Summary: If there’s one man Natasha “Tash” Zelenka loves in this world, it’s Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, author of her favorite book, Anna Karenina. When Tash and her best friend Jack’s web series, Unhappy Families, which is a modern adaptation of Anna Karenina, gets a shoutout from a famous vlogger, they go viral. With a Golden Tuba nomination, Tash has the opportunity to meet Thom Causer, a fellow vlogger with some flirty vibes, and start something in-real-life, but how can she explain to him that she’s romantic asexual?
My Rating: 4.75/5 Stars
I flew through Tash Hearts Tolstoy in less than two days and I’m still sad that it’s over; for me, this novel more than made the hype. One of the many reasons why that Tash Hearts Tolstoy has been floating around the book blogging world since its release in June 2017 is its diversity regarding sexual orientation. While Tash Hearts Tolstoy includes both heterosexuality and homosexuality, it stands out for having an asexual main character. Before reading the novel, I had never read a book with an asexual character, let alone an ace main character. In my opinion, Kathryn Ormsbee did a fantastic job of explaining what it meant for Tash to be asexual and how Tash continues to struggle explaining to the people in her life what it means to be romantic asexual.
The big cast of characters in Tash Hearts Tolstoy was both a like and dislike for me. I loved almost all of the characters set in the story, but I often had trouble keeping track of all of the people involved in Unhappy Families and how Tash came about meeting them (for example, I didn’t really remember that she had met Jay and Serena at arts school). However, I was super thankful for the Unhappy Families cast and crew list at the beginning of the novel to help keep track. Speaking of Unhappy Families, I absolutely loved how this web series was a main component of the novel. Being a blogger and making videos in school myself, I loved seeing the filming process, and I loved even more how a piece of literature inspired the show!
One of my favorite aspects of Tash Hearts Tolstoy was Tash’s relationships with Jack, Paul, and her family. Jack reminded me a lot of Sam Puckett from iCarly (Teen Nick is one of my favorite TV channels after all), and Paul was my favorite character in the book (I figured by the hundred page mark, especially during the Ping-Pong table scene, that his relationship with Tash was definitely something more). Like Paul and Jack, I wasn’t sold on Thom either and knew Tash’s meeting him wouldn’t go exactly smooth. When it came to the Zelenka family, I was in love! We also got to see diversity in Tash’s family life, with her dad’s family being from the Czech Republic and her mom missing life in New Zealand with her family. There was bit more diversity in the Zelenka fam as well: Tash and her mom are Buddhists (unrelated to their religion, but they’re also both vegetarians!), and while being Buddhist, Tash and her sister, Klaudie, still attend church with their dad. It made me sad when Klaudie decides to leave Unhappy Families in the beginning of the novel, but I didn’t really buy the excuse that Klaudie was expected to go a bit wild the summer before her freshmen year of college (yes, this opinion is coming from the girl who spends as much time as she can near her bookshelves before she goes back to school). However, I was happy that Klaudie and Tash resolve their issues before she goes to school and the family can return to somewhat normalness. I’m glad Klaudie’s absence didn’t come from a jealously over Tash’s relationship Paul and Jack (so happy to have a read with little predictability!). Overall, the Zelenkas had a very close family dynamic that I love seeing in young-adult novels, and I could have seen myself reacting the same way Klaudie and Tash did to their parents’ news.
Tash Hearts Tolstoy is filled with friendship, family life, diversity, and web series shenanigans that will more than satisfy any YA book lover’s heart, especially those who are looking for the book about fandoms and the Internet.
Have you read or are planning to read Tash Hearts Tolstoy? Share your thoughts and feels in the comments!