Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?
I love Alice Oseman for creating this webcomic! In a world of very little bi rep, I want to see more Nicks with loving partners regardless of their gender.
The comic is told between both Nick and Charlie’s point of view, and especially in the first few chapters we see moments of them both together, as well as on their own to examine how their background may influence the romance. Charlie is an out gay boy who was previously bullied after being outed, while Nick is a rugby player who is just coming to realise his sexual orientation.
My favourite storyline is that of Nick – especially in the second and third chapters. Alice does such a great job of showing the confusion that many bi people go through when they have that first crush on someone of the same sex, and I love that Charlie is accepting and willing to help Nick understand the feelings he’s experiencing. There is a part where Nick is googling about feelings for both genders and honestly, which bisexual hasn’t done this when trying to figure out what’s going on.
My favourite scene from the comic is Nick and Charlie’s first kiss (such a sweet moment!) The comic doesn’t have a focus on homophobia (besides a few background subplots) but this first kiss tells you everything about how homophobia (even incidental) has shaped these two characters. At the same time though, the style of the comic softens these issues and you’re just reading about two people falling in love.
We’re currently well into chapter 5 as I write this review, a chapter which includes a story around Charlie and his eating disorder. While this could be triggering to some readers, Alice is really clear at the start of each post if there’s material that could potentially trigger a reader. I love how over the comic we have flipped from Charlie helping Nick with his sexuality and how we see Nick struggle to know how to help Charlie with his ED. This feels so realistic to anyone who’s been there as a loved one copes with mental health issues, feeling helpless but wanting them to know that they are there for them.
I also really like reading about Charlie’s group of friends, including lesbian couple Tara and Darcy, and my personal favourite Elle, a trans student who previously went to Charlie’s school – her budding romance with Tao is so sweet.
If you’re looking for a soft romance story between two adorable boys and their group of awesome friends, definitely check out Heartstopper – it will lighten your lockdown mood!
You can read Heartstopper free here on Tapas or buy a hardcopy of volumes 1, 2, or 3 from Waterstones, Amazon and Book Depository.