For Angel Rahimi, life is only about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are currently taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything – her friendships, her dreams, her place in the world.
Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark too. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band is all he’s ever dreamed of doing. It’s just a shame that recently everything in his life seems to have turned into a bit of a nightmare.
Because that’s the problem with dreaming – eventually, inevitably, real life arrives with a wake-up call. And when Angel and Jimmy are unexpectedly thrust together, they will discover just how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.
How do I mail one million hugs and kisses directly to Alice Oseman?
I feel like this book just dragged me into whatever living equivalent of heaven there is. Alice Oseman’s books have the type of energy that will always add value to the space and lives of those who read them. They get under your skin and before you realize it, they seep into your veins and make your heart expand to make more room for them. Like, if you could chop open my heart right now, you would see that it was actually hundreds of bouquets of roses on each side with glitter spelling all the characters’ names all over!!
The story follows Angel Rahimi, a hijabi Muslim teen whose life revolves around The Ark, an internationally famous boyband. She leaves for London to attend their concert with an internet friend she’s known for years but has never met in real life. And Jimmy Kaga-Ricci, a biracial gay trans musician and a member of The Ark. This book is what happens when their paths unexpectedly collide.
I Was Born For This is many things. It’s the unbridled happiness of being young, it’s the dizziness that comes from belonging to something extraordinary, it’s wistful and often complicated but chaotically beautiful feelings, and Alice Oseman found a way, as always, to powerfully capture such a kaleidoscope of emotions. I Was Born for This was also so relatable, it almost reads like a spontaneous heart to heart. And it’s really what makes her books stand out: they’re so devoid of any romanticization of reality. That and the fact that they’re always so casually diverse and as a Muslim teen, I can’t convey how important it is to have a book about a Muslim teen facing normal teenage problems (questioning her sexuality, finding her identity, friendships/family problems, etc).
I absolutely loved all the characters. Like, I swear every single character Alice writes just makes you go (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ *:ﾟ. They make you feel so warm inside and willing to cut off anybody for simply having the wrong energy towards they. But seriously, they need to stop being so cute because they’re fictional and I can’ physically hug them and hope that some of their light transfers onto me!!
This story delves into a lot of important discussions about identity and self discovery and mental illness and I want to delve into each topic so buckle up!
First of all, I love how this book was the biggest advocate of passion, of investing your time in the things that produce the purest secret happiness. Even if the only thing that makes you happy is a boyband that none of your friends understand your passion for. Live for that band. Get excited about it. Listen to their music, cry to it, dance with it, scream its lyrics. Buy their merch, buy all their records. Maybe go to their concert, lose yourself in the hot, excited crowd and the feeling of belonging. Allow that small happiness, however transcient it is, to become your passion.
I think we ruin so many things by desensitizing ourselves, by romanticizing the feeling of being disconnected and aloof. This book shows you how the world is so rich and how endless are the opportunities to develop various interests in life as you see it: the people, literature, music, etc. Call it overzealous, call it obsessed or whatever you want, but be obsessed about something, and spare no thought to what that may look like from the outside. That is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s what saves most of us from the world. It’s what keeps most of us alive. And as far as I am concerned, it’s always better to have too much heart than too little.
I Was Born for This also highlights the impact of fandoms on many people. How they allow you to share your passion and fall all in love with other people’s passion and the way they light up when they talk about the thing they love and the way they fill with light. How you can blabber on the keyboard like a stream of consciousness, and express yourself to your friends on the internet in a way that may be very hard for you to do in real life. And how face to face communications are no more real than online interactions. And that is something a lot of us can relate to. Online communication has genuinely allowed me, a socially anxious person, to develop meaningful and lasting relationships with so many people and I am so incredibly grateful for that.
Another topic this book covered was mental health. I really appreciate how this book showcased just how much anxiety can irrationally prevent you from doing things, no matter how simple and easy they seem, how terrified it makes you of things for reasons that might not even make sense to you, how much it can bring you down paths of low self esteem and harmlful thinking and how much it can hinder your relationships and completely stunt your life.
This book was a huge shoutout to everyone struggling with mental health and trying very hard to work towards recovery and make meaningful changes that no one recognizes because you never let anyone see your darkest moments. Your progress is valuable and you should be proud of every little step you’re making in the right direction. Just by choosing to work towards bettering yourself, you have already come so far and you know what? that’s pretty fucking extraordinary.
The most special message, however, was this: Commit to believing in yourself completely; learn how to love and practice your own worthiness of it. You’re allowed to place yourself above that last number on your priority list, to make yourself a priority too once in a while. It’s not selfish. It’s necessary. It’s perhaps the most radical thing you will do in your lifetime. It’s the one thing that can’t be dictated by outside influences but stems from your own contentment as a person. But mostly, you alone are in control of the quality of your life. Maybe you can’t control everything that happens to you, but you can control how you grow from it. Let life surprise you, let your enthusiasm and curiosity guide you into discovering that you are so much more than you thought you were. Give yourself something to look forward to that isn’t another person, but a better and happier version of you.