Every year I set aside a bunch of LGBTQ+ books and authors to put on my Pride TBR. Inevitably, I never actually read them and I end up feeling guilty about it. So I decided that 2022 was going to be the year I did Pride right and finish my unread books. I’m pleased to announce that I’ve already finished 2 Pride books. Although, neither of them was on my TBR. Instead, I bought the first 2 volumes in this series. It’s everywhere right now that I had to do it.
I always worry about books that are almost universally beloved. It’s normally a red flag and I can’t say that a YA romance graphic novel is the kind of book I’m normally itching to read. I’ve also not read any of Alice Oseman’s other books so I don’t have any real context for the characters. Not that you need to have read Solitaire to appreciate this but I guess you might feel more emotionally connected to them maybe?
Regardless, I read the first book on Sunday night and went looking for a copy of the second on my lunch break on Monday. Not only were they super quick reads but these books are so sweet. Most importantly, they’re sweet but not saccharine. Yes, it’s not exactly a mind-blowing story but that’s not a problem. This is just a warm hug of a book that could probably melt even the iciest of hearts.
It also handles its subject very carefully. Heartstopper offers a helpful depiction of somebody being confused about their sexuality. Nick is something of a jock at school. He plays rugby and likes girls. Or at least he thought he did. The moment he and Charlie are put next to each other things start to become less clear. Charlie is out and helps Nick deal with coming out. It’s all so sweet and positive.
Not too positive, of course. There are still plenty of instances where we see the toxic homophobia that still exists in society. Charlie has had to put up with all sorts of bullying since he was outed. The book doesn’t shy away from the truth but it focuses on the good stuff. When Nick feels uncomfortable around his friends he walks away from them. It’s the kind of book that a lot of confused young people could benefit from reading.
Personally, I wish there had been a bit more to the book. The characters don’t seem very developed and it relies very heavily on cuteness to engage people. Don’t get me wrong, I like the artwork but there are pages where we just see legs being adjusted. That space could have been used for extra depth. Part of me loves how short it is but I also think it’s too short. We don’t get to see their friendship blossom. They just go from strangers to being in love in a few squares. I also have a bit of an issue of characters that seem unrealistically good. Like these guys have no flaws. I need more conflict.
But I think that’s a genre thing and, as I’ve already said, I’m not much of a fan. The first volumes were sweet and inoffensive. They’ll melt plenty of hearts and help so many confused readers. I love that these exist and will definitely read the rest. I’m not sure I get all the hype but they deserve some of it I guess.