Solitaire Review

Solitaire by Alice Oseman

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary: “In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.

Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.

I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.

I really don’t” (Goodreads).

I can definitely tell this is Alice Oseman’s debut because it doesn’t have the same maturity as Radio Silence, but I loved it? Still? The most special thing about it is that there’s a lot under the surface. In that aspect, it reminded me very much of The Catcher in the Rye. Even the blurb on the front cover calls it “The Catcher in the Rye of the digital age” and I can’t think of a more accurate description. Throughout, there were subtle references to J.D. Salinger’s classic novel, from Michael HOLDEN to Tori dreaming of being caught falling from the cliff like Holden dreams to do in CITR. I recently read The Catcher in the Rye for school and loved it so much, so this was just…really special for me?

Another thing I like about all of Oseman’s books is that there’s a focus on unhappy endings. None of her books end remarkably happy. All three of them are about a downward spiral, things that get worse before they get better, and have endings that are somewhat optimistic in nature, but remark upon mental health. Solitaire does not end happily, but its ending is important and valuable. This book is about a girl who tries so hard to save other people, like Charlie, that she doesn’t realize she needs saving herself. It’s also about expecting other people to save you, when you’re the only one who can do that. It singlehandedly demolishes the idea that love cures all through both Nick and Charlie’s story and Tori’s own story.

All I know is that I’m here. And I’m alive. And I’m not alone.”

At this rate, I’ll read everything Alice Oseman writes. Her novels are so timely, so important. This is a book that a historian could look back upon and say, “Yes. This is the 21st century.” Oseman captures now so well. While some people may argue that this could cause her books to wither out as time goes on, I think the underlying themes will always be relevant. Fandoms may change, technology may change, but the root of human suffering, love, and friendship won’t. Society will always need books that place friendship above romance. Oseman’s books are peak millennial culture and I’m living for it.

As for the romance, I wasn’t entirely expecting it, but at the same time I was. It was so subtle, so friends to lovers, that it worked remarkably. I won’t say who or what because spoilers, but it definitely didn’t stray from showing the importance of friendship above all. While this novel discusses romance a little more than Radio Silence did, it’s certainly about friendship as well. That’s one of my favorite things about Oseman, that her books are first and foremost about friendship, and to expect anything else is foolish.

In a nutshell, I loved this book. It had its flaws, was slightly problematic and crass in the beginning (but it didn’t justify the statements, just made it realistic), but all of that is overshadowed by its importance, its message. I urge you to pick up an Alice Oseman book.

Also, a trigger warning for eating disorders and self-harm. Stay safe, folks.

But books–they’re different. When you watch a film, you’re sort of an outsider looking in. With a book–you’re right there. You are inside. You are the main character.”

-Book Hugger

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