“I wonder – if nobody is listening to my voice, am I making any sound at all?”
― Alice Oseman, Radio Silence
Alice Oseman is one of my favourite authors. A writer and illustrator from Kent, England, Oseman was only nineteen when her first novel Solitaire was published. Now in her mid-twenties, Oseman has published three contemporary Young Adult novels titled I Was Born for This, Radio Silence and Solitaire, with a fourth, Loveless, being released later this year. She is also a talented comic artist, with her popular LGBTQA+ YA romance webcomic Heartstopper being published in three volumes by Hachette Children’s Books.
Only seventeen when she wrote Solitaire, Oseman’s first novel is a contemporary coming-of-age story about a pessimistic sixteen-year-old named Tori Spring. Solitaire is a realistic and startling depiction of modern teenage life. Tori knows what it is like to feel lonely in a digital age, to struggle with making close friendships and to live with mental illness. Never sugar-coating the reality of living with depression nor how long the road to recovery can be, Oseman’s books are a shoutout to everyone struggling with mental heath and those working to make meaningful changes in their lives.
A teenager writing about teenage themes, Oseman’s honesty, empathy and sarcastic humour made Solitaire an instant success. Her following novels Radio Silence and I Was Born for This cover vastly different topics, but they are equally compelling. Radio Silence is led by Frances Janvier and Aled Last, both talented high school graduates who are struggling against the cookie-cutter paths set out for them. A book about platonic love and the importance of having the freedom of choice, Radio Silence has a diverse cast of characters and a refreshing take on the value of close friendship. In I Was Born for This, Angel Rahimi cares for only one thing in the world, The Ark, a pop-rock trio of teenage boys. A novel investigating fame and the meaning of reality in a digital world, I Was Born for This looks at the nature of fandom and what it means for Jimmy Kaga-Ricci – one of The Ark band members – to be on the receiving end of such obsessive love while living with severe anxiety.
As an inspiration for young (and not-so-young) girls, Oseman’s novels share the message that is vital to talk about our mental health. They also show the importance of friendship and platonic love. For any reader who is sick of teen romance, Oseman’s books are a breath of fresh air. Romance is never a central theme in her books – just as it is often not central to life. She de-romanticises the idea that romantic love is the end goal of all forms of love, and instead focuses on different types of love – particularly that of platonic friendships, but also fandom love and love between siblings.
Oseman’s complex, diverse and engaging characters are always at the heart of her novels, and they often put lived LGBTQA+ millennial experiences at the forefront. For fiction-lovers and aspiring writers everywhere, Oseman is an inspiration and her books are definitely highly recommended.
Girl Museum Inc.