CW’s: Parental Abuse, Depression, Suicidial Thoughts
Representation 🌷 Biracial (Ethiopian/White) Bisexual MC, Demi/Gay MC
Frances Janvier spends most of her time studying.
Everyone knows Aled Last as that quiet boy who gets straight As.
You probably think that they are going to fall in love or something. Since he is a boy and she is a girl.
They don’t. They make a podcast.
In a world determined to shut them up, knock them down, and set them on a cookie cutter life path, Frances and Aled struggle to find their voices over the course of one life-changing year. Will they have the courage to show everyone who they really are? Or will they be met with radio silence?
“I wonder- if nobody is listening to my voice, am I making any sound at all?”
The book just gets it when it comes to teens 💗 I have noticed that when I read, I Was Born For This as well, as Alice Oseman just knows how to write realistic, authentic teens, probably because she is quite young as well. I was really impressed by how real the main characters Frances (whose POV we get) and Aled are. That’s why I also could connect to them throughout the course of the book and care about their story.
➡ Frances is a self-declared ‘study’ machine and pretty much only exists on schoolwork, so much that she is School Frances around her friends. Speaking of them, they don’t really get Frances and she cannot be herself around them, so these are shallow relationships that make her quite lonely. In reality, Frances loves art and is obsessed with a podcast called Radio Silence, that she geeks out over on Tumblr. It’s heartbreaking to see her hide her true passion away at school and convince herself that only her grades and academic achievements matter. However, with Aled, she can forget about that for a while and reconnect with her true self. Frances really grew on me and I wanted to tell her how she mattered outside of school so much. Her love for her favorite thing and fandom filled with a lot of tenderness! The internet is her escape and you can see how not having real friends focuses her only on work, with her art being literally the only possible escape.
➡ Aled is a rather quiet guy with anxiety that creates the Radio Silence podcast. That’s how he coped with everything going on in his life and it truly gives him so much strength. He remains anonymous and that’s what enables him to truly bare his soul in the episodes he makes. I love how he talks about being heard in his podcast, as I relate to the feeling of never being noticed due to being anxious and shy. At heart Aled is very soft and a great friend, but he is also struggling with his abusive mom, missing sister and his best friend that he has feelings for. I just felt really sorry for him, especially later when he deals with some pretty bad hate directed at him. I’m not 100% happy with how he lashed out, but I think it made sense for him. Still, he accused Frances of things she didn’t do and really hurt her, yet his apology comes a bit too late, when Frances was apologizing a hundred times before hand.
➡ Daniel & Raine also become more important supporting characters as the book goes on. Daniel gets top grades like Frances and is head boy, which is why they often meet each other – but don’t quite like the other. However, due to Daniel being Aled’s friend, they involuntarily grow closer and find out the other person isn’t as bad as they assumed. Daniel grew on me, when he set out to help Aled, because it showed that he does care and is not always his perfect self. Raine is the only person in Frances friend group that she actually somewhat likes and later becomes a real friend, that she can be herself with. Raine is self-confident and brash, but deep down has a good heart, so she really grew on me!
The friendship between Frances and Aled is beautiful 💗 I loved that there was never even a hint of romance between them or any awkward moment. Their relationship is in the center of the book and not overshadowed by any other romantic relationships and I think that’s beautiful. Rarely have I seen a book dedicated entirely to such a strong case of platonical love, we need more books like that!! I want to read about two people becoming friends, soulmates even and getting to know the ups and down they encounter. That’s exactly what happened here! Frances and Aled connect with each other by chance, but then find out that they work well together and have lots in common. It was heartwarming seeing them growing ever closer together and Frances finally having a friend that completely got her, someone she didn’t have to pretend with and could be someone other as School Frances to. Everyone deserves a person like that. However, there are also ups and down in their friendship, which makes it even more realistic. It’s accompanied by the question of how far you would go for a friend, even if you have hurt each other. Like I said before, I think that Aled wasn’t being the best friend towards the end with the way he treated Frances. It’s complicated because I think he was so freaked out and anxious by what had happened, that he lashed out in panic. Still he could have apologized earlier, especially when Frances was constantly trying to reach out. That rubbed me the wrong way, because it’s not healthy for only one side to be apologizing on a loop, when Aled really hurt her as well.
I loved how this book addressed academic pressure 💗 Frances is putting so much effort into school and it eats her up, dominates her life to the point where she is really stressed out. Her top grades and getting into the best college are what she defines as her priority and goal, while downplaying what she really loves to do. I so get that, because society teaches us that only academic success makes your life worthwhile and the huge emphasis on grades can totally burn teenagers out. They are told they are only worth something if they get into college (never mind that there are other options, that are just as valuable) and the kids that are not good at school (like e.g. Carys) are left behind. We see how Frances only defines her self-worth through her grades and slowly comes to realize that this isn’t a healthy habit. Still, she feels like that’s the only thing she is good at and that if she doesn’t reach her goal, it was all for nothing. I truly understood her viewpoint and liked that the book explored the ability to change, as your life isn’t set in one direction.
The podcast stole my heart 💗 Highkey want to listen to more podcasts from now on, because I rarely do that. I LOVED getting a glimpse at the Radio Silence podcast – it’s about an apocalyptic world with a person stuck in a university building, because it is totally something that I would listen to myself! It‘s just right up my alley and I loved that the podcast focused so much on getting heard and if you’re even here if no one listens to you. Every episode starts with “Hello, I hope somebody is listening” and that really got me. I wish the podcast was real, because I feel like I could connect to it so much. That’s why I was 100% with Frances and how much it mattered to her!
Special shoutout to Frances Mum 💗 I love it when books have actual good and present parents, because I can gladly relate to that and love seeing a book highlight a familial relationship. Frances Mum was honestly the best, she is so supportive and understanding of her daughter, always wants the best for her. She’s the cool mum. I love how Frances and she are also friends and spending a lot of time together, because they have such a close bond. That really reminded me of my relationship with my mum, so I was their interactions always warmed my heart!
“Everything’s better under the stars, I suppose. If we get another life after we die, I’ll meet you there, old sport…”
Have you read Radio Silence? What is your favorite Podcast? 💗