CW: quite a few, scroll all the way down here https://aliceoseman.com/extras/conten…
To finish up my review of this delightful series, which will be finishing later this year with a fifth and final volume: things have gotten rough but I think the relationship at the core of these volumes (Charlie/Nick) lacks the strength to handle the weighty issues that Oseman is contemplating.
I will freely admit that I have a bit of bias around stories that involve 16-17-18 year olds having Big Weighty Decisions, but in this case I think Oseman is completely right to show Charlie’s journey. It feels only right to go from highest of high (cute crush likes you back!) to some real lows. That is, after all, what being a teenager is like.
I think, however, that there’s almost a separate book to be had on Charlie’s experiences going through treatment for his psychiatric challenges. As it were, we hear about a lot of events secondhand–Nick is telling us, in the past tense, about a number of months as Charlie’s mental health spirals and gets worse while they wait for a spot to open up in an inpatient setting (hi substandard funding for mental health–didn’t expect to cross the ocean and find you here as well!). We don’t hear about it first hand from Charlie, but you imagine that he’s telling his boyfriend all about it.
But…it’s not a very long relationship. The relationship that Charlie has with his sister, his brother, his parents–those to me seem more important, because Nick did not precipitate Charlie’s mental illness nor was he around when they first came to light. There were others around, who could give a real look into the entire journey.
I’m still going to read the last entry in this series–they are pretty short, fwiw–but I do think that there’s a lot of plot that’s getting chewed through pretty quickly. Curious to see how the TV show might adapt these plotlines!