Saturday, December 28, 2019

Book Review: "Heartstopper Volume One" by Alice Oseman

Alice Oseman's Heartstopper is a beautifully poignant graphic novel about identity, friendship, crushes, and the flush of first love.

Most people in school seem to know that Charlie is gay. He’s taken some bullying for it, and it’s toyed with his self-esteem and what he thinks he deserves in terms of relationships, but for the most part, life isn’t too bad.

One day Charlie gets assigned to a new classroom and sits next to Nick Nelson, who is a grade ahead of him. Nick is tall, muscular, popular, a real “rugby lad.” But while Charlie expects Nick to ignore him, the two quickly strike up a real friendship.

As their friendship grows (Nick even gets Charlie to play rugby), and Nick even rescues Charlie from a potentially messy situation, Charlie can’t believe that he’s crushing on a straight guy. But why is it that Nick can’t stop thinking about Charlie, too?

Ah, this was amazing. It was so endearing, so wonderfully drawn, that I fell in love with this almost immediately. I read it quickly and was sad that it was over—I immediately ordered volume 2, which should arrive Sunday!! (Volume 3 is due out in February.)

The title of this book isn’t quite accurate. I’d call it Heartgrabber, because it took hold of my heart and won’t let go. I've really been loving graphic novels lately and feel like these stories really lend themselves to being told in this format. And as much as I love conjuring up images of what I read in my own head, sometimes it's great to see what the author or illustrator had in mind.

Once again, I’m so happy that books like this exist today, to let LGBTQIA+ kids—and adults—see that who they choose to love doesn’t doom them to loneliness. No one's road is perfectly easy, but it's nice to have books like this as companions along the journey.

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