A Mainstream Novel With An Aro Ace Character: Loveless by Alice Oseman

2020 is the year that the book publishing Gods have finally bestowed a main-stream novel that has an aromantic asexual main character that deals with coming to terms with these labels! The name of this alleged gem: Loveless written by Alice Oseman.

I have been looking forward to "Loveless" since last year when I heard of its existence. But what is it actually about? 

Georgia is about to move to university, and despite being obsessed with romantic fan fics as well as the squishy love stories among her friends, she has never been in love herself, and neither does she think about sex. Nevertheless, she believes that one day she is going to fall in love, and maybe university is going to be her chance. However, nothing fits and even the smallest efforts don't lead anywhere. So what could it be? This is also the first time Georgia encounters the words "asexual" and "aromantic." 

Since I picked up this novel specific because of its aro-ace representation, let's dig right into it: 

Personally, the inner conflicts that Georgia has with being aro-aco have felt very familiar. From all the little "oh" moments, including the bits that "wait, this isn't what everyone else does?" There is a scene in which Georgia makes fun of teen movies always being concerned about losing ones virginity - because who really thinks like that? Which in the end, turned out to be an ace thing. It is all in there, even the more embarrassing parts are discussed.

I was able to see myself and what I had experienced in the past in various of Georgia's steps - both for being aro and ace. This is also due to the author writing an own voice novel, so these are Oseman's experiences packed into a quirky Young/New Adult novel. 

However, sometimes Oseman seems to deliberately side-step the obvious route for Georgia to find the definition of aro-ace and hangs a lampshade over the fact: very early in the book Georgia takes the Kinsey Scale test. Her result is the X, and instead of clicking on the proper definition or googling it - thus encountering this mysterious sexuality called asexuality, Georgia closes the laptop and moves on. 

The same happens when she sees Sunil's pride flag, which the reader very early indefinites as an asexual flag, and Georgia is like "huh, I wonder what does flag is?" and never does anything about it! This was a bit frustrating. Not because I mind that Georgia would take longer to encounter the words that helps her become who she really is but because it is ignored in such an obvious way. 

On top of this, I can see why people may take offense in Georgia being another asexual character who fulfills the shy girl trope. 

Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the characters and their dynamic. The book spans over the course of a year, and in this year each of these characters grows so much. It happens via shatter, break, and mend it to something better. At the same time, none of them fall apart at the same time, so it is not depressing in the sense that anyone is left totally alone to go through their troubles. By the end of the book, they all seem to be their best way possible, while still acknowledging that there is room for growth. 

While this is a novel that deals with romance and sexuality, the happily ever after is not found in those. This is like soothing balm on my soul. 

Next to Georgia there are also other aro and ace characters in the book. Sunil being the most prominent, who is gay-ace, and introduces Georgia to asexuality as well as guiding her through queer space for the first time. They are a very likable character and such a joy to read. Then there is one cousin who hadn't realised that there are words for who she is, as well as Sunil's best friend who is aromantic but not asexual. 

There are also other queer characters in the book, so almost all of the spectrum is covered, even if not always in great detail. It is a very refreshing read to have a queer character being helped by another, and not by a confused cishet.

"Loveless" is a story that while dealing with love and romance, is very much about friendship and learning to love yourself. I enjoyed reading it because it was easy, fun, and I saw myself on some of those pages. I would recommend it to everyone who either wants a better understanding on what aro-ace people feel like or anyone on the spectrum who wants to see a bit of themselves. 

 Loveless by Alice Oseman  
 published    2020
by  HarperCollins Children’s Books
 GoodreadsAdd to shelf 
Content warning:mentions of sex

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