This is a lovely little book, but, you guys. READ THE STORY. This is definitely a story of one-sided love, not "just" friendship. That said, it's terrific.
Warning: Do not gift this book! OMG. Based on title + cute artwork alone, I almost sent this to a platonic friend without reading it first. NOPE. This story is about a one-sided love. If you gave this to a friend, it would be equivalent to confessing your unvoiced romantic feelings for them. Like in a weird, shift-y, "no I just think you're an awesome person" but then YOU SECRETLY CRY WHEN YOU SEE HIM AND HIS JELLYFISH GIRLFRIEND TOGETHER. Trust: gifting this book would be weird. Do not do.
If you haven't seen I Think I Am In Friend-Love With You, I suggest you go to a book store and find it. Read it in its tangible form.
But if you're too lazy, ITIAMF-LWY was originally published as a comic for Sadie Magazine. Please, please read it in its entirety before letting me ruin it for you by chopping it up and examining the pieces. I'll wait.
Alright now look at what we just read:
ARM-TOUCHING ON THE LOW IS NOT A JUST-FRIENDS THING.
"Believe it or not, I wouldn't be sad if you are already in a romantic relationship."
The tell-tale "already". Love that part, smart writing.
And in case you didn't catch the subtlety with "already" above, the author draws her crying when she sees him and his jellyfish girlfriend exchange fave books.
THIS IS NOT A JUST-FRIENDS STORY.
Imagine giving this to one of your *truly platonic* friends.
Like actually choose one of your close friends, and read through the story again imagining that you're saying this to them.
AWKWARD, RIGHT. THERE IS NO ROOM FOR INTERPRETATION.
Why I'm so adamant about this point is two-fold:
1. Everyone misinterprets this story. It's baffling.
The comic, which first hit the Internet in 2012, looks at a modern-day friendship — friend crushes — and expresses all the delightful, little things we hope our best (and even not-so-best) pals will do for us.
Yumi Sakugawa perfectly captured how sometimes… you really, honestly, just want to be friends.
Ohhhhhh the irony.
2. It's a better story with the unreliable narrator.
Don't get me wrong — this is genius writing and genius storytelling. Yumi Sakugawa is perfectly describing a lie we all know so well.
To be clear, there is such a thing as friend-love, and I think the first half of the comic describes that well. "I just so desperately want for you to think / that I am this super-awesome person / because I think YOU are a super awesome person."
But when you finish the story, you see she's really getting at something deeper. There's this special youthful feeling, one that I associate with late high school or college. It's an intense desire for emotional intimacy when you're not yet comfortable with romantic intimacy. I can remember hearing from so many different girls at some point (myself included) at that late teenager/early college age saying something along the lines of "I don't even really like him or anything; I just think he's a cool person and we would be good friends." "I wouldn't even care if he has a girlfriend already." You always knew what that meant, though.
This is a book that captures that conversation, that feeling that's universally recognizable (at least among girls, I think) but is also something I've never seen talked about or recorded in any kind of media. That's an incredible thing to do, to find a universally recognizable feeling that no one's really talking about. Mix in a pitch-perfect portrayal of how today's technology fits into this, and you've got a beautiful little time capsule that snapshots a very particular feeling and era. I'm glad this book exists.
BUT C'MON IT IS NOT ABOUT MODERN-DAY FRIENDSHIP YOU GUYSSSSSS