Heartstopper Volumes 1 and 2

If you haven’t heard about Heartstopper by now, you clearly don’t know many young people. It’s a successful Netflix TV show, with some of the best, most absolutely faithful casting I’ve ever seen in a comic book-based project. But first, it was a charming graphic novel about two cute boys falling in love.

That’s the quiet way this series is so revolutionary, and how it demonstrates how much times have changed. The angst, minor as it is, is typical of school romances. “Does he like me?” is more of a theme than “I am gay and so my life must be hidden and terrible.” (The older adults among us will remember when that was the only kind of gay character we’d see in media, particularly if they got sick.)


Charlie is gay, and everyone knows it, thanks to a past outing that wasn’t entirely his choice. He sits next to Nick in class one day. Charlie’s a drummer, artistic, while Nick is a rugby lad. They slowly become friends, then more.

Charlie at first thinks he has a crush on a straight boy. Nick realizes he has feelings for Charlie, but he’s assumed to be interested in girls. He begins to question whether he’s bisexual. In contrast, the villain, a selfish bully, is the one who refuses to admit who he is and what he wants. The others want to be true to themselves, aided by supportive friends.

The end of Heartstopper volume 1 is a turning point in the friendship between Charlie and Nick. Volume 2 is much more about Nick’s journey, the politics of coming out, and how other people factor into how public someone wants to be. It’s a quiet but meaningful conflict.

The art is fluid and beautifully captures how cute these two are together. It’s also easy to read, setting the stage well to make their lives seem real. All the emotion’s on the page, and the hand-done lettering feels immediate to readers, as though they’re right there with the boys. This is a love story that so many people will enjoy reading, and I’m so very glad that teenagers have it.

(Review originally posted at Good Comics for Kids.)

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