Let’s Talk About Love
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.
Before you continue on I would like to highlight THIS OWNVOICES REVIEW. They can speak more for the Ace representation for this book (I can only speak for the black and queer rep).
I was pleasantly surprised that this book was read as a Rom Com! I thought the repetitive parenthesis and overall cheesiness of the book would bug me but this honestly had me laughing out loud. Alice’s thought process was just too cute to ignore and it was fun to be in her head
This was also almost near perfect. I had everything I look for in a YA contemporary romance novel: cute romance, hilarious narrative, relatable characters and a complex home life. However, not all is perfect but I will get to that part later.
Our main character, Alice is black and identifies as bi romantic asexual. She had a relationship with a woman in the beginning of the novel and but develops a new one with a man. She comes a long line of lawyers and her family constantly puts a lot of pressure on her to continue that legacy. She works in a library and it’s also the place where she meets Takumi who immediately catches her eye.
I loved Alice. She’s flawed, has an attitude that almost reflects my own and also develops nicely throughout the story. She’s already come out as asexual to her best friends but struggles with her asexuality when it comes to relationships and her family. Her ex girlfriend dumped her because she thought Alice “hated” sex which is unfortunately a common misconception when it comes to asexuality.
I also liked our Alice being asexual wasn’t just a slapped on label. We get to learn more about Alice such as her love for online streaming and food (so me). We learn she has a cutie meter which is equally adorable and creative.
I won’t say if this was good representation (again refer to the own voices review) but I will say it’s nice to see “Asexual” and “Biromantic” ON PAGE. No, it’s not implied but Alice and several other characters actually uses the label. Greysexual is also mentioned on page! A Triple YES! The book also dives deep into the differences between arousal and attraction, which is also important when trying to explain asexuality. Misconceptions are also shot down and and stereotypes are never used.
There wasn’t a lot of discussions about race in the book but there were subtle racist comments about Alice that many black people, especially black women, have to faced today. I don’t know why the phrase “you’re cute for a black girl” is still used as a pick up line! Alice doesn’t necessary call them out on it but she doesn’t blatantly ignore these comments either. The book also discusses how black folks have to work much harder in school and the work place in order to be taken seriously in which I can attest to. Although my GPA is good, I constantly feel I have to prove myself, especially when I’m trying to get the respect of my peers and classmates. I appreciate seeing this struggle in book form since I sometimes I feel alone ( *sigh* there’s little to no black people where I live).
The relationship between Alice and Takumi was honestly adorable. Both were intrigued by each other from the start but it was still slow burn. This book didn’t really have a plot and it was more of the development of their relationship but I did not care at all. I loved their dates, their dialogue, their facial expressions, just everything. However, at times, I felt they were a little too dependent on one another but it wasn’t too bad.
Okay, in MY OPINION, I didn’t like Feenie or Ryan. I thought they were too petty when Alice started hanging out with Takumi more than them even though they ditch Alice all the time. I get the message that when you get into a relationship, you should never ditch your friends or forget about them but their fight was still tiresome. I felt like I was supposed to care about this subplot but all I didn’t???? BUT, I did like how Feenie and Ryan weren’t judgy with Alice being asexual, even though they already knew since the beginning. I can tell there is a deep bond between the trio and maybe I wish there were more chapters that really explained their friendship so I can further understand their connection.
A therapy positive book is my favorite book, especially one that doesn’t have a main character with a mental illness. Alice seeks therapy in order to talk through her struggles with being asexual and how to be more open in general. Therapy is NORMALIZED in the book. I also love how her therapist doesn’t just “solve” the problems. The therapist isn’t always right but Alice still considers his suggestions. Oh, the therapist is a man which is never seen in book form (or if he is, he is the “ineffective” therapist).
I heard the original draft was a mess when it came to the ace rep and the relationship between Alice and Takumi. I can say that original draft problems didn’t enter the final draft (again can’t speak about the ace rep)! Even if you’re not black or identify as ace, you can take something from this book. It’s a friendship heavy book and also chronicles the struggles of college students.
Also, even though the writing takes getting used to, I thought it was always engaging and the pace was nice. The reason why I give a lot of contemporaries 3 stars is because they’re times where the story just drags or I’m just flat out bored. With this one, I never felt such. I highly recommend but again, I would refer to the biroace rep review as they can offer more in detail about the representation.
Memorable Quote: ” I am very loving, I cry at the end of romcom. My favorite movie is Splash. I want someone to give me flowers and take me on dates. I want to fall in love and wear a giant princess dress at my wedding. I want to have a happy ending, too, and all that other magical stuff. I want what books and TV and the world has promised me. It’s not fair that I should have to want sex to have it.”