tho. I loved your review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh I hope you enjoy it if you’re interested in reading it! That cover is gorgeous, and since I LOVE blue, that blue-turquoise shade got me 😍 Aww thank you so much for your kind comment, Ju! Says you though omg, I love your reviews 😩❤🤧


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