I think this book came up in my quest for romance novels that fit my exacting standards, but it’s not a romance book.
I mean, there is romance. But the focus isn’t really on the love interest. It’s more a coming-of-age, hella relatable excellent read.
I love Alice. Although she’s more likely to write a detailed analysis of her favorite show and I’m inclined to the “write fan fic” end, we still geek out in words over our favorite things.
Alice is in college, trying to figure out her life. Her parents are pushing (hard) for her to go into law. Her family is all in law, with at least one sibling parlaying that into a political career. She doesn’t want to be a lawyer, but she doesn’t have a clear enough dream that she feels comfortable pushing back against their expectations, so she’s been drifting along and putting off having to make a choice.
The summer of this book, everything comes to a head.
The thing I really loved about Let’s Talk About Love is how relatable Alice is, especially to college-era Bess who only went to college in the first place because it was Expected. What did I want to do? Not a clue. But my parents believed that college was a must, so off I went. She’s in a place of serious flux, coming fresh off a break up, her parents insisting she declare her law major, her best friends are about to embark on a new life without her, and a new coworker has broken the Cutie Code all to heck.
It’s the perfect storm for a coming-of-age story.
Most of the book’s focus is on Alice’s struggle to understand her feelings toward her new coworker, as well as her fight to get the world to understand her asexuality. Toward the end of the book she has a Big Conversation with said coworker that made me think more deeply about asexuality. I’ve always accepted it as a thing-I-don’t-think-about but support, in that vague sleepy way, but their conversation put it into a new context, namely about all the parts of a relationship that are defined by passion. Does that make sense? If not, read the book. (If it does, also read the book.)
The storyline that resonated most strongly with me, however, was Alice’s discovery of her preferred career and standing up to her parents. Like her, my chosen career isn’t as Serious and Important as some of my relatives would have preferred. Like Alice, however, it makes me happy (mostly. Don’t check my Twitter on editing days.) and her determination even in the face of some serious opposition filled me with light. Facing her new reality with a no-nonsense plan made me feel like I, too, could do The Hard Thing, whatever that was.
If you’re in the market for a coming-of-age story, a liberation-from-expectation story, or a queer/LGBT+ Black woman story, this book is for you. Just writing about it is making me want to read it all over again.