In case you don’t already know, I have such a fondness for graphic novels. They are a beautiful combination of art and story, and it’s always great to find a brand new favourite. When Alice Oseman, one of my favourite UKYA authors, decided to start a Kickstarter campaign to transform her webcomic Heartstopper into a printed volume, there was an amazing response. Heartstopper had a goal of £9,000 and was funded within hours, with a whopping £58,925 raised to bring this webcomic to life. I backed the project alongside many others, and am so thrilled to have it on my bookshelf.
Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?
Heartstopper is honestly such a joy to have read. It’s brilliantly British (yes, I laughed at the ‘cheeky Nando’s’ joke), lighthearted and covers such a sweet blossoming romance. Charlie is openly gay and has managed to move past the bullying he received once he came out – although his anxiety over this still threatens him constantly. Nick starts off thinking he’s straight, but after meeting Charlie and spending time with him (developing quite the crush) he’s starting to wonder whether there’s more to his sexuality than he first thought.
It’s really lovely to read such an uplifting book about an LGBT+ relationship. Of course it has its ups and downs – Nick and Charlie are only just discovering that they like each other, so there are bound to be crossed wires. But it’s a relief to not have such a harrowing story focused on traumatic events. It’s also brilliant to have some bisexual representation in the form of Nick. There is a scene that resonates with me where he’s desperately googling things to try and understand what’s going on in his head and his heart, which I think many young LGBT+ people will understand entirely. Nick and Charlie’s relationship is wonderful to watch grow, and there shared shy moments and close scenes will have any readers heart fluttering.
The novel is illustrated with Alice’s unique style, and is peppered with quirky little illustrations in the speech bubbles to show what tone characters are responding in. As with all of her books, there are some really lovable characters and there are ones that you can’t help but dislike (Harry, I’m looking at you…). The whole book leaves you with such a warm feeling inside – despite ending on a sadder cliffhanger which you’ll need volume 2 to ease your mind – but it’s a book that I will be constantly revisiting and rereading, and is one that I’m thrilled to have on my shelf.
Final thought: Heartstopper? More like Heartlifter. 5/5