Author: Alice Oseman
Genre: YA Contemporary
My Rating: ★★★★
In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.
My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.
Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.
I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.
I really don’t.
This incredible debut novel by outstanding young author Alice Oseman is perfect for fans of John Green, Rainbow Rowell and all unflinchingly honest writers.
I recently fell in love with Alice Oseman’s webcomic, Heartstopper (you can read the entire thing for free on tumblr and Tapas, but Volume 1 will be published in February 2019) and my excitement level skyrocketed when I found out that the main characters from Heartstopper are in Solitaire.
This book starts out with Tori, a high school student who enjoys blogging, but prefers to be antisocial and doesn’t have a close relationship with her family (except with her brother, Charlie.) One day she discovers a mysterious blog called Solitaire. And then the anonymous creator of Solitaire begins pulling pranks at her school. What even makes it more mysterious is that these pranks seem to have some significance to Tori.
And like the tag line on the cover says, “this is not a love story”; which is kind of true. Yes, there is a very subtle romance, but it doesn’t overpower everything. Michael Holden was the shining light for me in this book and I really hope we get to see more of him in Alice Oseman’s future works.
I think this book may not be for everyone, though, and that is because the main character, Tori, is very pessimistic and cynical. I mean, she’s relatable to me, but I can understand if the “negative teen” character might not be for you. I totally get it. But keep in mind that this book addresses some serious themes; the biggest being depression. Depression is something Tori suffers from on a daily basis and this story follows Tori as she comes to terms with her mental illness and accepts support from her friends and family.
And this story is also about how we change as we grow up, and how it’s normal for our old friends to drift apart and for new people to enter our lives. But that it is also okay to reach out to our friends and to have a support system when we need it the most.
I loved how Alice Oseman was able to tug at my heartstrings with her writing. And the fact that she’s always inclusive with LGBTQIAP+ rep is what we need more of in the world. I truly believe her work deserves more hype and I can’t wait to read her other books!
Trigger warnings: self harm, eating disorders, OCD, suicidal thoughts, bullying, anxiety, depression.