Now that the Riveted Summer of Love is in full swing, I think it’s safe to announce that I myself am in love…..with Kathryn Ormsbee’s Tash Hearts Tolstoy, my new favorite book! Tash Hearts Tolstoy was one of my most anticipated books of the season. I mean, the description sounded so fun:
After a shout-out from one of the Internet’s superstar vloggers, Natasha “Tash” Zelenka suddenly finds herself and her obscure, amateur web series, Unhappy Families, thrust in the limelight: She’s gone viral.
Her show is a modern adaption of Anna Karenina—written by Tash’s literary love Count Lev Nikolayevich “Leo” Tolstoy. Tash is a fan of the 40,000 new subscribers, their gushing tweets, and flashy Tumblr gifs. Not so much the pressure to deliver the best web series ever.
And when Unhappy Families is nominated for a Golden Tuba award, Tash’s cyber-flirtation with a fellow award nominee suddenly has the potential to become something IRL—if she can figure out how to tell said crush that she’s romantic asexual.
Tash wants to enjoy her newfound fame, but will she lose her friends in her rise to the top? What would Tolstoy do?
And let me tell you, this book did not disappoint. It’s exactly the type of breezy read that’s perfect for these early summer days, when you just want to fall into a book and fall in love. And trust me, you’ll fall in love — with Tash, her bestie Jack, Jack’s brother Peter, and, of course, Mr. Tolstoy himself. I am so gone on this book that I’ve compiled a list of reasons why you should read it. Take a look at my reasons and then do yourself a favor and read the extended excerpt we’re featuring until June 19! Then if you’re as smitten as I am, let me know in the comments!
1. It’s super cute
I don’t know how else to express how immediately enamored I was by this book besides just gushing about how sweet it is. It’s one of those books that lacks cynicism or bitterness — it’s just hopeful and funny. I was so sucked in by how much fun it was to read that I accidentally read it all in a day. It’s the perfect start to your summer, when you’re eager to throw out your textbooks and tune out the real world.
2. It has realistic characters
Tash identifies as a romantic asexual, but all of her friends are diverse and interesting — her crowd includes several people of different sexualities, so it misses the “one non-straight friend” trope pretty nicely. Book characters can be unfortunately homogenous, so it was refreshing to a see a more realistic group makeup. Plus, the characters themselves are dynamic and real — they all felt like people I’ve met before.
3. It’s informative about asexuality
The book does a lot of work explaining what asexuality is and how Tash came to identify as asexual. It’s not dismissive of anyone’s personal feelings towards sex, and it handles the awkwardness of coming out to friends who might not have any idea what asexuality is or what it means to be asexual. Plus, because the book is in Tash’s voice, it doesn’t read like a textbook or like an academic text — it feels like a real person explaining it to you. I didn’t know a whole lot about asexuality coming into the book, but by the end I felt like I had a good grasp on it. Always nice to learn something, right?
4. It’s relatable
I may have never had a viral YouTube series like Tash and her friends, but I still found everything they were going through to be totally true and realistic. Tash struggles with articulating herself and her desires to other people; deals with complicated feelings for a childhood friend; and fights with her sister, who’s preparing to depart for college. It’s all heightened by the sudden internet popularity, but it’s still the same things many of us go through in our day-to-day lives.
5. It has an actually interesting love triangle
I won’t lie, I can get pretty annoyed with love triangles. While liking two people at the same time is something we’ve all done once or twice, they can get pretty silly and overblown in books. But Tash’s choice between childhood friend Peter (who’s feelings she’s largely oblivious to) and dashing and famous YouTube vlogger Thom (who she’s never met in real life) feels authentic and fresh.
6. Tash is charming and funny
Every great book has a great protagonist, and Tash is a fantastic narrator. She’s funny and endearing, and she immediately won me over. Her passion for what she does is so awesome, and it makes you feel passionate about it too. She’s so easy to root for!