“I’ve learnt some Things. Like the way friendship can be just as intense, beautiful and endless as romance. Like the way there’s love everywhere around me — there’s love for my friends, there’s love for my paintings, there’s love for myself.”
― Alice Oseman, Loveless
Alice Oseman’s most recent novel, Loveless, didn’t make me squeak, ship or root as much as her other works have, but it did give me a very powerful reminder.
I am a huge fan of Oseman’s flawless stories of love, friendship, identity, youth and everything in between. Ever since beloved booktuber Kat from paperbackdreams was crying on main for the millionth time because of Alice Oseman’s second novel, Radio Silence, I knew I had to give this author a try.
So I read Radio Silence and it really did it for me. The commentary on being academically bright and forced into a specific educational path by obsolete social expectations spoke to me on many more levels than I thought possible.
I reviewed Radio Silence already and you can read there in more detail why I think it’s an exquisite YA story.
After Radio Silence I binged nearly all of Oseman’s other books, but for some reason, I never felt compelled to pick up Loveless until only recently. And boy do I regret that now.
It’s no news that Alice Oseman is known for the wide representation they always prioritise in their works. From amazing representation of sexuality to race to mental health to educational and intellectual preferences, chances are you will identify with at least one of their characters.
Now that I’ve read the entirety of the osemanverse, so everything she has ever published, I can safely say I strongly relate to Tori Spring from Solitaire and Heartstopper, probably the most of all Alice’s characters. However, I have found myself in Nick Nelson’s journey to discovering his sexuality (Heartstopper), in Frances Janvier’s educational aspirations (Radio Silence) and in Jason Farley-Shaw’s kind and reserved romantic spirit (Loveless).
But all of Alice’s stories up until Loveless had some kind of love story at least going on in the background that I always rooted for. Well, enter Georgia Warr, our aromantic and asexual main character.
Alice Oseman is also aro/ace so Loveless is very much based on their experience in a world where this particular sexuality is seldom known or spoken about, making those who identify as either one or both aromantic/asexual feel inadequate.
Our protagonist has never had a real crush, never dated, never kissed anyone and now she is a university student, she tries her hardest to find her match. The only problem is that physical interactions make her severely uncomfortable and she seems to not be able to have any romantic feelings for anyone.
“Friends are automatically classed as ‘less important’ than romantic partners. I’d never questioned that. It was just the way the world was. I guess I’d always felt that friendship just couldn’t compete with what a partner offered, and that I’d never really experience real love until I found romance.
But if that had been true, I probably wouldn’t have felt like this.”
― Alice Oseman, Loveless
The story is a candid but difficult one of self-discovery, as Georgia finds out she is aro/ace and begins to embrace her sexuality.
The main idea of the story is that, although we’re raised to believe romantic relationships are the main way to be happy in life, other relationships are just as, if not more important.
Although I’m not aromantic, nor asexual, and unfortunately know no one who is, it was refreshing to watch Georgia give everything to strengthen and cherish her friendships, once she accepted she didn’t need to look for a romantic partner in order to be happy.
I think I’m not the only one who has felt lost after a breakup and only found solace in the company of their closest friends and family. And although I am in a happy, stable relationship, the connections I have with other people I love are just as important and should never come second to my romantic relationship.
Loveless is a celebration of powerful connections and unromantic love, and I can see how it can make a significant difference in the lives of those who identify as aromantic/asexual. But even if you don’t, you will find great value in Alice Oseman’s novel, much like in everything else she has written.
It’s not only about being able to relate to the main character, it’s about learning to understand how different people identify and how they feel, and about learning to nurture your other relationships.
Have you been checking up on your friends lately?
Eliza Lita is a freelance writer based in the UK. She covers books and reading, fitness, lifestyle, and personal development. Please consider signing up for a Medium membership through her referral link for more of her stories.