I haven’t always been a fan of YA contemporaries, but I’ve learned that I sometimes need a break in between epic fantasies or sci-fi sagas, so it can be nice to jump into something completely different. Claire Kann’s Let’s Talk About Love had been on my radar for a while, even before it was released, and I was won over by the gorgeous, jubilant cover. 💜 It’s a story that explores sexuality, identity, and the difficulties of relationships both platonic and romantic. And it’s like a giant, gooey cinnamon roll of sweetness and — as Alice would say — squee!
Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis here!
What I Liked: This book is so, so cute. Much like Takumi, it exceeds the Cutie CodeTM! I was totally ready for a fun, contemporary read, and this story exceeded all of my expectations. Whenever I have trouble putting my thoughts into cohesive, sensible paragraphs, I use bullet points, so:
- Alice is the best — adorable, genuine, heartfelt, and my exact brand of nerdy. (For example: “She hadn’t cried this hard since she had watched the Fringe series finale.” I SCREAMED. 😱 Fringe is one of my all-time favorite TV shows, and if you haven’t watched it, WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING WITH YOUR LIFE???) She’s occasionally awkward but so completely and utterly full of love and warmth. I just want to hug her. 💜
- Alice is a biromantic asexual, and she experiences aesthetic attraction. I’m not extremely familiar with asexuality, so I appreciated the insightful glimpses into Alice’s thoughts and feelings — her desires, her fears, her struggles. She discusses and contemplates what it means to be a young black woman who is also queer and asexual — the microaggressions, unwanted sexual advances, people’s unrealistic perceptions of her (and lack of personal boundaries)…
- We see Alice and Takumi establish a solid friendship and communicate openly with one another about most anything, including assumptions people often make about them. Sure, it takes Alice some time to tell him that she’s asexual, but up until that point, she’s only told three people, including her counselor. (More about him below.) And they’re just so freaking cute together! The scene where they discussed pizza preferences? (And really, many, many others.) SWOON. 😊
- Alice starts seeing a counselor recommended by her friend Moschoula, and we see her go from being hesitant to talk to him to completely opening up and taking advantage of the safe space he provides for her. As someone who very recently began seeing a therapist, I can’t tell you how great it is to see a main character go through the same thing. There’s no stigma, no shame, no fear of being judged. What Alice learns is that asking for help can be hard, but it can also be one of the best decisions you can make for yourself.
What I Disliked:
- For some reason, it took me a few days to really get into this book. (It probably didn’t help that I stepped away from it for a few days to deal with some boring real-life stuff.) I don’t think the structure is all that different from a typical YA contemporary, but some of the transitions seemed too quick or abrupt. I also kept thinking that certain passages could have benefited from further editing; there were quite a few sentences that just… didn’t sound right? 🙁
- I’m still not sure how I feel about the parentheticals. I know they’re meant to be asides, separate from whatever is happening in that moment, but I wish they had been used a little more sparingly. (This might be one of my teacher pet peeves. 🤓)
- I went back and forth a lot about my thoughts on Feenie. It’s clear that she has a great deal of love for Alice — she even said she would die for her — and that Alice helps to keep her grounded. But man, she was hard to like sometimes. 😐 On the other hand, isn’t that how it is with some people? And Alice had her own flaws, too. I don’t know. I’ll have to think on it some more. I may have just felt for Alice so much that all of Feenie’s harsh remarks and criticisms triggered some defensiveness.
I’m so glad I picked up this book, and I would recommend it to most anyone. It’s a book with fantastic representation, a believable and relatable character arc, and a fluffy, cotton-candy-sweet protagonist who will win your heart almost instantly!
About the Author: Claire Kann