Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting--working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she's asexual). Alice is done with dating--no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.
But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).
When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.
Description taken from Goodreads
I wanted to read this book from the moment I saw that the main character is asexual. I think that may have inadvertently caused me to hype it up too much for myself because I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected to.
Let me start by saying that the representation in this book is great. I loved the way Claire Kann illuminated Alice’s challenges in conceptualising sexual attraction, understanding her body’s physiological reactions, and how these things fit with what she knows about herself. I learned a lot in terms of my asexual curiosity. One of the things I respect a lot about this book is that it validates the idea that it’s perfectly fine to put sex out of the equation in a romantic relationship. Much of what I’ve read online highlights an asexual person’s ability to have a sexual relationship with their partner and I think it’s so important that Let’s Talk About Love places an emphasis on the opposite being true as well.
But almost everything else about the characters annoyed me. Alice and her friends came off as being very immature a lot of the time. While Alice’s almost toxically overbearing family explains this to some extent, this relationship dynamic added to my annoyance. Takumi has moments where he's more a creepy space invader than a valid romantic interest.
Other reviewers have eloquently discussed the microaggressions illuminated by Claire Kann in Let’s Talk about Love, but I’m going to come in here like a bulldozer because I honestly cannot believe the brazen racist bullshit Alice has to deal with. Although I vaguely knew there was a tendency towards backwards social mores in the USA, Let’s Talk About Love made me realise this is probably more prevalent than I realised. Just writing about it now makes me fume, but a book review is probably not the best place to get fired up about bigotry.
This book improved past the halfway point and I’m glad I kept at it. The ending was satisfying, in particular because of how much Alice had grown as a person. The dynamic between Alice and Takumi is heart eyes, this is my squishy levels of adorable, but precisely because it achieves a good balance of flirting and friendship.