Young Adult books haven't been my thing for a good number of years. I don't enjoy almost all of them and pretty much gave up hope that I'll love any new YA book.

But then I Hope This Doesn't Find You came along and smashed through my expectations. I read it in almost one sitting and immediately persuaded a friend to read it. Let me explain why it was so good.

about I Hope This Doesn't Find You

i hope this doesn't find you book cover

Snarky and romantic, I Hope This Doesn't Find You is Never Have I Ever meets To All the Boys if Lara Jean wrote hate emails instead of love letters.

Sadie Wen is perfect on paper: school captain, valedictorian, and a "pleasure to have in class." It’s not easy, but she has a trick to keep her model-student smile plastered on her face at all times: she channels all her frustrations into her email drafts. She'd never send them of course -- she'd rather die than hurt anyone's feelings -- but it's a relief to let loose on her power-hungry English teacher or a freeloading classmate taking credit for Sadie's work.

All her most vehemently worded emails are directed at her infuriating cocaptain, Julius Gong, whose arrogance and competitive streak have irked Sadie since they were kids. "You're attention starved and self-obsessed and unbearably vain . . . I really hope your comb breaks and you run out of whatever expensive hair products you've been using to make your hair appear deceptively soft..."

Sadie doesn't have to hold back in her emails, because nobody will ever read them... that is, until they're accidentally sent out.

Overnight, Sadie’s carefully crafted, conflict-free life is turned upside down. It's her worst nightmare -- now everyone at school knows what she really thinks of them, and they're not afraid to tell her what they really think of her either. But amidst the chaos, there's one person growing to appreciate the "real" Sadie -- Julius, the only boy she's sworn to hate...

Content warnings: parental abandonment, bullying

my review

Although it looks like the book has been a bit popular in the online book community, I didn't come across it until I saw it on Cath's vlog. The cover and blurb intrigued me so much that I didn't think twice about getting a digital copy immediately.

I read the book in almost one sitting because it was so intriguing and hooked me right from the start.

Sometimes I think I would give them one of my own arms if they asked very nicely.

The book starts with Sadie going out of her way to put extra effort into a random chore and becoming competitive with Julius. We see her dreaming about her perfect future to get through today's troubles.

Sadie is an interesting character to read about. She's a snarky person in her mind but is a pushover to everyone around her. It's jarring to see her think "no, you can fail your classes" and then say "yes, of course, I'll send you my notes and colour code it as you want."

Sadie has a dream. She wants to get a stable job so that her mom can enjoy luxury without having to exhaust herself by running her shop. Although she has an older brother, Sadie doesn't pin any hopes on him taking care of them so she works extra hard to be able to do it.

The book makes you feel helpless for a long time. At least, I felt it. It was hard to watch Sadie—brilliant, smart, worthy Sadie—crumble to receive validation from everyone around her. She competes and collects badges while being extremely nice to everyone so that she can graduate school with the highest accolades and get a stable job. That's... not how a teenager should be. But that is how she is.

I wanted to reach through the book and shake her. Even when she's been utterly humiliated and hated, all she wants to do is fix things and win people over again. She doesn't think that others are unworthy of her effort because of how bad they are, she only thinks of wanting their approval.

It is easy to root for Sadie because of how flawed she is. She's highly flawed like any teenager who thinks that they have to do and be everything.

We learn why she is that way and see her slowly, very slowly, begin to unlearn her toxic habits and grow out of her vulnerability. It is heartwarming to see her finally leave her shell and become the confident, bossy person that she has always been on the inside. Her character growth is so nice.

What I'm realizing is that if you're quiet about the things that hurt you, people are only going to mistake your tolerance for permission. And they're going to hurt you again and again.

Sadie's story is a nice way of showing that it does NOT pay off to be the "good girl" all the time. Although we're told that girls have to be nice, kind, polite, and have to bend over backwards to make others happy to be accepted, we shouldn't be that person.

Life is much more than being a good girl. It is about having fun with friends and slacking off once in a while. It is definitely not about being trampled over for years so that you can eventually get to be happy.

When I read Michelle Albanes-Davis's Good Girl article a while after reading I Hope This Doesn't Find You, it made me realize just why I felt so much through Sadie's story.

Sadie was The Good Girl™ and the only way she could sustain being that for so long was through writing scathing email drafts whenever she was angry. Every time she was undermined, humiliated, bullied, angry, upset, etc., she would write an email with all her thoughts in angry words.

Was it a healthy coping mechanism? No, she should have stood up for herself in action. But she thought that she had to be a certain way to achieve the success and life that she dreamed of.

But all those expectations heaped upon young women are nonsense. It is highly unhealthy to be nice and kind all the time, especially when you're being taken advantage of. You HAVE to stand up for yourself because no one else can do it for you. I Hope This Doesn't Find You drove that point home in such a good way. And as I said recently, I'm glad more media address this nowadays.

Let me establish for now and forever that you will never be second. You will never be inadequate. You will never be anything but good.

The other thing that made this book so good was the romance between Sadie and Julius. The academic-rivals-to-lovers trope was executed brilliantly.

Right from the start, we see how competent and competitive the two are. It is quickly obvious that Sadie is borderline obsessed with Julius and practically tries to one-up him at all times of the day. Anything he does, she tries to do better. Anything he says, she will disagree with.

As one Tumblr post said, "Throw darts at it all you want, but you still printed out a picture of them to hang on your wall." This book truly showed the thin line between love and hate.

Julius might be the only one who knows that Sadie is not the pushover that she pretends to be. When her emails get sent out, they simply confirm his suspicions and he hates her more. They bicker and fight until they're made to do volunteer work as they're ruining their "co-captain relationship".Only, as they spend more time together and the layers between them are slowly removed, they bond quickly.

They each have different reasons for wanting to be the best and get the most accolades. As they learn each other's motivations and vulnerabilities, it is hard for them to not develop feelings. They know each other so well in a way that it's a small leap to knowing each other well in a different way.

I loved how they hurt each other unintentionally and made up and ended up together in the sweeetest way. I loved the declarations they made to each other—it was like poetry. I also loved how it wasn't just the guy who makes declarations and stands up for her, she does the same for him.

It was such a cute romance and I actually became emotional over two fictional teenagers. After such a long time!

overall

It's an easy read that will hook you in and make you forget about your life for a while. It has great characters and a great storyline. It has an adorable romance and a good plot outside of the romance too.

In short, I highly recommend this book. There's a reason everyone praises this book—at least, as far as I have seen.

chat with me!

Have you read I Hope This Doesn't Find You? Did you like it? What do you think of Young Adult books nowadays? Do you think they have changed in the past few years? Tell me in the comments!

photo of Sumedha

Sumedha spends her days reading books, bingeing Kdramas, drawing illustrations, and blogging while listening to Lo-Fi music. Read more ➔

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3 comments

  • Bianca says:

    I need to bump this higher on my TBR. I've been aware of it for a while, and you can always convince me to read something with the words "academic rivals to lovers". I am hesitant to pick it up because it's YA, and I've outgrown it a bit, but sometimes it's nice to return to a once beloved age range.

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  • abookowlscorner says:

    I just listened to this one on audiobook and adored it, too! I mean, there are a handful of things I found a tad unrealistic, but I honestly didn't care because I loved Sadie so, so much - the overachieving people-pleaser personality definitely made it a bit too easy to relate to her 😅 And her entire relationship with Julius completely sucked me in, too! 🥰 You'll definitely be getting more gushing on this one in my next wrap-up 🙂

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  • Yesha says:

    It's been long time I read YA story. This sounds great and and I love the theme and message in this. I might get this one day. Amazing review!

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