It’s Pride Month, and I’ve wanted to read Claire Kann’s Let’s Talk About Love since the moment I heard about it. It is an asexual romance, people. I have never in my life seen a book starring an asexual person, never mind one that focuses exclusively on the romantic longings of an asexual person. In a previous post, I said that if I didn’t love this book to bits, I would flip all the tables in the world.
So I read it, and here’s what I’m doing now.
Now, don’t get me wrong—this was not a bad book. Not by a long shot! It was cute, it was genuinely funny, and it really knew its stuff vis-à-vis the struggle of only wanting snuggles. But I did not love it to bits. In fact, it made me kinda mad.
What Let’s Talk About Love is about:
Alice is asexual. Her girlfriend, Margot, can’t handle that, so she breaks up with her, causing Alice’s perfect summer to implode in spectacular fashion. Alice decides that she’ll just forgo love, forever, and die alone. (Alice is a wee bit dramatic at times.)
Then she meets Takumi, a guy so good-looking that he breaks Alice’s Cutie Code™ before they even speak. Alice wants to date him—like, a lot—but will she be able to be honest with him about her sexual orientation? And if she is honest, will he just turn and run the way Margot did?
My thoughts on Let’s Talk About Love:
Let’s start with the good points. Because there are a lot of them, and I actually would recommend this book if you’re a fan of romances, want to know more about asexuality, or just need more queer PoC characters in your life.
Let’s Talk About Love is funny and sweet and cute. It takes care to show how important friendships are. It’s keenly aware of how Alice’s gender, race, and sexuality affect how she’s perceived without hitting you over the head. And it’s really, really dedicated to explaining asexuality in a relatable and accurate way.
And, I’ll be honest, that’s where the book lost me.
Let’s Talk About Love had two things which I found really off-putting. The first was the writing style. Sometimes I found Alice’s little asides funny, and sometimes they were just distracting. Sometimes the Cutie Code™ was fun, and sometimes it was just twee. Sometimes the writing zipped along, and sometimes it delivered such blow-by-blow descriptions that I found myself thinking, come onnnnn, hurry uppppp.
The second thing that bothered me was that Let’s Talk About Love really went out of its way to explain asexuality at every turn. AND THAT, IN AND OF ITSELF, IS A GOOD THING. Asexuality is one of the so-called “invisible sexualities” because it’s little-known, often-dismissed, and constantly fighting for a place at the table. Let’s Talk About Love understood that and it really went to bat for asexuality. It explained it, and tackled all the common misconceptions, and swatted aside nasty comments like, “Sex is what makes us human,” like it was freakin’ Serena Williams going to town on one of those automatic tennis ball-firing machines.
But here’s the thing.
I didn’t think that Let’s Talk About Love was going to do that.
I thought I was signing up for a pretty run-of-the-mill romance where asexuality was no big deal. Let’s Talk About Love made Alice’s asexuality into the biggest deal ever, and that…kind of make me feel like I was engaging in The Discourse™.
(What’s The Discourse™, you ask? It’s the wearying and endless arguments over whether or not asexuality is real, and whether or not asexuals ought to be included in the LGBTQIA+ community. It is the worst. The wooooorst.)
At the end of the day, I didn’t enjoy Let’s Talk About Love because I’d been hoping to read a book where a character’s asexuality wasn’t a source of conflict. It is nigh on impossible to find a story about asexuality that doesn’t view it as a source of conflict or distress.
I thought I was going to get a story with a confirmed ace who was chill about it, even happy about it. But what I got was a story of self-acceptance, complete with all the discussions of validity and brokenness that I spend 3000% of my time hiding from. And that was just not fun.
What queer books are you reading for Pride Month? Are there any that you’re really excited for? Are there any that have let you down?