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What: Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

Who: HarperTeen

When: March 28th 2017

How: A copy of this novel was provided by HarperCollins for review via Edelweiss.

What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.

But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.

Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…
She has to confess why Carys disappeared…

Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets.

It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness.

Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.

I don’t even really know where to begin writing this review. Do I start with the fact that I have hardly ever related to a main character so much in my life before? Do I start with the fact that I read it in just a few hours? Do I start with how much I loved even the bits I didn’t relate to? I’m not entirely sure. So if this review is just an incoherent blob with one message of READ THIS BOOK NOW then forgive me.

There is such importance in seeing yourself reflected in the books you read. Seeing yourself in characters – in their loves, in their relationships, in aspects of their lives – is something that gives such a sense of belonging. Of you are not alone. Of you are not other. It says that you are not the only person that feels this way, looks this way, identifies this way, acts this way, has life that goes this way. And when you don’t see yourself in fiction then there is a certain loneliness that comes along with it.

Before I started reading Radio Silence I had actually been thinking about how few characters I had really seen myself in, the most relatable being Cath from Fangirl. So when I tweeted about asking for books with great mother-daughter relationships – just one aspect of my life that I wanted to read about – quite a few people recommended Radio Silence. I knew that I had a review copy, and that trusted blogger friends had loved it so I decided it would be the next book I read. And not only did it have a mother-daughter relationship that reminded me of my own, it had so many other things that I related to, as well.

Instead of telling you my life story, and giving you more information on me than you really need to know, I will just say this. That reading about a character who shared so much with me, that I saw myself in so much, that cared about the same things that I do, that loved people the same way I do, that even dressed the some way I do … it was incredible. And it was moving. And it was something that has only happened to me once before.

And it just goes to show that people who say “it’s just fiction” when readers are asking for diverse stories, and asking to see themselves in fiction have no idea what they’re talking about (probably because they’ve seen themselves in more books than they can count). Seeing yourself in fiction when you have never (or rarely) seen yourself in fiction before is an ~event~. It is amazing and incredible and emotional and affirming and just downright good. So don’t ever let people say that it’s just fiction. Because this fiction can affirm the fact that you are you, but you are also not alone.

Radio Silence was more than just that, though. It was a story of friendship, and discovering yourself, and not knowing what future you want but knowing that you future you thought you wanted isn’t it. It’s a story about growing, and changing, and seeing people in a different light. It’s a story about fandom. It’s a story about being alone but finding that one person who just gets you. It’s a story about being different but finding the people you can be different with. It’s a story about art, and passion, and being scared. It’s a story about the rules and expectations that society puts on teenagers. It’s a story about being you. It’s a story that is really, really beautiful. It’s a story that you should read.

© 2017, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning: suicidal themes, absent parent, domestic violence (physical and emotional), death of a pet, use of ableist language, and bullying in this novel

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Posted on: March 24, 2017 • By: Chiara

27 Responses to Radio Silence by Alice Oseman: Seeing Yourself in Fiction

  1. This book has such a beautiful cover and I have heard amazing things about it. I love books that have relatable characters that make you want to keep reading. After reading your fabulous review, I can see that I’m definitely going to have to pick up a copy.

  2. This is a beautiful review Chiara, I can definitely see how much the book meant to you and how you really found yourself reflected in the novel. It’s so important to know that someone out there understands who you are. I have to pick up this book! As for me, I don’t think I’ve ever seen myself reflected in a novel.

    • Chiara says:

      Thank you so much, Jeann <3 It's so incredibly important that everyone gets the chance to see themselves. That makes me so sad :( Even though there were some big aspects of myself that I saw in both Radio Silence and Fangirl neither have perfectly been me, but I guess that's a hard feat for someone to achieve.

  3. Emily Mead says:

    I love this review so much <3 And it's true – fiction is incredibly important. I'm the same as you, I have very rarely seen myself reflected in books, and I'm always searching for books like Radio Silence, where it just seems like the author GETS IT. And Alice Oseman totally gets it.

    An incredible book from an incredible author. Glad you loved it <3

    • Chiara says:

      <3 <3 <3 I was starting to think that after Fangirl there just wasn't going to be another book I related to so much, so I'm incredibly thankful that this book exists! Alice Oseman got it SO WELL, and it's made me excited to read Solitaire, and whatever other books she releases in the future.

      You had a big impact on me reading this, Emily! So thank you <3

  4. AHA so good to hear you enjoyed this Chiara! I am super excited to read this and recently borrowed it from the library so I cannot wait to get into it! I’ve heard such fantastic things about it including how diverse it is! Thanks for the fantastic review! <33

  5. I couldn’t agree more with your review! I absolutely adored this book, and at several moments was just struck by how much I could relate to Frances. It’s one of the only contemporaries I’ve ever truly related to (the other is The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli).

    I really hope people pick this up when it releases in the U.S. because it’s so brilliant.

    • Chiara says:

      I’m so glad you were able to relate to Frances, as well! It’s so special to find those characters that share your traits and experiences.

      Me too! I want more people to fall in love with this book.

  6. AFDJKSALD I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH I CAN’T EVEN. I read it in like just a few hours too which surprised me because it’s about 500 pages?!?? But Aled and Frances are the most beautiful and relatable characters I’ve read in such a long long time. Precious little geeks of glory. <3 I'm so glad you enjoyed it!!

    • Chiara says:

      It didn’t even feel like a long book, and if anything I wanted even MORE from this book. I can’t believe I had to say goodbye to Frances and Aled :( I’m glad you liked it, too, Cait!

  7. Being able to relate to basically every aspect of a character makes it so much easier to form an emotional connection to them and the story. Those books always hit you the hardest and leave a lasting impact. Especially when it also has an important theme like this one sounds like it has.

    Alice Osman’s novels have been on my TBR for a while, and I think I need to make more of an effort to get my hands on a copy of them!

    • Chiara says:

      Yes, the emotional connection is definitely more present when you see yourself in the character because you can relate to the things that they’re going through!

      I hope you get this one soon, Bec! It’s incredibly special.

  8. I’m so glad you loved this one – I really want to read it too! It’s great that you were able to find a character that you related to SO much. I think Cath from Fangirl is one of the few that I really relate to as well. I love books where I can see myself and everyone should have that experience. You’re totally right – it’s not JUST fiction. It matters.

    -Lauren

    • Chiara says:

      It was really special to read a character that I related to so much – I thought Cath from Fangirl would be it! It’s so important for everyone to have the opportunity to see themselves in the books they read. I hope you read and love this one, Lauren!

  9. Stormy says:

    I loved this book too, and it was a complete surprise, especially since I didn’t really understand what it was about before reading. I totally agree with all your points, especially the friendship. It’s such a complicated friendship, but it’s so deep & meaningful too. It’s not the most feel-good portrayal of friendship, but it’s one that resonated with me a lot. I also appreciated how much this book focused not only on fandom & internet culture but the entitlement that can come along with it in an age where content creators are seen as so accessible. I definitely think it was one of the most up-to-date portrayals of internet culture that I’ve read.

    • Chiara says:

      Friendship is never straightforward and without its bumps, so I loved the imperfect relationship between Frances and Aled. It was beautiful. And I totally agree with you about the depiction of fandom. I think perhaps because the author si young and has grown up with it the portrayal feels more organic!

  10. Oh, love, I’m happy beyond words that you found yourself so deeply in this book. I too will join the chorus saying that Fangirl was an utter gem for me – it was the first book I ever read with an MC that was so similar to me, & I wouldn’t trade that feeling for the world. Books like that are vital & should not be let go of. I am so glad this one gave you that same feeling of homecoming. <3

    • Chiara says:

      Fangirl is definitely the other book that I have found myself in, just in entirely different aspects to Radio Silence! I am so thankful for this book, and I think you would enjoy it, too, lovely <3

  11. Greg says:

    Thanks for a great review, I really want to read this one. Finding your passions, the expectations put on teens- those are such important topics and it sounds like this one handles those so well. Can’t wait to read it.

  12. I think this review is great and I agree with you about relatable characters being very important in books and I’m glad you were able to relate so much with Radio Silence. I’ve heard of this book before and now I’m really looking forward to reading it because of your review.

    • Chiara says:

      Thank you so much! I’ve hardly ever related to a character so much, which is one of the reasons I loved this book a lot. I really hope you end up reading and liking this one, Kyla :D

  13. WOW. I am so glad you liked this so much Chiara! It sounds absolutely amazing. It’s always great when you’re able to really connect and relate to the main character. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

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