‘Heartstopper 5’ by Alice Osman Review

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The Heartstopper franchise is the perfect way to expose young people to diversity, inclusivity, and what it is like to grow up, experience first times, and all the awkwardness that comes with it.

At the beginning of the book, one of the main characters, Charlie Spring, turns sixteen. After a year of Nick Nelson and Charlie Spring’s relationship, the two decide to take the next step in their relationship: sex.

The author, Alice Oseman, explores the topic of sex within her comic in a way that is friendly and not too overwhelming for mature teenage audiences. Sex is discussed appropriately, and in a way that is easily understandable, and explores the ideas of  when sex is appropriate, how to practice it safely, and the awkwardness that it may bring to participants. The way the character’s families, school, and close knit group of diverse friends discuss the idea, helps to normalise the practice and explores the hardships that may arise with it. Furthermore, I appreciated the discussion surrounding sex and how it may look different to other people – that is that it is not always penetrative.

Although, it should be pointed out Heartstopper does not blatantly depict sexual acts. But it does helps normalise the process and the conversations that surround it. Which can only be a good thing.

Volume 5 also sees the characters looking to the future. Questions of what a young individual should do after Year 12 are explored through Nick’s perspective. Should he have a gap year? should he go to university? and if so, how should he pick what university to attend? A university that is close to his boyfriend, friends, and family? or should he go to a university that is better suited for him despite it not being close to his hometown? Through this process, Oseman further normalises the hard and life changing decisions that young people are forced to make.

As was the case in previous volumes, Volume 5 continues the themes of diversity, mental health, friendship, and growing up. The Heartstopper comics and tv series continue to be the perfect way to expose mature teenagers to themes of self-identity (sexual and otherwise), sexuality, gender, diversity, inclusivity, friendships, families, mental and physical health, learning about growing up, and experiencing firsts in a way that is healthy and positive to oneself and others.

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Heartstopper Volume 5 is available at the following retailers:

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