Reviewed in India on 14 June 2021
It was difficult for me to gather the thoughts I had for this book. Like clouds, like aroma….they were floating about and I was loving it, just couldn’t catch them. By the time I had finished reading ‘Loveless’, I was enchanted and I didn’t want to let go. Impression, attachment, bonding, relatability—maybe all of them. Alice Oseman, how delightfully do you write? How beautifully do you sketch your characters…that when I meet them, I feel I am meeting a part of myself.
Let us think of a large expanse of liquid: transparent and viscous. Now let us imagine pouring paint over it—blobs of vibrant paint, all shades and all consistencies. Like wisps of solid smokes, they flow within the liquid creating tendrils of colour. They become fluid in motion, they twist and turn and slowly dissolve. One colour mixes the another and sometimes it becomes an amalgamation no one has seen before. Somewhere the shades are murky, somewhere they are bright and sparkling, in some places they simulate the rainbow whereas in some, they represent a crack into the abyss. Let us think of these wispy tendrils of colours to be our feelings, emotions. Slowly flowing by and gradually descending through the viscous liquid, they craft concentrations never seen before. They accumulate at some places, a thick smog of colours almost taking over the liquid—and they become feelings special from the others. Feelings we all know, feelings we often encounter. They dissipate but accumulate soon—an identity of a specific colour palette.
Alice Oseman knows of all these. Her words glide over these wispy tendrils of plentiful colours, she pauses and takes the feel—how one colour stands out in the vicinity of the other, how some colours skid and some trudge along. She moves around them, inhales them, captures them to their completion, and this is how she knows. She knows humans, plain and simple. She knows us all. She knows this arena of colours, she knows where they mix and match, and she lets us taste the wonderful recipe of some rare concoctions. When Alice talks about what her characters are feeling, she isn’t just talking…she is essentially transmitting, radiating the feeling. Entrancing us all, she crafts ‘Loveless’. In just the first book I have read of her, I’ve been smitten.
Alice also knows that there’s this very gifted trail of colour which swoops in and out of the liquid. It changes shape, appears in forms, enchants and abandons—but its always there, either in our around, waiting and gripping. It is nothing but Love, the bountiful, frisky love—our neighbour of all acts, our dearest ally and ugliest enemy too. Love manifests in various forms, it takes colours and enters us all. One trail of bright magenta, illusory and sensual—love in all of its sensory extravagance—its Romance. Intoxicating and luring, it is the queen of romantic affiliation.
Georgia doesn’t feel romance. She doesn’t feel the connection, the electricity when two souls presumably connect, she is unaware of how it feels to be truly in love with someone—to be romantically attracted. The bright trail of sensual magenta, its monotone for her. But in that absence, there lies no void. Just like magenta isn’t the only colour, her feelings also don’t fall short of any colour palette. Love enters her too, in all shades but magenta and so very beautifully. She wins herself over, vaguely figuring it out until she has truly come to terms with the comedy of errors that gets staged around her. Her identity, her colours, her fascinations and her clusters: she understands all of it, until the gnawing feeling vanishes, until she feels herself again without a doubt. Georgia could be us all, she could be anyone who quivers or remains numb. In Oseman’s words, she not only transforms into a vehicle of all young emotions—but also into a character I personally would keep going back to.
‘Loveless’ could have just been the epitome of asexual and aromantic representation, but it is so much more. As I said, there is no scarcity of colours anywhere. Alice’s book talks about it all—in equal measures of endearment and empathy, and we all keep getting enchanted and drawn into a realm of acceptance, proximity and solace.