I Miss You, I Hate This by Sara Saedi
A heartbreakingly accurate parallel to many of our children’s experiences during the pandemic lockdowns.
Best friends Parisa and Gabriela were anticipating a memorable senior year but a worldwide pandemic disproportionately fatal to teenagers was not what they had in mind. They had been looking forward to football games, after-school clubs and activities, part-time jobs, and volunteer work.
Parisa was agonizing over her college application essay and coping with increasingly debilitating anxiety. Gabs was concerned with convincing her two moms that she might not want to attend college right after high school. She wanted to pursue an art career and travel to and live in Mexico City, walking in the footsteps of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. What they got was a complete lockdown of schools and businesses, face masks, confinement to their homes, and even a citywide curfew: all efforts to stem the spread of the deadly Adema virus.
Thinking the lockdown would only last the initial two weeks, the girls start their stays at home with only their family members as company pretty well. They message, FaceTime, phone, and continue to go to school virtually via Zoom. But when the need to continue the lockdown stretches into months, the fear and isolation begin to take a toll on everyone’s mental health and personal relationships, even these two BFFs.
I Miss You, I Hate This, the title of this contemporary young adult novel by Sara Saedi, is also the recurring sign-off between the two main characters as they message throughout the length of the pandemic. The two girls are delightful together as the story opens; their text exchanges are often laugh-out-loud funny. However, as the lockdown and isolation wear on, their friendship begins to suffer.
The characters in the book present a wide variety of cultures, lifestyles, and family configurations, and most readers will find something similar to their situation somewhere in the story. The author puts names and faces to the characters experiencing the many different kinds of collateral effects the pandemic brought to the table, making them real. For example, I could feel the worry of Gabriela’s family, who could not make a living and pay their apartment rent when their catering business could no longer operate.
I enjoyed the secondary storyline about Gabriela’s extended family. What a heartbreaker for her moms to be estranged from their families all those years because of who they loved.
Parisa’s anxiety disorder is really brought home and made real. As one of the book’s points of view, her feelings, thoughts, and fears are laid bare, and readers facing similar struggles will easily relate. The same can be said for her crush on her older sister’s boyfriend and how she handles her feelings and actions.
It was hard not to cry during certain parts of this tough yet ultimately hopeful story. The feelings and fears in the book accurately mirror what many of our students and children have been going through during the Covid pandemic and subsequent lockdowns and remote schooling. Everyone was hurting, and many are still struggling today.
I recommend I MISS YOU, I HATE THIS to readers of contemporary young adult fiction, especially those interested in a story that parallels the experiences of many current and recently graduated high school students.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author or publisher through NetGalley and TBR and Beyond Book Tours.