Frances Janvier spends most of her time studying.
Everyone knows Aled Last as that quiet boy who gets straight As.
You probably think that they are going to fall in love or something. Since he is a boy and she is a girl.
They don’t. They make a podcast.
In a world determined to shut them up, knock them down, and set them on a cookie cutter life path, Frances and Aled struggle to find their voices over the course of one life-changing year. Will they have the courage to show everyone who they really are? Or will they be met with radio silence?
This was my last Alice Oseman novel and I had no idea that I would fall in love with it the way I did. I’ve heard mixed things about this and I was unsure how I would feel about it. Even the first hundred pages or so, I was unsure about it and how I would end up feeling about it by the end of the book.
And then I absolutely fell for it. Oseman has a way of writing that has this raw and beautiful honesty, like the characters are speaking directly to you. Like they are hiding nothing. And they are broken, and they are emotional, and they are real. I loved them for it.
I wonder- if nobody is listening to my voice,
This story follows Frances, the listener of a podcast, and Aled, the creator. It is about how they find each other in a time when they both need somebody to save them. It is about friendship, not romance, which felt so refreshing. I love how Oseman decided to write about a friendship and face it up front, even addressing it in the book (You probably think that Aled Last and I are going to fall in love or something. Since he is a boy and I am a girl. I just wanted to say—we don’t). It felt so amazing to have such a diverse cast of characters with different friendships and relationships, with no relationship being the focus of the story.
It dealt closely with sexuality in places, with one of the characters discussing demisexuality which I was surprised by and absolutely warmed my heart, identifying as demi myself. This book also dealt with emotional abuse and family issues, all the while showing an absolutely heart warming family in Frances and her mum that felt so incredibly well done. The diverse friendship group was amazing and supported each other through everything. I loved them.
The plot had just enough mystery in it that I never wanted to put it down, and I read this in less than 24 hours. I read some of it on audio, but at least half in physical format, and I couldn’t put it down. The podcast being woven into the story played into this, as I wanted to find out what happened in the Universe City world too.
am I making any sound at all?
It also discussed a lot of issues surrounding school and university, which as somebody who could be classed as a ‘school refuser’ at one point in my life, I related to and found it such an important conversation which I’m so glad Oseman faced head on. It was fascinating and encouraging to see a book that talked about healthy alternatives to higher education, and I loved it.
Overall, wow did this blow me away. I had no idea how much I would fall for it and that it would become my favourite Oseman book!
5 out of 5 stars
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽