Content warning Some minor story spoilers here, fair warning.
I spent a long time thing about this review, and I want to get through all the things I loved about Loveless (please don't see what I did there) first.
The importance of a story like this being told, being available for younger adults (and honestly younger people still), cannot possibly be understated. I'm not aro/ace, but I was a teenager, and I did go to college.
As a guidebook it's nearly flawless. By guidebook I don't necessarily mean steps one would take to get through these situations, so much as a guiding light through the difficulties of exploring romance, sexuality, and self at ages where everything is already so overwhelming, but the expectations piled on top of all of us to have a full understanding of ourselves and to conform is just....this book hit on all of that.
Georgia's journey present a tale as old as time journey for a young person, through a very different prism. The expectations we're asked to set for ourselves based on instructions we're receiving from all around us, leading us to decisions that are quite frankly incredibly damaging.
For me the importance of the story was....yes it was Georgia's discovery of self, but for me it was also so much more than that. It was that discovery could look different for each person. We followed Georgia's, but we also had glimpses into her best friend's (Pip and Jason) stories, and even more views into her college roommate's (Rooney) journey of self discovery.
I'm hating how I'm writing this out, but it was that broadening of topic beyond Georgia's own finding of love and peace of mind, to the idea that each journey is different and fine that led me to feel a little....disappointed at the one aspect of this book I have negative things to say about.
The looming specter of cishet relationships, and their toxicity, never seemed to resolve in the same ways all the other relationships did. Let me preface this last part with saying I absolutely do not think that it was the author's job to do this, just my own view of the story itself.
A lot reviews I saw said similar things "I'm not aro/ace, but" or "I have a friend who is aromantic and I think that helped" and that highlighted for me why the cishet relationship presentation bothered me so much. I believe this is an important book for everyone to read at a younger age, decidedly much younger than myself. It's a great introduction to the pain and struggles unique to those in the LGBTQIA+ community, but more importantly how so much of it is the same as anyone else when just the discovery of self is looked at (as it was so strongly in this book). I'm bisexual, so I know how exhausting it can be to have people ask me incessant questions about it, especially when they point out that I'm married. It shouldn't be the job of the individual to be both an ambassador and a guru/teacher for all others. Here's your book, read about these things, learn.
But the cishet representation is alarming. If you present only toxicity, and hurt, and hateful disgusting relationships, those who are in perfectly happy cishet relationships could feel attacked, and not want to read what is otherwise such a beautiful and amazing story of true love. The angst and antagonism to the "norm" is something I totally get, but there were parts of this book that made me feel like the characters now believed that cishet individuals are loathsome fools, and the LGBTQIA+ community is there to save everyone from it. Having Rooney and Pip get together felt unnecessary (and also gave Rooney a free pass to ignore that while her relationship was toxic, she'd made some horrific choices to get herself to that spot), Jason never progressing past his unrequited love felt empty, Georgia's unnecessary fear of Jason's friends was a good point but coupled with everything else just felt like a piling on of this emphasis that the only comfort to be found is in your own community. A lot of that is reality, but this is a story that has grains of truth of peoples experiences, and exaggerates others to make a perfectly happy ending to a heartwarming story.
With all that said, read this book. I would have given it a perfect score but for that last point. This really is otherwise the perfect story to help people understand we're all trying to live out this journey, and it's okay we're doing it differently. Oh one final point, I think all of us could benefit from being basically forced to look deeply not just at our gender/sexuality, but how that plays into our lives and decision making. Too many I know are following a script loosely simply because they were never challenged externally to find out more about themselves because they did the things people were expecting them to do.