Friday 12 June 2020

ReadItDaddy's Comic / Graphic Novel of the Week - Week Ending 12th June 2020: "Heartstoppers Volume 3" by Alice Oseman (Hachette)

We've raved about the previous two volumes of "Heartstoppers" by Alice Oseman, and the story shows no signs of veering off the road with Volume 3 now available.

It's been out for a while but we're only just playing catchup on the blog with the latest instalment of the story of two boys who meet, become friends and then fall head over heels in love with each other.

Charlie and Nick are now officially boyfriends, and Charlie is now feeling brave enough to come out to his mum - but coming out isn't just a one-shot thing. Everyone will find out about Charlie and Nick sooner rather than later, and there's a school trip to Paris to navigate too!

Alice deftly demonstrates the ups and downs of a budding relationship - and the amazing feeling when someone's really there for you through thick and thin, and is prepared to put as much on the line for you as you are for them.

Alice's storytelling and illustrations make this instantly compelling for any gender or sexual preference, purely because she puts such a whomping great big beating heart into her story, and makes her characters believable, grounded and of course just as vulnerable as anyone you'd meet in your own life.

She also touches on other tricky subjects such as self-harm and eating disorders, as we see a more vulnerable and fragile side of Charlie emerging as the story develops.

As we mentioned with the previous volumes, what Alice manages more successfully than any other aspect of Charlie and Nick's Story (and it's not all 100% perfect. Some plot elements feel a bit weirdly ham-fisted and distant in the way she deals with them) is what it feels like for anyone who's falling in love for the first time,  regardless of who they are. Even old farts like me will be taken straight back to the heady days of their youth, remembering a summer when a crush turned into something far more. That inescapable feeling that suddenly the world you live in would be unbearable without the object of your desire in it. Boy does she ever nail that beautifully in this series.

Notes for parents: Strong language and adult themes so worth a read before you let younger tweenagers loose on it (though personally I am pretty sure most 12 year olds would've heard riper language in their playground at school long before they hit Year 7).

Sum this graphic novel up in a sentence: Dealing with the trickier hues and tones when a relationship starts to get serious, this is perfect for tweens and teens who have a zillion and one questions and issues of their own, wrapped up in a really solidly readable love story.

"Heartstoppers Volume 3" by Alice Oseman is available now, published by Hachette (Kindly supplied for review).