Let's Talk About Love
Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting--working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she's asexual). Alice is done with dating--no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.

Let's Talk About Love Details

TitleLet's Talk About Love
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 23rd, 2018
PublisherSwoon Reads
ISBN-139781250138828
Rating
GenreContemporary, Young Adult, Romance, Glbt

Let's Talk About Love Review

  • Kav (xreadingsolacex)
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacts my review of the novel.I’m in need of a setting to give this novel 6 out of 5 stars because h o l y c r a p y’all, this novel changed my life.LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE is a story about a biromantic asexual black woman, Alice, in college, living with her two best friends who are dating, and working at a library where she meets Takumi, who changed her life forever.I requested this ARC as a biroman Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacts my review of the novel.I’m in need of a setting to give this novel 6 out of 5 stars because h o l y c r a p y’all, this novel changed my life.LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE is a story about a biromantic asexual black woman, Alice, in college, living with her two best friends who are dating, and working at a library where she meets Takumi, who changed her life forever.I requested this ARC as a biromantic asexual reviewer because I have never seen those words in any form of media before. N e v e r. When I heard that not only was a book going to be published with a biroace main character, but the main is a queer woman of color, I was sold.And for good reason.Let’s start with the representation. LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE gets representation right. Racial microaggressions are constantly addressed in this novel, primarily through Alice and as well as briefly through Takumi, who is Japanese. As a non-black person of color, I can’t speak firsthand on the representation, but I am aware that the author herself is black making that aspect ownvoices and as a person of color I can attest to some truth to it from my experience. Furthermore, this novel also discusses (though not in these exact words and briefly), how black people have to work twice as hard to get half as far as people with more privilege and that is so true and important to discuss.Then we can discuss how this novel also combats gross sexism. Whereas I do not want to go in-depth as to not spoil anyone, let’s just say there’s a party scene with a drunk male that completely brings to light a HUGE issue in our society. Finally, this novel gets the queer rep right. I heard that the original manuscript had some issues with the ace rep, but I can say with full confidence that this book had none of those issues with the ace rep and I would even go as far as arguing that it is the best representation I’ve seen. Now I can only speak from my own personal experiences, but Alice often discusses her fears as an alloromantic asexual when it comes to dating which I can relate to so much. There is a specific chapter towards the beginning of this novel where Alice talks in-depth about her struggles with asexuality, including the fears of being alloromantic and asexual as well as the possible reactions from people and the fact that it’s ridiculous that she needs to “come out” because the default believe is that she is heterosexual. Now I talk in-depth about the representation, but there is so much more to this novel. Can I just take a moment to note how unbelievably well the characters and relationships are developed? Though I would it’s arguable that their personalities may fall a slight bit into certain classic contemporary stereotypes, there is so much more to them. I loved how you could tell each character had their own character and they had their own individuality. The relationships are developed just as well, if not better. During an emotional encounter between Alice and her best friend, Feenie, I started crying. I started crying because of how realistic this relationship, and all others in this novel, were. And these characters also admit they have flaws. They know they’re not perfect and that is so important.I would say that the writing of this novel is a little basic, but I think that’s understandable as it’s a debut. I think the author was really trying to get into a teenager’s head and whereas she did succeed on that front, the writing had a little less “oomph” as a result.The journey Alice goes through during this novel is remarkable. The person she is at the end is not the same as the person she starts out as and her story is important. It highlights real aspects of so many other teens and young adults out there.I can’t even express to you all what it felt like to see the words “biromantic asexual” in an actual book. I don’t have the ability to express what representation like that for the first time ever means. So you’ll have to see it for yourself by reading the novel.Other notes:• this novel does confront problematic rhetoric as stated in the representation section, so be aware of that• this novel highlights the fact that it is okay to want to be a stay-at-home mom• um...read the book when it comes out in January
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  • Caleb
    January 1, 1970
    I LOVED THIS
  • T.
    January 1, 1970
    **Note: I read the free-to-read version of this book that was posted on Swoon Reads, which may not be the final version of the book.****2nd note: I'm removing my one-star rating after seeing reviews saying the problematic stuff has been fixed in the final version of the book. I haven't read the final version myself, though.**I really wanted to like this book. A contemporary novel about a black ace girl, written by a black woman (who is also ace, I believe)? Yes! I was so happy and excited that t **Note: I read the free-to-read version of this book that was posted on Swoon Reads, which may not be the final version of the book.****2nd note: I'm removing my one-star rating after seeing reviews saying the problematic stuff has been fixed in the final version of the book. I haven't read the final version myself, though.**I really wanted to like this book. A contemporary novel about a black ace girl, written by a black woman (who is also ace, I believe)? Yes! I was so happy and excited that this existed. But sadly, I ended up having pretty major problems with it. Basically, I think Takumi treats Alice badly throughout the story, and is allowed to get away with it because he’s the love interest/Alice likes him. This review will mainly focus on that and the portrayal of asexuality. **Spoilers ahead.**[TW for discussion of sexual harassment in this paragraph] First, when Takumi is flirting with Alice after he’s just started work, he definitely crosses the line into sexual harassment, asking things like “Want to know what I would do with you? To you?” and getting in her personal space. Which is not an okay way to treat a co-worker, especially when they’ve made it clear that they don’t like it! But, somehow, Alice goes from not liking him at all to being best friends with him. I didn’t really understand how they got so close so quickly. What did Alice actually see in him, especially after he was so obnoxious to her? His bad treatment of her continues when he lies to her that he forgot his wallet to get her to come pick him up from a bar. Manipulation is not a good way to start a friendship. And again, he’s being really touchy without having her permission. Later he kisses her on the cheek and then says he’s sorry and that he shouldn’t have invaded her personal space, but this is a pattern with him, doing something like that and then only realizing it might have been an issue afterward, instead of asking permission beforehand. Alice always seems fine with it, though, which bothered me; fiction often portrays a lack of consent as okay, or even romantic, and Alice being okay with Takumi not having her consent before he kisses/touches her plays right into that. [Sexual assault TW for this paragraph] Speaking of that issue, I was flat-out horrified when Takumi pushes Alice against the car and kisses her. After they’ve specifically said to each other that they just want to be friends, this is really not okay! Even if Takumi thought Alice liked him, she said she wanted to only be friends, and he should have respected that. He had also said he was okay with being just friends, but apparently that was a lie. At times I was impressed with Alice and Takumi’s level of communication, because fictional relationships tend to not feature very good communication; I liked that they talked about their feelings toward each other and what they wanted their relationship to be like. But then a lot of that turned out to be lies (they actually liked each other all along, and didn’t want to keep their relationship a friendship), which means it wasn’t actually good communication at all. [Sexual assault TW for this paragraph] The most disturbing part for me was the sex scene. After they kiss, Takumi orders Alice to get in the car—no asking, just commanding. Her dress scrunches up and she tries to pull it down, but he’s already pushing his hands up her skirt. She tries to say something to him, but he kisses her so she can’t speak. This came across as pushy at best, and rape-y at worst. Especially since Alice isn’t really sure how she feels about this happening. Which makes sense, when Takumi just sprung it on her suddenly and never bothered to ask if she actually wanted it! He even admits this later—“I felt terrible after. We’ve never talked about sex and I thought maybe I pushed you too far”—which, as I said before, is a pattern with him; he does something invasive, and only later realizes he should have asked Alice’s permission beforehand. Later, when they actually are going to talk about their relationship, Takumi continues being awful by putting off the actual talking because he’d rather just kiss Alice. She literally keeps saying “We should talk” and he’s basically just like, “Nope, I’d rather kiss you.” And again, Alice lets him get away with this, because it’s supposedly romantic I guess? And when they actually do finally talk, Alice ends up having to reassure him that him pushing her into sex wasn’t a problem. She literally has to comfort him, because he can’t handle the thought that he might have done something wrong. I also was just confused about Alice’s asexuality and her feelings of attraction. At the end, she says she had sex with Takumi because he wanted it, but in the moment, we’re told, “This was happening. And she didn’t want to stop.” She tells Takumi “You’re attractive to me,” which I thought was her saying she’s realized she does feel sexual attraction toward him, but then the next thing she says is that she doesn’t care about having sex with him. And she says she was fine that they had sex, but then she says she doesn’t want to have sex just for him and doesn’t want to feel like sex is something she has to do. So there seemed to be a lot of contradictions, and I just wasn’t sure how Alice actually felt. It ended up kind of feeling like her asexuality was just a device to keep her and Takumi from becoming a couple sooner, instead of like this was an authentic exploration of what it’s like to date as an asexual person. I also was bothered that our ace protagonist experiences arousal-on-first-sight toward the guy who ends up becoming her love interest; exploring the idea that arousal doesn’t equal attraction is good, but it basically read as “he’s so hot even an ace girl’s body responds to him”. And her going along with sex because he wants it (if that is in fact how we’re supposed to read the sex scene), with zero communication about it between them, just felt icky. If this was a romance novel featuring two allosexual characters, I would be disappointed by all this stuff—lack of consent is *not* sexy/romantic, not matter what your orientation—but not surprised. However, I am somewhat surprised to see all of these problematic aspects in a book about an ace character. I would have expected someone familiar with the ace community to handle things like consent, for instance, in a much better way. But it seems like the story was basically trying to be a typical romance novel—strong attraction at first sight, sudden passionate sex, “let’s not talk, I’d rather kiss you”—with an ace character, and maybe some aces will appreciate that, but it really did not work for me. I want more stories about asexual people, but I don’t want them to fall into problematic tropes or put ace characters into disturbing situations in the name of romance.
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  • Anja V
    January 1, 1970
    a book with a BIROMANTIC ASEXUAL WOC as MC???this is right out of my dreams
  • Shelly
    January 1, 1970
    I've heard only amazing things about this book and I'm so happy to say that I was not disappointed at all. Let's Talk About Love is about Alice, a 19 year old struggling to figure out her future, her changing dynamic with her two best friends and trying to understand her feelings for a new co-worker after she swears she's done with dating. It's a wonderful novel that I recommend to everyone not only for the cute romance but for the complex characterization and important discussions about romanti I've heard only amazing things about this book and I'm so happy to say that I was not disappointed at all. Let's Talk About Love is about Alice, a 19 year old struggling to figure out her future, her changing dynamic with her two best friends and trying to understand her feelings for a new co-worker after she swears she's done with dating. It's a wonderful novel that I recommend to everyone not only for the cute romance but for the complex characterization and important discussions about romantic orientation vs. sexual orientation, as Alice identifies as biromantic asexual.I also want to say that I just read a spoilery negative review that was about the novel when it was on Swoon Reads (pre-publication) and it looks like all the problematic scenes concerning the love interest's behaviour have been completely erased and edited from this final version. If you're looking for more great reviews, I encourage you to read Kav's review.
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  • Jeeves Williams
    January 1, 1970
    I only realised I was ace in November 2015, when my friend Lauren introduced me to the community, so I’m fairly new to the concept of asexuality. But then, so is the world. That’s why the asexual community has long been crying out for literature featuring ace characters — the mainstream representation just isn’t there yet. Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann is the first book I’ve read featuring an asexual lead.A black, female, asexual lead — chalk up points for intersectionality!As a book abou I only realised I was ace in November 2015, when my friend Lauren introduced me to the community, so I’m fairly new to the concept of asexuality. But then, so is the world. That’s why the asexual community has long been crying out for literature featuring ace characters — the mainstream representation just isn’t there yet. Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann is the first book I’ve read featuring an asexual lead.A black, female, asexual lead — chalk up points for intersectionality!As a book about asexualityLet’s Talk About Love is fantastic in this respect. It explores all the important aspects of asexuality: split-attraction (the difference between various types of attraction, including romantic, sexual, aesthetic, sensual), arousal vs. attraction, the ace spectrum (e.g. sex-averse and sex-repulsed through to graysexuality), and many other topics. Kann weaves these ideas into her narrative brilliantly.The ace lead, Alice, contends with struggles that will feel and familiar and real to asexual readers, and eye-opening to others. Similarly, other characters are written well in the way their identities and resultant personalities form hurdles for Alice, highlighting some of the struggles asexual people face as square pegs in the round holes of an oft-hypersexualised society.As a book in generalUnfortunately, Let’s Talk About Love wasn’t my cup of tea. It’s very bubbly and cute and fluffy, and not in a way that I enjoyed. It’s definitely crafted well for its romantic genre, though, and will prove important in injecting asexual awareness into its target market.Though most characters function well as challenges for Alice’s identity, and as likeable as most of them are, many of them feel like predictable archetypes. And a lot of the secondary characters are underdeveloped.Something that I’ve grown quite tired of in a fair few contemporary YA books is the pop culture references. I nod to John Corey Whaley’s Highly Illogical Behaviour as a story that pulls it off, and Ernest Cline’s Armada (read my rant review) as the pit of despair where it all gets laid on too thick and goes to shit. Kann’s story falls into that pit at times, sadly, and it’s distracting and unrealistic. It pushes the characters into unlikeable territory.Ultimately, I would have enjoyed a little bit more closure at the end, and some further exploration of how people in aseuxal–sexual relationships make things work.Though I’m only giving Let’s Talk About Love 3 out of 5 stars, I hope it makes its mark, and inspires other writers to incorporate asexual characters and themes into their work.Note: I read the unedited edition of Let’s Talk About Love for free on Swoon Reads during a prior-to-publication preview period. This in no way affects my review, and I won’t be commenting on things like spelling, grammar, and the general way it’s written.This review originally appeared on my blog, where I post book reviews, vlogs, travel posts, and stories »
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  • Claire (bookscoffeeandrepeat)
    January 1, 1970
    YES, I WON THE GIVEAWAY!I just want to read something with ace rep bc I'm ace.Hopefully this doesn't disappoint.
  • Angie
    January 1, 1970
    I am honestly whimpering over how happy this book made me. GET YOUR PREORDER BUTTONS READY.
  • Marty :} (thecursedbooks)
    January 1, 1970
    I loved every bit of this book.
  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    A super sweet and cute romance (almost too sweet and cute), featuring Alice, who is ace but not ready to share that info with many people. When she falls for Takumi, she struggles with her feelings and wanting to avoid more heartache. Pro: it was absolutely refreshing to read a book with an asexual main character who wasn't a stereotype but an actual human full of feelings, flaws, and awesome taste in media. There's lots of humor, and I loved Alice's best friends and her family. Con: it felt lik A super sweet and cute romance (almost too sweet and cute), featuring Alice, who is ace but not ready to share that info with many people. When she falls for Takumi, she struggles with her feelings and wanting to avoid more heartache. Pro: it was absolutely refreshing to read a book with an asexual main character who wasn't a stereotype but an actual human full of feelings, flaws, and awesome taste in media. There's lots of humor, and I loved Alice's best friends and her family. Con: it felt like it could have used a bit heavier hand when it came to editing. Alice is a great character, but her head is constantly filled with thoughts and it's a bit overwhelming at times (probably because my own head is always super full). And for a book about a 19 year old and one that takes a real look at sexual drive and the lack thereof, sometimes the tone seemed younger than the YA. Verdict: Definitely worth reading even if it's not an up until midnight page turner. And as light and fluffy as it is at times, the book is also very informative about asexuality and all the many right (and many wrong) ways to talk about it. Alice is as adorable as the cuddles she loves to give and she's a character that will stay with me.
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