Loveless

Alice Oseman

I recently read Loveless by Alice Oseman in order to review it for The Publishing Post, a fortnightly magazine I work on as a contributing writer, and I had a surprising amount of thoughts on the book and so decided to write a more lengthy review of it here.

Loveless is a YA novel told from the perspective of Georgia, a quiet 18 year old who is starting university having never been kissed. This book brilliantly captures what it means to be a nervous fresher who feels completely out of their depth. While on the surface this may sound like a fairly predictable teenage narrative (of which there are hundreds), this particular story explores topics surrrounding asexuality and aromanticism in a rarely seen instance of representation.

The novel intelligently explores what it is to grow up surrounded by other people experiencing romantic feelings and relationships and wonder hwy you aren’t experiencing the same things. However, perhaps the best part is how Georgia frequently doesn’t even realise the things she isn’t feeling. She understands so many romatic and sexual feelings as unrealistic and only happening in books of films that she doesn’t even realise she’s different.

I have to mention one chapter in particualr, entitled Ellis. When Georgia returns home for Christmas after her first term at university her whole family are staying for the holiday. While I won’t give away completely what happens, Georgia ends up having an extended conversation with her older cousin, Ellis, about sexuality. Ellis is in her thirties and so the reader is given an inter-generational conversation between two age groups where this is rarely seen. It is rarely discussed how different the world has been for the current generation of teenagers compared to the millenials who are now in their thirties and so it’s easy to forget that the two can have very different experiences and understandings of sexuality and gender.

Admittedly, I found the language slightly simplistic at times, but recognise that I am not the intended audience for the book and I know that when I was I would have devoured it because the representation is fantastic. Although revisiting YA did make me feel slightly older than I would like for only being 21, it was deeply refreshing to see how societal perceptions of what it means to be LGBTQ+ have evolved and how this has translated into the YA fiction that I was desperately looking for when I was a queer teenager.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

The Miseducation of Cameron Post was one of the first queer YA books I read as a teenager. It looks at what happens to Cameron Post when she is caught with a girl and sent to a Christian conversion camp.

This plot lends itself to a deeply moving film which provides into the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth who face hostile and oftentimes actively harmful reactions to their identities but are powerless to avoid the dangerous situations they are forced into.

This film adaptation very successfully combines poignant moments that confront the audience with the treatment of queer young people with bittersweet moments of camaraderie between teenagers forced to find what little joy they can in such an abusive situation. The scene which immediately comes to mind at this point is when they are preparing food in the kitchen and start to sing and dance to the radio, which they’ve switched from Christian hymns to a mainstream station, before they are interrupted by Dr Lydia Marsh, the woman running the camp. This moment sums up the film brilliantly as it is one of the few moments of true joy that you witness the teenagers experience but it is abruptly cut short by an interruption that is an instant reminder of where they are.

I would also like to applaud the film for its representation of various minority groups. Although the protagonist, Cameron Post, is a queer white woman, her two closest friends at the camp are an amputee woman of colour and a 2-spirit native american individual, which is very refreshing in comparison to the many LGBTQ+ films which seem to almost exclusively feature individuals who are white, gender-conforming and able-bodied.

I was thrilled when I discovered this adaptation was being made and I was far from disappointed as it more than lives up to the novel, I would thoroughly recommend this film adaptation.