Scholastic/Graphix. (Heartstopper: Bk. 1). May 2020. 288p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781338617443; pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781338617436.
Gr 8 Up–Young love—with all its awkwardness, tenderness, and raw emotions—blossoms between two teenagers who appear to be worlds apart. The only openly gay boy in his British all-boys grammar school, sensitive Charlie was bullied when he came out, but things have settled down, and he is seeing someone: Ben, who hooks up with Charlie but isn’t out and won’t tell anyone about their relationship. When Charlie is assigned to sit next to Nick, he begins falling for the older boy. He’s sure it’s hopeless—popular “rugby lad” Nick seems to have more in common with Charlie’s tormentors. But Nick, who has always assumed he was straight, begins to question his identity—and to realize how bewildering and wonderful love can be. Based on a webcomic, this graphic novel centers on two secondary characters from Oseman’s debut prose novel, Solitaire, set before the events of this story. The sweet, two-color, manga-inspired art seems simplistic at first glance, but detailed expressions convey the boys’ longing, uncertainty, and joy. Quirky dialogue (with some profanity) and a font that mimics handwriting add to the adorkability factor.
VERDICT Realistic yet uplifting, this tale of self-discovery will make readers’ hearts skip a beat as they root for Charlie and Nick.

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