Genre: YA Contemporary
Frances has her sights set on attending Cambridge University. Her entire life revolves around her studies and school and nothing will stand in her way. However when she meets shy, introverted Aled, the guy behind her favourite podcast, he unlocks her creative side and the Real Frances. I don’t want to say too much more about the book, but that this is a story about friendship and finding yourself with a wonderfully diverse cast of characters.
I have not read Oseman’s debut novel Solitaire so I really had no idea what to expect going into this, other than that it has had rave reviews on just about every social media platform. I was a little hesitant going in, but in the end I managed to read this 400 page book in one sitting! It completely hooked me with interesting and well-rounded characters that I really cared about. As I mentioned previously, this book has a diverse cast of characters, both racially and with characters across the LGBTQ+ spectrum. It was so gratifying to read a character who openly identified as bisexual and I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve seen the term ‘demisexual’ used in a book as well. And it didn’t feel like Oseman was putting this in just to tick off a checklist – every character felt genuine and real.
This book has a lot of social media aspects and really uses Youtube and Tumblr as devices to propel the story along. As someone who at one point used Tumblr A LOT and had a significant following for a while I really identified with this, but I think anyone who’s used any social media platform will also enjoy these aspects. There are a lot pop culture references which I personally enjoyed as I think it makes characters in contemporary more relatable and dimensional.
The friendship between Aled and Frances was so well done. It was so wonderful to read about a friendship that was healthy and full of love, but also to read about a m/f friendship that had absolutely nothing else to it. All of the relationships in this book were done really well but I also really enjoyed the one between Frances and her mum. I find too often YA has negative or just non-existent portrayals of mother/daughter relationships, which are important but ones which I don’t personally relate to. They were obviously very close and you could tell that Frances’ mum just wanted the best for her but never pushed her around or told her what to do.
Overall this was a fantastic contemporary novel that incorporates social media, diversity and healthy and loving relationships. I absolutely adored it and can definitely say it’s one of my favourite books of the year so far. If you want to read a contemporary but are looking for something fresh and different than I would HIGHLY recommend this! (Actually, I just highly recommend this to everyone!).
If you’ve read the book and want to know my in depth and spoiler-y thoughts, I discussed them with the book club I participate in on google hangout. You can watch the video here!