It’s taken me so long to write this review as it’s taken me months to put into words how much of a personal attack every single page of this book was. It’s everything I needed in a book and more, everything I’ve wanted since I was thirteen and hearing about asexuality for the first time. This is my second Alice Oseman book – I fell in love with Solitaire soon after it came out and was a prize for a Movellas writing competition – and I think she has the potential to become one of my favourite authors. I unfortunately haven’t had the opportunity to read any of her books in between yet, but it’s been wonderful to see how much her work has grown and improved since Solitaire.
So, my first love about this book: the setting. As a Brit, I’ve always been drawn to books set in this country and have always been filled with a slight disappointment that so many of them are focused on London. And this one isn’t! It’s set in a university in the north east. It was refreshing to read about a first-year university experience and the ‘first time being an adult’ feeling that reflected my own life last year. The descriptions felt so accurate and real and similar to my own experience, even though it’s set in Durham, not Cornwall.
My second love are the characters. Georgia is our aro/ace protagonist. She’s shy and introverted, going through an identity crisis, sets off to uni in search of love and ends up with so much more. Georgia’s friends are messy and lonely and make bad decisions and soliloquies in true drama student fashion. There’s self-doubt and self-loathing as they navigate their new adult experiences and figure out their identities. There’s also a huge focus on friendships rather than romantic relationships between characters and they’re all real and complex and fascinating to me.
My third (and most important) love is the #ownvoices aro/ace rep. I love how this book emphasises that there is no one specific way of being asexual or aromantic. It mostly focuses on Georgia’s experience, so it won’t be the perfect representation for every aro/ace, but it felt so similar to my own experience. I loved how it included other asexual characters and brushed on their experiences to expand on the spectrum. The book also went into so much detail about both romantic and platonic love. And there’s this quote that hit me hard: “Give your friendships the magic you would give a romance. Because they’re just as important. Actually, for us, they’re way more important.” In addition to the aro/ace rep, there is so much genuine diversity and representation in this book that never feels forced or like tokenism (in my opinion).
In summary, I don’t deserve Alice Oseman.
Rating: ★★★★★ (4.5 stars)