Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love.
I’ll make this short and sweet, a bit like volume 1 of Alice Oseman’s bestselling LGBTQ+ graphic novel. Everyone’s talking about Heartstopper. Originally a webcomic on Tumblr and Tapas, Heartstopper has grown an enormous online fanbase and has recently been adapted into a series on Netflix starring Olivia Coleman. It has already been commissioned for another two seasons. There are currently four volumes available along with a series of six novels that feature some of the same characters and operate within the same universe/timeline. As I’m aware, the books deal with more mature themes and a list of content warnings is available on Osemans’s official website.
Charlie and Nick are at the same school, but they’ve never met … until one day when they’re made to sit together. They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance.
Reading an LGBTQ+ story aimed at young adults was genuinely a really moving experience. The fact Heartstopper is currently so accessible (I recently found it in my local Tesco in the children’s book aisle) is groundbreaking. I’ve read a few bizarre reviews online so let me just confirm – this is a graphic novel. There isn’t a huge amount of dialogue so don’t expect this book to take you more than a couple of hours to read. Obviously, as this is YA, I’m older than Heartstopper’s average reader (32-years-old to be precise) and it took me just under 45 minutes to read.
The pages aren’t full of paragraphs of content but that’s the whole point. Oseman can convey an incredible amount of emotion with just a few words in an accessible and entertaining way. The conversations between Nick and Charlie came across as really genuine, sweet and intimate, honestly, I was smiling the whole way through. The illustrations are adorable and really captured that awkward teenage angst and inner turmoil. I also loved all the little extras at the end like the stat cards and playlist.
This coming-of-age graphic novel is perfect for young adults curious about love and relationships no matter their sexuality but it is also extra poignant and relevant for those exploring same-sex relationships. It is an entertaining and light-hearted read that I highly recommend. It could also provide a safe space for your child as well as encourage open discussions about love, bullying and acceptance. Representation is incredibly important and I wish there was something like this available when I was young.
Heartstopper Volume 1 by Alice Oseman is available here. (Affiliate link)3