Review by Charmaine Lee
HarperCollins Children’s Books, July 2020
448 pages, paperback, $12.99 CAD, 978-0008244125
Ages 14+, Grades 9+
Young Adult, Contemporary Realism, LGBTQ+
Rooney returned to continue arguing with Pip over the largest bedroom, but I just stayed there for a moment, looking at what might be my future living space. After months of sleeping next to one of my best friends, I was a little nervous about going back to a solo bedroom. Sleeping in a silent room with just my thoughts.
I had time to get used to the idea, though.
Until then, we would keep the beds together.
Finally, a tribute to young adults who have been herded into reading romance novels, but repeatedly feel disappointed by them, and have no idea why. Loveless is a five-part novel about understanding what it means to be asexual and aromantic, and wholeheartedly coming to terms with it.
Georgia is a freshman at Durham University and is undoubtedly nervous, but excited. She is excited for her new roommate and to be attending university with her two best friends, Pip and Jason. Georgia’s heartwarming friendship with her best friends is also what makes her journey a heartbreaking one, when the line between friendship and romance gets blurred by confusion and they begin distancing from each other. Their friendship is one that readers will root for, as they experience arguments that will resonate with anyone who has ever pulled a friendship through a rough patch.
The story is told through a combination of Georgia’s own voice and text messages exchanged between her friends and roommate. The characters’ thoughts and dialogues perfectly capture the tone of a 19-year-old girl living in the modern world. Phrases like, “I started to wonder whether he would tell Pip and Pip would hate me. But then she messaged me that afternoon with a link to a really funny TikTok, which definitely meant that Jason hadn’t told her” caught me by surprise—these are the voices of authentic teenagers.
Asexuality and aromanticism are underrepresented in the already slim selection of LGBTQ+ young adult novels. So, for many, this will be a life-changing novel in which the readers will be able to recognize themselves on the page for the first time, and can take what they will from the story. That said, Georgia’s story is on the more extreme end of the aro/ace spectrum, so those on different parts of the spectrum might feel misrepresented. At the end of the day, Georgia is just one character. This story paves the way for more LGBTQ+ stories to be written, which can highlight other individuals’ experiences.
This was a tough story to tell, but an important one to get out there. Stories with inclusions of LGBTQ+ characters like Loveless, They Both Die at the End and One of Us is Lying represent an important and necessary shift in the YA genre. But Loveless is especially perfect for readers who have never felt butterflies, and maybe never will. And that’s okay.
Charmaine Lee is a Computer Science major and Creative Writing minor at the University of British Columbia. She enjoys writing for children and thinking critically about the impact of digital media. Visit her at www.charmaineklee.com and @charmaine_klee on twitter.