Heartstopper Vol.1 by Alice Oseman
Alice Oseman is renowned in the Young Adult literature community for her diverse representation with her characters being ethnic minorities, LGBTQIA+, having mental illnesses, and having disorders. All of her current literary works overlap and have her characters making recurring appearances in each, with Heartstopper being an LGBTQIA+ contemporary graphic novel series that follows the story of two of those characters, Charlie Spring and Nick Nelson. Originally Nick and Charlie first appear as side characters in Alice Oseman’s debut novel Solitaire, but Heartstopper is the prequel that tells the origin story of how they met and the hardships they faced in becoming the openly LGTBQIA+ couple that they have become and are seen as in Solitaire, such as identity discovery, coming out, bullying, an eating disorder, and mental health. It needs to be noted that even though her books all link together, there is no particular order to read them in as each is a self-contained story.
Heartstopper originally started out, and continues to run, as a webcomic series, but was taken up to be released in printed form back in February, with Vol.2 set to release in July. The characters are so well rounded with each of their own personal stories sharing some aspect of diverse identity and the struggles they face which is what I love about Alice’s work. Her stories work really well in balancing the importance of certain themes and topics (such as eating disorders, depression, and homophobic abuse) alongside the light-hearted cuteness that comes with watching the bonds of friendships, family, and romantic relationships. Alice’s artwork is simplistic in its design, but it works effectively to keep focus on the characters and makes the events of a scene easy to follow without any confusion as to who is talking to whom, or how a character is interacting with their environment. Alice even manages to use the style of different frames to convey a character’s emotions in certain scenes spanning anywhere from those such as trauma to euphoria.
Heartstopper and Alice’s work in general is definitely something that is not only really enjoyable to read, but something that is important in sharing the stories of those from marginalised backgrounds and give them the voice they deserve for society to become educated in the multitude of hardships that they have to face.