Let’s Talk About Love
Author: Claire Kann
Publication Date: January 23rd, 2018
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Page count: 284
CW: aphobia, sexual assault
Alice had her whole summer planned. Nonstop 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.
This book had a lot going for it! The main character, Alice, is a biromantic, asexual college student and the book explores her experiences as a queer black female while figuring out how to balance friendships and figure out what she wants for her future. I felt that all the layers of this story meshed together well. I also found the writing style to be light and fun with a lot of Alice’s internal monologue happening within parentheses, letting us see right into her entirely relatable thoughts.
I don’t often encounter books with asexual characters very often, and even fewer that actually explore asexuality with characters who are explicitly on-the-page aces. I felt this book not only succeeded at having representation but in discussing the topic as well. Alice not only deals with aphobia from exes who can’t possibly fathom that a person can be asexual but still have romantic feelings but she also goes to a therapist to discuss her hesitancy to come out and say she’s asexual (can I get a hell yeah for normalization of seeing a therapist, please?). When I saw this was a romance with an asexual main character, my number one fear was that the love interest would somehow ‘fix’ Alice or that she’d sacrifice her comfort for her love interest and I am so glad that this was not the case.
In this book, Alice uses what she refers to as the cutie-scale as a measure of how attractive she finds people and I thought the relationships in this book ranked pretty high on my cutie scale. There is insta-attraction with Takumi and Alice to a point where Alice can barely function. From there, she’s able to get past her awkwardness and becomes really close friends with Takumi. While it was very much a long and drawn out slowburn type of relationship, I appreciated the time that was given for the two of them to develop a close friendship before becoming lovers. As a reader you get to watch them listen and slowly learn from each other. I haven’t read too many romances where time is given to develop such a close and intimate friendship before moving to something more and it was refreshing. Takumi seemed to truly care for Alice and listened to her and every interaction between them legitimately had me squealing.
But it wasn’t just the relationship between Takumi and Alice that made this book work for me. Alice has been best friends with the selfless Ryan and the fiesty, ready to fight Feenie forever and are so close that Feenie even calls Alice her ‘soulmate.’ Ryan and Feenie are a couple and Alice has started to feel like she’s third-wheeling it. The fracturing of the relationships between Alice and her friends throughout the novel is heartbreaking but also dealt with very real circumstances like the strains of growing up and balancing relationships. People change over time and friendship dynamics do too. I was invested in their failing friendship throughout the novel, almost as much as I was with Alice and Takumi.
This book came to me at a time when I desperately needed it. After finishing a book I had been looking forward to for quite a while I found myself almost disappointed with the book and after reflection, it wasn’t that it had been a bad read. I found myself a bit tired of the whole ‘let’s overthrow the government,’ dystopian vibe. I told myself it was because the book didn’t do anything new or refreshing. After further dissection of the book, I realized that wasn’t accurate assessment. What it came down to was pretty simple – I had burnt out on my beloved sci-fi/fantasy genre. We needed to take a break. I needed a palate cleanser to clear my book tastebuds and make it so they were feeling refreshed and ready to taste new, exciting stories.
Keeping that in mind, I went looking for a complete change in pace – I needed a contemporary piece and not only that, I wanted something cute. Something fluffy. And this book accomplished exactly that for me. While Let’s Talk about love had it’s fair share of drama and angst, overall it left one’s spirits lifted. I had a lot of fun reading it and when the book was over, I felt good. At less than 300, it’s a quick, entertaining read and I’d highly recommend it. 5 bugs outta 5!