Review: This Winter (#0.5) by Alice Oseman

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Goodreads | Waterstones

The festive season isn’t always happy for Tori Spring and her brother Charlie. And this year’s going to be harder than most.
I used to think that difficult was better than boring, but I know better now…

This is a short story from Tori and Charlie’s perspectives (and a little bit of Oliver’s perspective (their little brother)). It is set over the course of Christmas Day in their house, with the perspectives told in a linear order. It is set before Solitaire and in the same timeline as Heartstopper Volume 4, so if you have read Solitaire you’ll be fine for spoilers, but you will get spoilers for the Heartstopper timeline if you haven’t read Solitaire. Hopefully that makes sense for anyone wondering whether you want to read it yet!

I really like the balance in all of Alice’s novels between hopefulness and sadness. Even in her short stories she manages to make me cry and break my heart. This novel discusses a lot of Charlie’s history with having an eating disorder, but it felt really well discussed. I really liked that this wasn’t shied away from and was also discussed in relation to Christmas and family gatherings, which can be hard for everyone but especially those with eating disorders.

I also really liked that this was told from all of the siblings points of view. They felt familiar, having read Heartstopper and Solitaire before (which is told from Tori’s perspective), and I really liked reading their takes on Christmas day. Of course Nick is amazing too, and such a supportive boyfriend to Charlie. It was so heartwarming to see him supporting Charlie. Having little Oliver in at the end with a little heartwarming scene with his mum was very cute.

I’m really glad I read this on Christmas Eve night, it felt like the perfect time to read it with Christmas the next day!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Solitaire by Alice Oseman

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Goodreads | Amazon

In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.
My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.
Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.
I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.
I really don’t.

I have to say, I think this book is going to be one of the hardest I ever review in my whole blogging history. I’m looking at this screen right now and my mind is blank, because it’s very hard to put into words how you will feel as a reader before you actually read this book. From reading other reviews, it’s a very love/hate, depending on whether you can relate to Tori herself. I’ve definitely had times in my life where I’ve felt like Tori did throughout this novel, therefore I found it very meaningful for me personally. Saying this, I can also see why people hated it. If you have a different mindset to Tori, you could easily see her as the most whiny, pessimistic person on the planet and want for her to ‘just snap out of it already’. This reaction But she is totally not. She just suffers in her own way.

“But books–they’re different. When you watch a film, you’re sort of an outsider looking in.”

Tori Spring has to be the most raw, honest and emotive main character I’ve read in YA. Ever. Because of this, I found myself on a very intense emotional rollercoaster, in which I would take a break from this book and just have to pause for a minute.

I think the easiest way to describe Tori is that she says everything we have all thought at some point in our lives but sound crazy in our heads. She express worries we have probably all had and dismissed. And because of that, she is one of the most relatable girls in YA, to the deepest and darkest parts of you.

The reason this book is so intense and difficult is because the main subject is Tori’s deep and personal struggling. It becomes more and more apparent throughout the book how much she is dealing with when it comes to her mental health, and the massive affect this is having on her life.

“With a book–you’re right there. You are inside. You are the main character.”

Moving on from Tori herself, this book is also about family and friendship. And let me tell you, there are not enough books in this world about family and friends, and too many about romance. This book was also about mystery, and the addition of the whole Solitaire sub-plot kept the pages turning so fast for me.

I’m going to leave by saying that personally, this book wasn’t without it’s problems, and it did leave me slightly annoyed in some places, and in need of more explanation in some. But for a debut, it makes me super excited to explore Alice’s other works.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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