This review contains spoilers.
“I am not afraid, said Noah,
I was born for this,
Born to survive the storm,
Born to survive the flood”
Published: 2018, by Harper Collins Children’s Books.
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Contains: Mental Health, Mental Illness, Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Suicidal Thoughts, Alcohol, Blood/Gore, Addiction
‘I Was Born For This’ tells the story of Angel Rahimi, a dedicated fan of The Ark – a teen pop-rock trio. Her life revolves around the band, the fandom being her happy place.
Jimmy Kaga-Ricci is the frontman of The Ark, living the life he’s always dreamed of. However, after someone leaked a photo of him and band-member Rowan, in an embrace, his life became a nightmare.
I fell in love with Alice Oseman’s work after reading Radio Silence earlier this year, loving her narrative voice and how easy it was to read her novels. ‘I Was Born For This’ was no exception.
Alice Oseman’s writing style is simple, engaging and relatable. The narrative switches between Jimmy and Angel, describing the week-long scenarios between the two sides. Rowan and Jimmy were a popular ship between the fandom, meaning Angel was ecstatic when the photo was released, before the narrative switches to Jimmy’s mental state at the news. This was a powerful technique, emphasising the different lives the pair lead and how one simple mistake can affect them both in different ways.
The Ark as a group of characters were impossible not to love. Jimmy’s mental health and personality was incredibly important representation to me. His struggles with anxiety were presented respectfully, managing to put difficult emotions into words and finally being able to read exactly how it feels without appearing over-exaggerating the situations. Although, there were times where Rowan, Lister and Angel explained their confusion, no one was disrespectful towards his health. Jimmy’s relationship with Rowan was a beautiful friendship, the pair being comfortable with another and supportive of their decisions and struggles. Also, although Jimmy was a fairly insecure character, the one side to him he appeared comfortable with was the fact he was transgender. This was refreshing to read, being so used to stories where characters had to battle to except these sides to them.
However, my personal favourite character was Lister. He was initially introduced as the reckless member of the group, living a glamorous, wealthy lifestyle. However, with the development of his character, his own mental state and struggles were revealed, making his character more realistic to me. Although, I feel as if Lister’s alcohol addiction wasn’t explored enough, simply revealing it; it wasn’t resolved or accepted by the climax of the book. However, the LGBT representation within the novel was beautiful, explaining the struggles teenagers face doubled by being thrust into the limelight at young ages.
Angel’s character, however, was one I couldn’t delve into as much as the others. Her character seemed to explore fandom in such an intense way; Angel cared about nothing but The Ark. After the decision to spend a week away with an internet friend, who she met after a common interest with the band, her and Juliet stayed at her grandmother’s house during the week of The Ark’s concert. Juliet was clearly struggling with personal issues, yet Angel’s constant disregard of that was frustrating. During The Ark’s meet and greet, Juliet was distant, and Angel’s only thought was ‘maybe she’s nervous’ before her attention returned to the band. What? Why wouldn’t she talk to her or offer comfort? It made no sense to me, and took away the realness of her character slightly.
The diversity within the novel was one of my favourite elements, having characters of Nigerian and Muslim backgrounds. Those backgrounds were explored in depth, explaining their childhoods and religion in a respectful way. Within YA fiction, it’s unfortunately uncommon, so I loved reading it here.
Overall, as expected this book was a wonderful, easy read. The characters and story-line resonated with me, and is one I’ll definitely return to in the future.