By Alice Oseman
Series: None (Stand alone)
Source: Book Depository
Published: 25th February 2016 by Harper Collins
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT+
What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?
Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.
But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.
Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…
She has to confess why Carys disappeared…
Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets.
It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness.
Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.
Solitaire, Alice Oseman’s previous book, was one of my favourite books of 2014, so I’ve been anticipating this ever since I read that (which was in the summer that year!). I went in with super high expectations, not only because I’ve been full on stalking this book, but the author has promised literally everything I want in a book on Tumblr. Thankfully, I absolutely adored it! It was everything I hoped for and more, and it’s probably one of the best books I’ve read in 2016 so far.
At the start, this book seems super happy, but it takes some really dark turns. It has some pretty grim messages, but I thought they were handled really well. I liked how the book took a different spin on university - I’m still in high school, but I think it showed a more realistic portrayal of life. There were some really important messages about mental health and living on your own, which makes me want to recommend it to everyone even more!
One thing this book does really well is mother/daughter relationships. Francis (the main character) has a really positive relationship with her Mum - they’re both really supportive of each other, which was refreshing to read about. I find that often in YA, parents are either dead or non-existent, so I was glad to see something more realistic!
Another character in the book has a very poignant relationship with his mother, but this one wasn’t as positive. The contrast was written spectacularly, so it made the abuse even more shocking. These particular scenes were harrowing to read, but I think they were so important (as well as being crucial to the plot). They were handled with care which I really respect, because abusive parents can be a sensitive issue.
My favourite thing was all the diversity. This book pretty much had everything: LGBT+ characters, racial and ethnic diversity, and even an agender character! I know the author is a huge advocate for diverse books, and this book really does the movement proud. It’s one I’ll be recommending for the sole basis of how well written the diversity is!
Overall, I would highly recommend this to everyone. It ended so well (everything was rounded off, and it was super satisfying) too. Basically, this book had everything I look for in a book! Reading it made me feel so happy, and it’s become one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. It will definitely be one I’ll re-read soon!