Coffee Talk: Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

“Hello, I hope somebody is listening”

Alice Oseman, Radio Silence

Radio Silence is my favorite YA contemporary book. There’s a big heavy statement for a bookworm to ultimately say, but there it is. I absolutely love this book that I do not even know where to begin. This was such an excellent story about making friends, exploring sexuality, and taking life by the balls and saying “I’m in charge”.

about radio silence

What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

Frances is been a study machine with one goal. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside. Then Frances meets Aled, and for the first time she’s unafraid to be herself.

So when the fragile trust between them is broken, Frances is caught between who she was and who she longs to be. Now Frances knows that she has to confront her past. To confess why Carys disappeared…

Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.

Engaging with themes of identity, diversity and the freedom to choose, Radio Silence is a tor de force by the most exciting writer of her generation.

“I wonder- if nobody is listening to my voice, am I making any sound at all?”

Alice Oseman, Radio Silence

How’s the brew?

I’ll be honest, I’m a huge binger. Once I find something that I absolutely enjoy, (from authors, to music, directors, movies, you get the idea) I obsess over. So, when I found Kat (@paperbackdreams) on youtube with her refreshing humor and content, I was hooked. I binged her videos and was brought upon her obsession with Radio Silence.

And because in almost all of her videos, she couldn’t shut up about Radio Silence, I decided, it was time to read. Now, I have quite a few bookstore options where I live, and my work allows me to visit plenty of areas with bigger stores. And would you believe, around the metro, I couldn’t find a single copy of the book. Not. A. Single. One. And that was hella frustrating. So, I resorted to my good ol’ friend, Book Depository. The wait was killing me and I absolutely had to read Radio Silence. And the book gods heard my prayers, the book was available on audio on Scribd. I started reading in May, which was somewhat great timing for me and finished it right after my birthday.

The audiobook was really quite exciting, it’s a full cast and the voice actors were really great at telling the story. It was so immersive and I felt as if I was there with the Frances and Aled. As if I was Frances’ friend and she was telling me the events of her high school life. It was very dynamic and animated that I really suggest reading the audio as well. You can even read the physical book with the audio just for maximum effect.

My problem with audiobooks is that sometimes, I have a tendency to tune out the words and after a while, I have to tell my brain to actively listen. But because Radio Silence had such a fun narrator, I really enjoyed listening to it and actually ended up stopping what I had been doing just to listen. Aside from the engaging audiobook, Alice Oseman wrote this book in such a simple and yet complicated way. There was a basic premise, where Frances is determined to be Head Girl and go to Cambridge, and is completely obsessed over a podcast called Universe City, then she becomes friends with the maker and writer of the podcast called Radio. But beneath this top layer is complex roots that tackle friendships, individuality, sexuality, mental illness, expectations, and so much more.

“Every time I thought I’d worked out what I really enjoyed, I started to second-guess myself. Maybe I just didn’t enjoy anything anymore.”

Alice Oseman, Radio Silence

pouring a steaming cup

So, we get to the possibly spoiler-y parts as I gush about my favorite characters, particular details about the book and plot. But I will put spoiler warnings, I promise.

The number one thing that stood out to me about this book is the diversity. Radio Silence is practically the book that has the most colorful characters ever. We have Frances who is biracial (Ethiopian-American), Aled who is getting to know himself and his sexuality, Daniel who is a Korean immigrant, Raine who is an Indian, there is a whole lot of sexuality exploration in the between these characters. As much as I want to divulge information, it can be considered punishable by law… if spoiling was against the law.

Another thing about Radio Silence is the timeliness and authenticity. It spoke so much truth about the reality of millenials now. And what I mean by that is living in such a digitally wired life. Now, it’s quite normal to make friends on the internet, finding people who have the same interests as you, and sharing your talents online. But there’s also the dark side where people’s remarks and comments are hurtful and mean, how the internet can also be such a toxic place that can be detrimental to your mental health. How someone’s words that they typed into the world wide web can actually affect the person receiving the words thrown out there.

It also discusses the expectations of our parents and elders. As a Filipina millenial, I was lucky enough to have parents who were understanding and supportive. When I was younger, I was always under the impression that I had to be a doctor and I had to please my parents and follow their wishes. Always had the thought that I had to enter the top university in the Philippines or I would be a big disappointment. And I was fortunate enough to study what I was interested, enter the university of my choice, and work in the field that I want. And I know a lot of friends who didn’t have the choice that I had. Radio Silence tackles this sensitive aspect of growing up and making life changing decisions in such a beautiful and delicate way, I just have no words of how much I felt for that moment. I don’t wanna give away too much because, you need to read this book. I swear.

More often that not, I’m not a big fan of YA contemporaries because of Familial Relations. But in this book, Frances’ mother was such an excellent character. She was the supportive, loving and sweet mother that everyone deserves. Frances’s mom accepted and had her daughter’s back for all the decisions she had in life, she was encouraging even. And let’s be real, this is all everyone wants from parents while we were all on our way to adulthood. Another familial relationship is finding your own family. That family doesn’t have to come from blood relations only, you can find family through your friends as well.

Another excellent aspect of Radio Silence is how it encourages us to be our authentic selves and cultivate the multiple aspects of our being. What do I mean by that exactly? Let me explain from a personal point of view. When I was in high school, I used to write short stories and poems. And my mother appreciated that artistic part of me, she even encouraged me to continue writing. My father on the other hand, did not. He wanted me to concentrate on my studies, to be an engineer like him. Through this book, Alice Oseman shows us that we should definitely grow that artistic aspect of ourselves, regardless if we know what we want to be or not. That we should not just be defined by one thing in our lives, and to fight for these talents and art. Aside from that aspect, the book also sheds light on Mental Illness. It’s such a pressing issue, specially with the awareness in this generation. The characters in this book are so realistic that it shows the mutliple aspects of how mental illness affects a person. That it’s ok to love yourself first before giving yourself to other people. When I got to this part of the book, I realized why this book is so well loved because it is so well represented and can mean so much to everyone.

And finally, my most favorite part of Radio Silence is the friendships. The conception, fun and happy times, the struggles, misunderstanding, arguments, the hard parts, disappointments, sacrifices and selfishness. Aled and Frances’ friendship was so beautiful written, and platonically lovely. These two are the exact definition of a platonic soulmate. Alice Oseman showed us that friends can have good times, amazing moments, but they also have arguments and misunderstanding that stem from miscommunication or misreading of the situation. It rehashed a lot of my own issues with former friends and former people in my life, and makes me believe that my platonic soulmate is out there somewhere waiting for me as much as I was waiting for that person too.

I’d like it if someone were to rescue me very soon. Oh, I’d like that very much. I’d like that. I’d like that very much indeed.

Alice Oseman, Radio Silence

the taste and aroma

Radio Silence succeeded on making me happy, sad, nostalgic, lethargic and full. It was definitely a roller coaster ride going through the pages of the book. I’ve finished university and has been working for a couple of years now, definitely a full-fledged adult but the feelings Radio Silence evoked from me changed me in several ways.

After reading Radio Silence, I was encouraged to start writing and blogging again. It made me realize that the only person hindering my healing is myself and it has helped me slowly let go of things I was holding on so tightly to. That sometimes, there won’t be an answer or the answer won’t be what you expect or want to hear and that you should be okay with that. It also made me remember that life will always have good and bad times, and just because you feel like it’s always bad, you should celebrate your successes, no matter how small they are.

This book made me realize that, there are times when you feel how the weight of your world is so heavy, it seems like it will always be heavy but it doesn’t have to be heavy, and it’s okay to share the load. If you’re unsure about the future, that’s okay. You don’t have to. Take your time and make choices for yourself. It also gives me hope that, if you shout or send out words loud enough, someone will listen.

Author: biblioxytocin

Hi, I'm Donna! And I love black coffee, broody and moody characters and great music.

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