I normally don’t do negative reviews in this column, but wow, I need to tell you about this. “Dear Wendy” is obscure Gen-Z author Ann Zhao’s ’24 debut novel, and as the first ever reader of this book, I have … thoughts.
First-year Sophie Chi runs @DearWendyWellesley, an anonymous Instagram account giving love advice to the students of Wellesley College. But when a new account pops up giving bad, fake advice, Sophie is massively offended.
This account, @WendyWellesley69, started when first-year Jo Ephron decided to make fun of her roommate’s unfortunate love life. It was never meant to last more than a post or two. But with Dear Wendy now angry, Jo has to prove that they’re actually better.
And then Sophie and Jo meet in class one day, unknowing of each other’s identities, and start to bond over being aromantic and asexual. But one step in the wrong direction, and their friendship — and the Wendy accounts — may go off the rails.
This book gets so many things wrong about Wellesley. For starters, the idea that someone would make an Instagram account just to make fun of another Instagram account is preposterous.
Wait, what? What’s Wellesley Crunches?
Well, okay, maybe that could happen. But even more unrealistic is the idea that you could possibly meet your best friend in a 100-level WGST class. I don’t know if I’ve ever made friends with a classmate before. I actually tend to dislike people more when I end up in class with them. Group discussions bring out the worst in people.
The worst thing about this whole book, though, is that Sophie is very obviously a self-insert character. If I wanted to read the thoughts of an annoying Chinese American aromantic asexual eldest daughter of immigrants from the Chicago suburbs who enjoys going to Wellesley and has an annoying younger sister, I would rather just read Zhao’s diary. Jo, as a sarcastic white Harry Styles stan from Massachusetts who uses she/they pronouns and probably needs to go to therapy, is far more relatable and should’ve just been the only main character.
So basically, “Dear Wendy” is a bore, and nobody should ever read it.
“Dear Wendy” will be released by Feiwel & Friends in winter 2024 (which means early in the year, for those of you blissfully unaware of the publishing industry’s jargon). I received an early copy from the author herself, because I am the author, in exchange for a review that is unsurprisingly not honest at all. Please don’t take any of this seriously.