Last Thursday we met up for our monthly LGBTQ+ Book Club gathering! In July, we read Heartstopper: Volume One by Alice Oseman and had such a great response we decided to carry on with Volume Two. She created these graphic novels based off her webcomics which are available for free online. We will be mainly focusing on thoughts on Volume Two but some Volume One comments will be in this post too – it can be hard to separate for those who read it online and more people could attend Book Club this month so it was really nice to talk about both! People who made it and people who couldn’t but wanted to share their thoughts joined the conversation on our Google form too.
This month’s Book Club was one of mine and Sarah’s favourites so far. We had some good conversations regarding the art style, representation and various people’s opinions. There were also a few newcomers who were all genuinely lovely (thank you for coming!) and others who have been to quite a lot of our meet ups (also thanks!). We are so, so grateful and happy people come to this and enjoy coming and it’s so exciting to have people joining in person when they can, people who turn up to pretty much every meet up and people who have just found us/have been able to make it!
Heartstopper: Volume Two follows Nick and Charlie as they figure out what their relationship is and how they feel about each other. It’s very soft, adorable and full of love! We were introduced to more characters in this one and ones we met in Volume One were fleshed out more.
The lowest rating this received was a 3 star but the group mainly rated it 5 stars. Many people loved how positive the queer representation was, both of the main characters and side characters too. A couple of people gave it 3 because it was a bit too sickly sweet for them though others gave it 5 for the same reason! Overall it was well received and some people new to Alice Oseman have gone on to read more of her books!
LGBTQ+/Queer themes and representation in Heartstopper: Volume One
Most of the group agreed that though not much happens in the story, the fact that it is a positive representation of a same sex relationship whilst exploring sexualities is wonderful. It’s sadly uncommon to find stories which are happy and, with queer YA in particular, don’t just show the difficulties of coming to terms with your sexuality and coming out. Of course, these are important things to cover in fiction too but it’s also nice to see different sides of it – falling in love for the first time, feeling happy about who you are and having loving, fun, wonderful family and friends. Here’s some direct quotes from people who joined in this month!
“SO ADORABLE. I love the slow-burn romance. I usually dislike romance in books and I often rate a book higher if it doesn’t have any romance, but this one is just so fun and real and adorable. I also love that there are other sexualities and identities included too, so almost everyone can see themselves in at least one of the characters.” – Charlotte – Twitter | Instagram
“The questioning and researching online about your sexuality felt real and relatable to me. The feeling of not being fully ready to come out is a very real thing that is done well here. Showing Charlie being accepting of Nick’s hesitation and not forcing him to come out before he’s ready is a positive narrative that should be the norm but often isn’t. It’s a great source of positive queer media in a landscape that is filled with tragic and often negative queer focused media. ” – Gabby – Twitter
“They were very well represented. It was nice to see a positive story which was representative of the LGBTQ+ community.” – Amy – Twitter
“I really liked that there were more LGBTQ characters introduced, and I feel like Alice Oseman’s inclusion of representation never feels forced. That’s one of the reasons I love her works so much.” – Caitlin – Twitter | Instagram
“So wholesome and pure!! It’s just really nice to read a lgbtq+ story that’s so positive and leaves you feeling all warm and cosy. I loved the exploration of Nick’s sexuality in this book and I think it was done really well and felt very realistic ie. his massive gay panic. Also I loved how supportive and understanding Charlie is. He really tries to help Nick.” – Charlotte – Twitter | Instagram
We also ask for any other general opinions on the book, reasons for the star rating etc. We spoke about this at Book Club too. A few people found the awkwardness of school and having a crush on a classmate very relatable to when they were at school. Someone also commented that it’s nice to have such a happy graphic novel as most they have read have been pretty sad! Below are some more thoughts.
“It’s really nice to see teenage boys that are allowed to express their emotions without it being seen as a negative thing.” – Gabby – Twitter
“Although I found it a little cheesy in parts, it was enjoyable on the whole. Definitely good for a light read.” – Amy – Twitter
Next month we are reading Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman! I’ve read Starfish by Akemi and it is a truly amazing book so I can’t wait to dive into Summer Bird Blue. The date of the next meet up is Thursday 26 September at 7pm, Chapter One Books in Manchester!
Let us know if you’ll be joining us with our new read!