title: soft on soft
author: mina waheed
genre: contemporary, romance
content warnings: anxiety attack, mention of death, mentions of racism and fatphobia, sex
my rating: recommended
soft on soft is the debut novel by nonbinary author mina waheed, which was known as #fatgirlsinlove on twitter before publication. it follows the friendship and budding romance between make up artist june, and model selena. it deals with going through life with anxiety and being plus size, the potential pressure that’s put on public relationships, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone in favour of pursuing something you want, and so much more. most of all, tho, it’s sweet and hopeful and always put me in a good mood. the title soft on soft can set certain expectations on a book, and let me tell you – this one delivered.
there is so much representation in this book. june is fat, middle eastern (her parents are persian and arab), pansexual, and has anxiety. selena is fat, too, and she is black and demisexual. we also meet other characters of a huge variety of ethnicities, gender identities, and sexualities. i especially adored june’s best friend, shelby, who is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns.
soft on soft does so many small things that i rarely see in books, or any other medium for that matter, but that are so important. just something as simple as never gendering a character by referring to them as she or he before we find out what their pronouns are. or how june (who most of the story is told through) is always aware of her size, because of how the world perceives her and that everything is made with only straight sized people in mind, but she doesn’t let that make her hate herself or her body. this is what happens when people get to write their own marginalisations, instead of only letting white, thin, allocishet people writing everything. i can’t wait for the day something like soft on soft gets traditionally published by a big publisher and i can buy it in any book shop.
another aspect i loved was how intimacy and sex was handled. june has never slept with anyone, and selena is demisexual. neither of them is in any hurry to sleep with each other. instead, they do a lot of kissing and cuddling, and it makes some really hot scenes. mina waheed also makes a point of letting us, the readers, know that june and selena doesn’t view this as a placeholder or a stepping stone for sex. it is its own special thing, and virginity is an unimportant social construct. having said that, if you’re in the mood for some smut you should read the extra chapter at the end, titled extra soft. clears throat wow.
this is a perfect book to read if you’re in the mood for something happy and nice and calming. i’d definitely recommend you pick it up if you need something to brighten your day. it’s all just two people falling deeply in love and being happy together, with only a little bit angst. and if you read and enjoy it, mina waheed’s next book, graham’s delicacies: a collection of love stories, comes out in march. you know what to do.