Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.
But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).
When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.
PUBLISHED ON 23 JANUARY 2018 BY SWOON READS
Lets’ Talk About Love perfectly represents a biromantic, asexual, black girl with a diverse cast to support her while she struggles to be vocal about her orientation and through her dramatic conversations.
I absolutely adored this book. Let me start by appreciating the on-point representation. Now, a little disclaimer: I’m not black but I’m a POC; I’m not labelled as asexual but romanticism holds more importance in my life than physical affection; and I’m not queer but I always try to educate myself about them, so sorry if my opinions might be differing from the more relatable readers.
This book is vocal about everything that one needs to hear. As a black protagonist, though Alice doesn’t pin-point each and every occurrence, she doesn’t fail to subtly mention the racial micro-aggression almost every POC has to go through. Right from the start when Margot (her ex-girlfriend) breaks up with her and wonders why Alice doesn’t like sex but she’s black, to the end when Alice has an emotional conversation with her dad where he mention how black people have to be perfect, inhumanely good at everything and even then [they] can fail because that’s the way the system is set up. Not only this, even Takumi (the love interest), at places, voices out the irritating misconceptions he comes across as a Japanese. In addition to being a biromantic, black person, Alice struggles all the more with her orientation. While she’s comfortable with her choice, she isn’t very comfortable with being outspoken about her label. More often than not, she finds herself running away from flirts because she’s afraid it would all eventually lead up to that one explanation she’s dreaded to—why are you asexual?
One thing I loved about the story is how accurately it explains asexuality but doesn’t sound like an information brochure. The main theme prospers so well: Asexuality isn’t about not liking sex, instead it’s about not needing/wanting/giving a damn about sex. The story, almost perfectly, deals with every possible solution people can offer Alice—like the ever-so-annoyingly-dumb have you gone to a doctor because it’s not natural to not want sex. The protagonist makes it evident how wrong the entire notion of acquainting sexual desire with romantic feelings is, and how upsetting the already assumed conceptions can be.
Not only does the book focus on what asexuality means, it also encompasses what asexuality can possibly mean. The overall concept about orientation—it doesn’t follow a set of rules and is simply a label to identify oneself, according oneself—is superbly intertwined.
I think this review would become too lengthy and potentially spoiled if I keep praising the representation so let’s jump to another excellent aspect of this story: contemporary humor. God, do I love some good humor set in my times, lol. Alice’s story is in a third-person limited narration and she comes across as this fun loving, dramatic girl who I loved! As an over-dramatic myself, her struggle to be coherent around her crush or how highly she has ranked food in her life is so refreshingly funny (and relatable), I can’t even. There are references that can delight those who get them.
The characters are so well-thought and sorted to uplift this story, each one had their role to play in Alice’s life. Her best friends, Feenie and Ryan, who are engaged, always stand by her side but their individuality is taken in account too, when they get upset with her over things I don’t want to spoil for you guys. Even Alice’s family and her equation with them is simultaneously dealt with, giving more depth to her character. The relationship is developed amazingly. While there’s the initial attraction and the whole I-have-a-crush-on-you-so-I-can’t-breathe-around-you scenes, Alice and Takumi gradually like each other. There are peaks and downs, and through the course of the journey, Alice grows to be a better person—a more happy person.
Also, an honourable mention: Tumblr and aesthetics are given a much-deserved attention in this book and I couldn’t have been more happy! I’m a cutie addict and cherish all things aesthetic so when Alice mentions a Cutie Code she uses to categorise people, I loved her. Moreover, she accounts all the Tumblr Asks she has read about her fellow asexual individuals or how much she has educated herself about her orientation through the Internet, it’s all too realistically great. While most things worked for me, the writing seemed a little bland. There are numerous parentheses and sure, they work for the humor, but they aren’t something I completely enjoy so this might be my personal take.
Overall, I would recommend this to everyone who want to either relate themselves or educate themselves about under-represented labels, while enjoying the story of a dramatic nineteen-year-old.
I received a digital copy of this book as a part of a blog tour but that in no way influences my rating and/or opinions about it. Thank you Xpresso Book Tours, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and Claire Kann!This post may contain affiliate links; to know more click here.
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