This review is spoiler free.
“Love can’t cure a mental illness.”
Published: 2021, by Hodder Children’s Books.
Genre: Sequential Art, Graphic Novels, Young Adult, Romance, LGBT, Contemporary, Queer, Fiction
Contains: Mental Health, Mental Illness, Homophobia, Eating Disorders, Anorexia Nervosa, Psychiatric Hospitals, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Self Injury, Hospitals
‘Heartstopper, Volume 4’ continues the story of Nick and Charlie in the heart-warming Heartstopper series. Charlie didn’t think Nick could ever like him back, but now they’re officially boyfriends. Charlie’s beginning to feel ready to say those three little words: I love you. Nick feels the same, but he has a lot on his mind – not least coming out to his dad, and the fact that Charlie might have an eating disorder.
‘Heartstopper, Volume 4’ was one of my most anticipated reads of 2021, following on from my earlier binge of the series at the beginning of the year. I knew what was coming, having guessed a little from previous volumes and the direction the story was heading in, but I was no where near prepared for the emotions it would spark.
Charlie’s story develops massively in this volume, highlighting a few of his struggles and weaknesses with the theme of mental health and eating disorders. He’s an incredibly honest person, not hiding his true feelings from his boyfriend, Nick, and eventually sparks enough confidence to inform other people too.
Nick is by far my favourite character of the series, his love for Charlie shining through the pages as he sets out to protect his boyfriend at all costs, including endangering his own happiness at times. It’s admirable to witness and he continues to be the shining light in both Charlie’s life and our reading experience.
However, a newer favourite character would have to be Nick’s Mum, adoring her caring nature and acceptance of her son. Their relationship is very much filled with love and respect, and I adored that healthy relationship that is somewhat uncommon in Young Adult Fiction.
Oseman’s writing is as beautifully simple as ever, directly informing readers of the warning signs for mental health and how to approach the subject when those we care for are struggling. With a page dedicated to UK helplines at the back, it’s wonderfully represented and well-researched. Nick’s concern is one commonly felt, however, he was never alone with the support from his loved ones that insightfully informed readers and made it was carefully pressed read.
Overall, I loved this volume, and can empathise with the struggles mentioned in this story. However, I never once felt unsafe whilst reading, as Oseman’s writing perfectly depicted a mental health issue that was dealt with respect and care.