Although wrestling with the demons of unrequited love is devastating, a crush can also boost a wounded ego, save a marriage and make one feel alive. It has the power to transform a shy backward kid into a bold adult. It’s not only an education for a person naïve in the world, it’s the joy of a fantasy you may or may not choose to pursue. – Andrea N. Richesin
I am a seasoned veteran of the unrequited crush. On the first day of 8th grade, my teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. My answer: Mrs. Christian Slater. In high school, my best friend Maura and I gathered up all our shared crushes and created The List. Today, The List reads like a roll call of the biggest C-list celebrities of the late 1990s: The Backstreet Boys, Craig Kilborn, Duncan Sheik, and “the guy from Savage Garden.”
These embarrassing but illuminating memories surfaced while I read Andrea N. Richesin’s new anthology, Crush. I loved reading this collection – 26 essays from popular authors about their own personal crush experiences. Many of the essays are funny, some are sad, a few are a touch creepy, but all of them are insightful and most are relatable. We read about crushes that ended well (including marriage), others that end badly, and some that just…ended.
Richesin includes an impressive variety of essays, and some very popular writers have contributed their personal stories. David Levithan, Lauren Oliver and Jacquelyn Mitchard are on the list, and I was glad to find some new authors that I’d not read before. All of the authors, though, valued their crushes as important life lessons.
Of the many humorous essays in Crush, my favorite was Heather Swain’s “Uncle Greg, a Giant Chicken and the Murderous Pottery Wheel.” Swain boldly contacts a crush from college to get his perspective on their single ill-fated date. Their different recollections of their youthful encounters were both hilarious and painful.
Some of my other favorite stories from Crush:
- “How Duran Duran Saved My Life” by Katherine Center, in which Simon LeBon confesses his love for the author’s 12-year-old self;
- “To Sir Anthony, With Love” by Daria Snadowsky, one of the rare success stories in celebrity crushing; and
- “Adam” by Amy Greene – so sweet, though I won’t ruin it and tell you why.
This isn’t a book that has to be read in one sitting. I savored the book for two weeks, picking it up and reading one or two essays at a time. Though this is the first time I’ve read anything from Richesin, she has edited three other anthologies, including Because I Love Her: 34 Women Writers Reflect on the Mother-Daughter Bond. After liking Crush so very much, I’ll happily read those books and anything else she publishes.
My review: 5 stars out of 5
*Disclosure: I received a copy of Crush from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for reading or reviewing this book.