What: Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
Who: Swoon Reads
When: March 13th 2018
How: A copy of this novel was provided by Pan Macmillan Australia for review.
Alice is secretly asexual, and that’s the least important thing about her.
She’s a college student, has a great job, amazing friends, and is fine being single—nope, that’s a lie. Alice wants rom com-grade romance: feels, cuddling, kissing, and swoons galore—as long as it doesn’t lead to having sex.
After her last relationship ends with soul-crushing parting words from her ex, Alice swears off relationships for good. Stick a fork in her, she’s done. Everyone Alice tries to date is so sure love and sex have to go together, and there doesn’t seem to be any way to convince them otherwise.
But when Alice experiences instant attraction for the first time with her coworker Takumi, she doesn’t know what to do. If Alice tells him the truth, it can only end in heartache. But there’s something about Takumi that makes him worth the risk…
I wanted to love Let’s Talk About Love. I really did. But I just… didn’t. And here are a few of the reasons why:
1) Alice is a literal child
I know some people have said that’s she’s cute or “adorkable” but to me, it just felt like she was childish. Every time an important conversation came up, or someone said something serious Alice would giggle. Literally every time. And whenever this happened when Takumi – her love interest – was telling her how he felt about her, it was like the author was saying ‘oh look, childish ace can’t respond to admissions of feelings’ which felt really off to me. I don’t know the author’s intentions, but that is honestly how I felt whenever Alice laughed and giggled at Takumi’s sincere admissions of feelings and/or compliments. If it was maybe once or twice I could handle it. But not every time.
2) There was no relationship development
So Alice and Takumi become bffs forevs but we never see one iota of that. And then Alice will be all like: we went up in a hot air balloon!!1! And I’m just sitting here like… wtf? That didn’t happen. Because it didn’t. It happened off page, which is the most subpar execution of relationship development out there. And like the giggling, this happened all the time. The relationship between Alice and Takumi was almost entirely based on off page interactions, which made it hard to really feel for the two of them together.
Takumi was… weird. Sometimes I thought he was lovely and at other times I thought he was not so lovely. There were many instances of Takumi and Alice cuddling and Alice sitting on Takumi’s lap and Takumi staring into Alice’s eyes. And then he’s all: nope, can’t be with you. This annoyed the shit out of me because it felt like he was leading Alice on before that, and then hightailed it when she actually confronted him about it. Also, taking pictures of someone sleeping is creepy af, no one can convince me otherwise.
4) Alice’s judgement of her ex
This point is in no way a defence of the pretty acephobic stuff that Margot said to Alice at the beginning. This is about how Alice pretty much demonised Margot for not being ace, and for wanting different things when it came to sex. Margot became The Devil, and Takumi somehow became The Angel, which didn’t make any sense to me because Takumi said almost the same things Margot did but wrapped in a different bow, so to speak.
It didn’t really sit well with me that instead of having problems with the way Margot addressed Alice’s aceness, she had a problem with the fact that Margot liked sex and she didn’t. They’re two different things. Alice didn’t want to be judged for not wanting sex but she turned around and judged Margot for wanting sex. This was a bit too hypocritical for me.
5) The overall book
This book was about asexuality, rather than about an ace person. I know some may disagree with me here but more often than not this book felt like the main character was asexuality, not Alice. Her sexuality ruled this book, and her life took a backseat to it. Which felt like a bad fit because this was not about a character who was discovering they were ace – then I could have understood it. In Let’s Talk About Love it was made very clear that Alice had known she was ace for a really long time. So for the book to be pretty much solely about her aceness was a bit of a letdown. I want a book about a character who is ace, not about ace with a face.
To be honest there’s not much more for me to say about Let’s Talk About Love. I know that for some ace readers it has been affirming, and for others it has been alienating. Unfortunately, I was not really impressed by any one aspect of the book. On the one hand I am glad that this book – with a black biromantic ace girl protagonist – exists, but on the other I’m disappointed by the execution. I think this is one of those times where a reader will have to make up their own mind whether this is the book for them because it feels like people either love it or… don’t.
© 2018, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.
trigger warning panic attack, use of ableist language, sexism, racism, absent parents, non-consensual touching, and acephobia/misia
panic attack, use of ableist language, sexism, racism, absent parents, non-consensual touching, and acephobia/misia