Staff Review – Heartstopper: Volume 1 by Alice Oseman

If you have Netflix, you may be familiar with the title “Heartstopper”, as this heartwarming graphic novel has recently become a series on the streaming service, opens a new window. Alice Oseman’s story follows Charlie Spring, a young openly gay teenager at an all boys school in the UK. Before we meet Charlie, we learn he was bullied when he was first outed, but has now become a popular student at the school (with most students). He meets Nick Nelson, a rugby player with a good heart, and the two become fast friends. Charlie can’t help but start to fall for Nick, but his friend reminds him that Nick is straight…isn’t he? As the friendship grows, Nick starts to question how exactly he feels about his new friend Charlie and himself.

This graphic novel is filled with sweetness. While there are serious topics throughout the story (Charlie’s past bullying, his encounters with a past partner, etc.), Oseman’s writing and illustrations are so lighthearted and touching that it makes the story very easy to read. The visual content of the story is all in a light green colour, with different shades but no other colours used.

Oseman does a fantastic job of illustrating the story – and especially Charlie and Nick. Their facial expressions say so much throughout the graphic novel, and speaks volumes when there are no words written. The lines she adds to their faces when they are blushing tells the reader instantly how the teen boys are feeling, showing that while Charlie may have developed a crush on Nick not long after meeting him, Nick’s feelings towards Charlie slowly change and become apparent to the reader as the story continues. Nick goes through a lot of self-discover in this first volume, and especially in the series as a whole.

As mentioned, this review is on volume 1 of “Heartstopper”. There are currently four volumes out, with a fifth and final volume expected in 2023. If you head online to read reviews of the series, you’ll likely see a lot of the same words used: sweet, precious, wholesome, cute – you get the idea. This story of friends slowly becoming more has touched the hearts of all who have read it. While Charlie openly and happily identifies as gay, Nick has never seemed to question his sexuality before meeting his new friend. Falling for the person and not their gender, this story shows that sometimes love can sneak up on you and happen when you’re not expecting it. If you haven’t already, fall in love with Heartstopper by Alice Oseman today!