'Loveless' is the fourth novel by Alice Oseman, a contemporary YA author that everyone seems to know, but me. In my defense, I don't read a lot of contemporary. I don't dislike it, I just don't run across a lot of blurbs for contemporary pieces that sound interesting to me and more often than not, I rarely even get past the covers which I tend to find bland artistically.
This book though was a bit of an exception. When it first popped up on a friend's Instagram feed, I found the cover to be compelling enough to read more. There's something about the design, even before paired with its title.. that is both hopeful and hopeless.. simultaneously and there's little I love better than a clever use of contradictions.
Still, I likely would have added it to my ever-growing TBR list and maybe gotten to it in a year or so unless my interest in it became eclipsed by other things until I forgot about it. Luckily for me, that same friend (bookworm_panda) decided to host her first group read using this book for Ace Week and I decided it was a perfect time to participate in something else I'd never done before.
The author, known widely for her series 'Heartstopper,' which I'm now wondering if I should be adding to my list as well.. tells the story of a young woman named Georgia at the pivotal moment between the end of high school and the beginning of university. She's never been in love, never kissed anyone, and never even had a crush, but she loves fanfic romance and she's beginning to wonder if she's missing out on finding hers.
Along with the rest of her bestie triad, Pip and Jason, they're about to venture into uni life experiences in a city far from their comfort zone of home. While at first it seems unfortunate that they don't get roomed together, Georgia discovers her new roommate is not only outgoing, she's kind of a social tour de force.. which is perfect since she sees herself as the shy, awkward type. Personally, I found her endearing and witty and she's completely someone I'd have hung out with in and out of school.
As she attempts to find her match, a chaotic chain of events begins to impact those around her, especially her closest friends and she starts to wonder why it seems so easy for other people, but not for her. Along her journey, she starts to learn about the Aro/Ace Spectrum and becomes even more uncertain about her feelings than when she began.
Admittedly, I was especially interested in this book because of the subject matter and how it may or may not intersect with those in my personal life.
I've always been a bit of a self-educator, so the terms themselves and the meanings are not new to me. The vastness of the spectrum.. however, was still an eye-opener. There is far more gray area than I expected, which of course makes sense. It's a complex spectrum within an already complex framework of the human design.
I feel like in addition to getting to read a really great story though, I learned a lot more experiencing Georgia's journey in story form.. than I ever had just reading analysis, definitions, and breakdowns in more clinical presentations. Plus, I was so invested in the happiness of every one of the characters I got to know in this novel. Jason, Pip, and the new uni friends are all the loveliest, warmest people.. deep down. I was a little mad about how frequently Oseman left me crying happy tears as I read, largely because I have always prided myself on not being very emotional.. and like some of those characters I love here, I'm a bit overly proud about not crying in front of others.. but that's my only real complaint, so.. probably still a win for the author. Haha.
Interestingly enough, while the book answered a lot of questions I didn't know I had, it also left me asking a lot of new ones about myself and those around me. And any story that can inspire that much introspection is a gift. I love the reboot Oseman gives the concept of love, romance, and relationships. As a person living what some might consider an unorthodox lifestyle myself, I saw much in their circumstances that translates into my world seamlessly and felt a bit more secure in my decision to build my ideal home setting.
For that, and so much more.. I'm deeply grateful for the experience of 'Loveless' and look forward to exploring more of the author's works.