Perhaps you know Alice Oseman for her recently adapted comic series Heartstopper or her hit novel Radio Silence, but have you heard of Loveless?
Officially the “tenth” installment in the Oseman-verse (the universe in which Oseman’s stories take place), but perfectly comprehensible as a standalone, Loveless is a coming-of-age contemporary young adult novel in which narrator Georgia reflects on her first year of university and how she comes to understand herself as being asexual and aromantic.
If you’re new to the term asexual or aromantic, check out the book report I published last year about Angela Chen’s non-fiction work Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex. In short, asexual (often abbreviated to “ace”) is a sexual orientation in which an individual does not experience sexual attraction, whereas aromantic (often abbreviated to “aro”) is a romantic orientation in which an individual does not develop romantic feelings for others. If this feels confusing to you, I highly encourage you to read the aforementioned book Ace by Angela Chen.
Alongside her best friends Pip and Jason, Georgia attempts to find love and her first kiss. Georgia has always loved love, but people keep telling her that eventually, she’ll find “the right one.” When Georgia gets roomed with Rooney, who is in many ways very opposite from Georgia, the two of them begin a mission of hooking Georgia up with someone she’s attracted to. The only problem is… Georgia isn’t really attracted to anyone.
Heartfelt, honest, and intentional, Loveless depicts the confusion of understanding an oft-overlooked sexuality and romantic orientation, as well as the significance of friendship. As a first-person narrator, Georgia exudes a casual yet introspective rhetoric. Each chapter (some as short as two pages, others longer) have a unique chapter title, typically pulled from a line of text or a few words within the section.
Occasionally, the author includes texting dialogue, which always felt natural to me, as the excerpts accurately encapsulated the voice of the characters through the lens of social media. Although the Georgia and her friends make mistakes and sometimes misspeak, miscommunications did not feel forced or uncharacteristic, but rather products of being a flawed yet, at the end of the day, compassionate human being.
Throughout my reading experience, many quotes from this book resonated with me. Although Georgia is aromantic and I am biromantic, I connected deeply with Georgia regarding her asexuality, and it felt very special to read about an ace protagonist. Although every ace person is unique, I felt that Georgia’s representation was positive, especially as one of the few well-known works about an ace individual, meaning there is greater pressure to deliver on the execution of it. As a young adult, Georgia is reserved yet goofy, but not cold-hearted or childish. By the end of the novel, she cycles through the various stages of self-acceptance and realizes that while she will never experience romantic love, there are so many other beautiful and meaningful ways to love people.
Fans of Ophelia After All by Racquel Marie will easily enjoy this similar coming-of-age novel wherein the protagonist grapples with her sexuality with the companionship of a quirky group of friends and a delightful helping of Shakespeare references.
Check out my reading vlog of Loveless by Alice Oseman on YouTube:
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