Genre: young adult contemporary, lgbt
The norwegian cover.
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.
Rating out of five: five
I loved this book, it’s going to be one of this year favourites and be reread many times. It made a bold choice, like Oseman seem to do, in placing the book in this decade and referencing movies and popculture. It also brings out very time-defining characteristics like questioning sexuality through research, celebrities, rise of podcasts, internet and fandoms. Most of all this book is about wanting to be heard, to be seen for who you are. Which is easier with the help and support of friends.
the characters & writing
None of the characters are always in the right, which is always interesting. The main character Frances tries her best, I would say, but at one point she realizes she hasn’t been paying enough attention to the people around her and their struggles. The writing seems very honest, it’s very straight forward as well. Carys, the bestfriend, is going through shit and Frances tells that story in between the right-now action of Frances and Carys’ brother Aled starting to get along and find shared interests (like the podcast). Frances believes that she made a mistake, which partly led to Carys disapperance, and trying to not make a smiliar mistake again colors the rest of the book. The friendship between Frances and Cary is strange and reletable, Frances admits that she hated Cary for having it all figured out, but loved her for being so perfect.
the podcast universe city
I wasn’t so sure about the podcast part of this book before reading it. I love podcasts, but in general at some point writers could’ve just made the podcast in real life and not have us read it every awkward break or info dump. This book is centered around the podcast in that Frances and Aled finds each other through the making and fandom of it, both things done really well. There’s a chapter where they are having fun outside camping and makes what Aled considers the worst episode ever, but it was all so visually told and really brought out a certain feeling in the book.
Feelings reading this book: interest in where the podcast was going, glee over Frances becoming more comfortable, relatable af moments and strong hate for Aled and Cary’s mother.
my fav moments
- Frances discussing being bi and relationships of the Universe City podcast and Aled saying the world might be a bit tired of boy-girl relationships anyway. Them geeking out in general and allowing themselves to be “weird” aka being very passionate about things and fandom.
- Going to save Aled from university. Also his mom was truly awful in one of the probably worst ways physiologically, because so many outside the house thought she was great. Reading Aled scream after going over to his mother to figure things out made my skin crawl.
Finally, I hated Cary when they all met her. I was certain she didn’t want to be found, but the way she reacted … She had worked out a pretty okay life for herself considering she escaped to the city with barely anything, though. She’d tried to leave her past behind, which I can understand. My immediate hate came from having a little brother though, but she didn’t have a perspective to mind to predict how her brother would be treated when she left. There’s a lot taken up in this book and I appreciated it.