Title: Heartstopper Volume 1
Author: Alice Oseman
Genre: LGBTQIA, Comic, Young Adult Ages 15-17.
Review by: Orla (Kildare Town Library)
The name Heartstopper suits this comic series very well. It is done so exquisitely you sometimes think your heart will stop or skip a beat.
The tender story is achingly hard to read at times. It tugs at your heartstrings as the protagonist, Charlie, comes to terms with the teens at school knowing he is gay. He has no choice after he was outed last year, as malicious gossip spread like wildfire around his school. Now everyone knows he is gay, as though he has it stamped on his forehead. He feels exposed and vulnerable and has been prone to being bullied. Charlie has been relentlessly mocked and ridiculed. It has knocked his confidence. He has one loyal friend Tao, but others have dropped him like a hot potato. Others are petrified of how they will be perceived if they come out.
Another student, Ben, leads a double life. He is a master of disguise. He flaunts his girlfriend and masculinity in public yet meets Charlie in secret. Ben steals kisses from Charlie. Charlie knows he is being used and tries to break it off. He boldly confronts Ben. Charlie knows the only reason Ben wants to be with him is because he doesn’t know anyone else who is LGBT. Charlie is fed up being kept in the dark. He is not ashamed of who he is. Ben doesn’t take the news well and lashes out. Ben becomes aggressive. Before he gets punched, Nick steps in and saves Charlie.
No wonder Charlie finds it hard to trust others. When Nick makes an effort to get to know him, he is wary and questions his motives. Is he walking into a trap? Why would someone go out of their way to be friendly and cordial with him? His insecurities and anxiety begin to surface. He wonders is he only nice to him because he feels sorry for him? However, Charlie takes a chance and they spend more time together. Charlie soon develops a crush on Nick but knows it will probably go unreciprocated because he appears to be straight.
Nick watches Charlie in PE and thinks he would be a great asset to the rugby team. He can outrun most people and puts his idea to his rugby team mates. His suggestion is met with ignorance. Some scoff that gay people are no good at sport as though gay people should be stereotyped and lumped into the one box. Nick asks his team mates to give Charlie a chance.
Charlie says sorry a lot. Nick tells him he doesn’t have to apologise for who he is. That he should live his life the way he wants to.
Being part of the LGBTQIA+ community can be tough, especially if you are in secondary school. It can be a trying time if a student is outed by others before they have a chance to reveal their true identity. This book shows that you have a right to be the person you want to be. Be happy in your own skin and be true to who you are. Watch out for this comic series brought to life in a TV series coming soon to Netflix.