Rummanah Aasi
Shy and softhearted Charlie Spring sits next to rugby player Nick Nelson in class one morning. A warm and intimate friendship follows, and that soon develops into something more for Charlie, who doesn't think he has a chance. But Nick is struggling with feelings of his own, and as the two grow closer and take on the ups and downs of high school, they come to understand the surprising and delightful ways in which love works.

Review: Heartstopper began as a webcomic featuring two side characters in Alice Oseman's debut novel Solitare. The webcomic became so popular and spawned a kickstarter project to be turned into a print graphic novel series. This series manages to beautifully capture the fragility of first love, discuss serious topics, while also managing to be uplifting and full of joy. It warms my heart that this series exists.
  In this first volume we meet Charlie and Nick who on the surface seem to be complete opposites. Charlie is the only openly gay boy in his British all-boys grammar school. Charlie was been relentlessly bullied when he came out, but things have settled down. He is now in a secret yet toxic relationship with Ben, who hooks up with Charlie when it's convenient for him. Ben is closeted and won't tell anyone about their relationship. Not wanting to draw further attention, Charlie goes along with Ben. 
  When Charlie is assigned to sit next to Nick for an assignment, he is apprehensive. Nick appears to be intimating due to athletic physique due to being one of the school's best rugby players and is very popular. To Charlie's surprise, Nick treats him just like anyone else. Nick is super kind, attentive, interesting, and supportive. Soon Charlie and Nick form a platonic friendship and become close. As the graphic novel progresses, both characters want to their friendship to be more. Charlie fears he is falling for Nick, who he believes is straight, and he is hurling towards heartbreak. Meanwhile Nick who has always assumed he was straight, begins to question his identity and realizes that Charlie is his first boy crush. Both Charlie and Nick realize how bewildering and wonderful love can be. 
   This graphic novel series is definitely an episodic, slice of life story. The sweet, two-color, manga-inspired art seems simplistic at first glance, but detailed expressions convey the boys' longing, uncertainty, and joy. Oseman doesn't overwork her story with too much dialogue and plot, but allows Charlie and Nick to develop organically. If you are looking for a series that is incredibly endearing from start to finish, be sure to check it out. I highly recommend it.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is mild profanity and references to bullying and sexual harassment.

If you like this book try: Heartstopper Volume 2 by Alice Oseman, Bloom into You by Nio Nakatani, and Check, Please series by Ngozi Ukazu

 Nick and Charlie are best friends. Nick knows Charlie's gay, and Charlie is sure that Nick isn't. But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is discovering all kinds of things about his friends, his family and himself.

Review: The second volume of Heartstopper picks up immediately where the first book ends as Nick and Charlie's platonic friendship develops to something more. Still things are quite complicated for the two boys. What is their relationship status? How does Nick feel about it? 
 While the relationship between Charlie and Nick is the core of the graphic novel, the focus has shifted more to character development, particularly as it concerns Nick. Nick must confront his own personal confusion and fear surrounding his sexuality. I really like how Oseman shows Nick doing research in finding out where he is on the sexuality spectrum and also demonstrates that the characters have an open and honest communication with one another., a key concept that is important but rarely shown in young adult romances. Charlie doesn't rush or give Nick an ultimatum to find an answer either but reassures Nick that sexuality is fluid. When Nick does find an sexual orientation that feels right, it is up to Nick to decide when and who to tell his truth. 
  Charlie also grows in this volume too. He gains confidence to push back against Ben and Ben's toxicity. He stands up for himself and realizes that he deserves love, not a conditional and unhealthy relationship that he felt once stuck in. In addition to Charlie and Nick, we also meet Charlie's circle of friends who are diverse in ethnicity as well as sexual identities. 
  The illustrations in this volume are lovely and subdued, allowing the characters to take up space and match the whimsical tone of the graphic novel series. Nick and Charlie’s lighthearted and tender romance is delightful, and the genuine heart present in the characters makes for an uplifting read from start to finish. 

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and homophobic taunts in the graphic novel.

If you like this book try: Bloom into You by Nio Nakatani, and Check, Please series by Ngozi Ukazu, Bloom by Kevin Panetta
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