Margin Notes



Few people are aware that the characters in Heartstopper existed long before Alice Oseman drew the first panel in the popular graphic novel series. In her debut novel, Solitaire, Oseman invented the beautifully complex universe that so many 21st century teens have fallen in love with.

Tori Spring is tangled in a mess of fake friendships and family issues. With such a complicated life and everything only getting worse, Tori can only seem to find solace in her blog. The chemistry of Tori’s situation may seem toxic, but she manages–until a series of Post-Its leads her to Solitaire, an empty blog… and Michael Holden. In the beginning, Solitaire seems to be a harmless organization, but of course, the blog’s impact crescendos, and leads to damage beyond anything anyone could’ve anticipated. Tori is certain that Michael Holden is involved, but she simply cannot understand what his role is within Solitaire and what their goal could be… and as the story progresses, she realizes that Michael Holden may be her only reliable friend. All the while, Tori must deal with her own mental health struggles, but she is determined to keep it together for her brother, Charlie, whose anorexia has left him dependent on her support.

One thing I feel is important to mention about this book is that it deals with quite heavy topics, such as suicide, self-harm, eating disorders, bullying, physical violence, substance use, and depression. I would not recommend this book to those for whom that may be triggering.

This book was a page-turner, drawing the reader in with Tori’s quick, quiet, dark, and sassy humor, and keeping one immersed in the mysterious air of the story and social situations almost any 13- to 16-yearold can empathize with. With an amiable protagonist, and a heart-wrenching plot with a twist at the end, Oseman’s first book is an artful piece of YA literature. All in all, I loved every minute of Solitaire and would argue that it was better than its more popular companion, Heartstopper.  


Joanna Dinan is currently a student at George Street Middle School in Fredericton. She is a competitive singer and pianist who enjoys binging books and writing short stories. Someday, she hopes to be a professional timewaster, procrastinator, and daydreamer, but for now, she does this as an amateur. Her favourite authors include Naomi Novik, Lois Lowry, Rainbow Rowell, and Dr. Seuss.

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