reading radio

reasons to read radio silence by alice oseman

  • a contemporary realistic ya novel set in england featuring characters who actually sound and act like contemporary english teenagers!!! yes this is so rare that it does deserve three exclamation marks
  • a really refreshing critique of the social and academic pressure put on young people to go to uni, even if they’re not suited to it
  • a beautiful friendship between a boy and a girl who have a typically tropey meet-cute and then DON’T FALL IN LOVE
  • you know that feeling you get when your heart flutters over an adorable fictional couple? i seriously have FRIENDSHIP BUTTERFLIES from reading this book
  • four of the main five characters are lgbtqiap - including a bisexual protagonist whose story doesn’t revolve around romance and a canonically demisexual character WHO USES THE WORD
  • eta: also three of the five mains are poc!
  • It’s all about friendship and fandom and figuring out who you want to be and doing what makes you happy :’)
The most important thing in all human relationships is conversation, but people don’t talk anymore, they don’t sit down to talk and listen. They go to the theater, the cinema, watch television, listen to the radio, read books, but they almost never talk. If we want to change the world, we have to go back to a time when warriors would gather around a fire and tell stories.
—   Paulo Coelho

okay since some people don’t get it, i’m going to spell it out very clearly for you: i do not want bts to attend billboard music awards because they will not be treated with the respect they deserve.

u KNOW they’re going to be be subject to all this racist bullshit bc they’re in a foreign country and a culture they don’t know, which makes for perfect slander material for everything they do. i don’t want them to go through what people like me, whose parents immigrated here and therefore had no way to connect their children to “classic american” outlets of western culture, or those who are of east-asian descent in general, have to go through every day. and i have the privilege to be an american citizen who is fluent in english.

kpop is impactful to me. it’s not just something “exotic and fun” that i can call myself special for just bc i listen to it instead of typical western pop. i never have & never will see any kpop group as a facet of music, albeit international. yes, i understand the faults w an industrialized music market, but non-asians (specifically white people, please know your place in this discussion) don’t always understand what it feels like to be able to see someone who looks like you become a celebrity and fucking excel at it.

growing up, i used to watch mulan every single day bc the main character was chinese. she was the ONLY way i could find myself in mass media bc i had never seen someone who was “famous” on television w/o them being portrayed in a racist manner or were a side character with a stereotypical personality. i have never been a main character. i have never seen myself get to be the hero. i was always the ching chong ling long, opium smuggler, too-many-teethed, slanted-eyed, flat-nosed, single braided, yellow skinned savage who was either blindly submissive or violent to our White Lead Main Character.

but then? to experience a world where asian idols were the ONLY celebrities there shook me to the core. nobody was white. nobody spoke english. it was all made in korea and the people looked like me and oftentimes came from my country and it was liberating to know that i could maybe achieve something the way all the idols have and when it started to spread it was like people were looking at us differently bc now everyone knows what we can do and have to pay attention to us outside of 4.0GPAs and acceptance into stanford and piano playing prodigies.

i don’t want bts to go to the bmmas because they’re going to be subject to the world i live in. i’ve never owned bts or claimed to know what’s best their group or ever once believed they need me, as a fan, to baby them and prevent them from experience the world in all its flaws, but i’m deadass scared of the shit they’ll get solely for showing up at billboard. again, i don’t know bts and they will never know me, but just know that i’m sorry anyway.

i’m real fucking sorry.

2

Books read in 2017:  Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

I just sort of want to say something before we continue. You probably think that Aled Last and I are going to fall in love or something. Since he is a boy and I am a girl. I just wanted to say – We don’t. That’s all.

Let’s be real, in a time before the internet people didn’t have more adventures and make more meaningful connections. They watched TV and listened to CDs. Before that they listened to records and read magazines. Before that they listened to the radio and read bad dime novels. Before that they embroidered or some shit.

People have been staying inside and ignoring other people for as long as there have been buildings. 

Dear Night Valeans,

This is a PSA because I think it would be so terrible for WTNV fans to miss out on this amazing YA book, Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. It’s a book about a girl who got involved in her favourite fictional podcast and the author made no secret that the main inspiration for it is based on Welcome to Night Vale (the MC even has a WTNV poster in her room!). The author even had a paragraph in her acknowledgement page dedicated to Welcome to Night Vale.

Now, you may think that this sounds like a rip off of the podcast, especially if you read the description of the podcast in the book. But the best thing about the book is that it’s definitely captures the spirit of WTNV while telling its own unique story that most people can relate to: being true to who you are, realizing that what people want for you may not be the best thing for you, and finding your own people who can accept you for who you really are.

Furthermore, the book and characters are incredible diverse and when I say diverse, I mean really diverse:

1) MC is a bisexual mixed-race British/Ethiopian girl, and she uses the actual word “bisexual” to describe herself instead of the more ambiguous “I just like whoever I like.” Trust me, so many books would rather have their characters say that rather than to use the actual word. Also, the author did not use any love triangle to as a plot device to prove her bisexuality. She says she’s bisexual, so that should be enough.

2) There are two other gay characters and their sexuality was accepted without judgment, although there are discussions on why it’s not easy to come out to everyone.

3) Two of the characters (including the MC) are mixed POC and they have a discussion on how they regret not being in touch with their heritage due to being born in UK. Also another character is Indian and she’s more in tune with her cultural heritage.

4) All the main characters are NOT straight. Seriously, when was the last time you’ve read a good, well-written non-heteronormative book? Other than Francesca Lia Block’s brilliant Love in the Time of Global Warming of course. 

5) The main character is Frances and Aled. A boy and a girl. THEY DID NOT FALL IN LOVE (this is not a spoiler, there is zero will-they-won’t-they plot). In fact, after we finished the Meet Cute scene there is a special chapter in page 85 where Frances gives the reader a heads up that they WON’T fall in love with each other just because she’s a girl who met a boy. Also Aled declared that he’s platonically in love with Frances and Frances thanks him for saying the boy-girl equivalent of No Homo. THEY’RE SO CUTE GUYS.

6) The best and rarest thing: there is a genuine and honest discussion on asexuality. I repeat, there is a genuine and honest discussion on asexuality. Seriously, what other book does that, especially YA book?? There is a discussion on asexuality, demisexuality and also the burden of not knowing that your partner is asexual which will put strain in your relationship and this is why visibility and awareness is important people. It blows my mind that Oseman even went there and she deals with asexuality with kindness and sensitivity that the issue deserves.

You would think that all of this makes the book preachy and try-hard but it’s not, these facts are just part of the characters and not shoved in the readers’ faces and incorporated to show that the world and the people in it is so diverse and does not fall within the trappings of society’s binary expectations. 

I always wondered if I should find other podcasts to listen to other than Welcome to Night Vale, but the fact is there is nothing quite like Night Vale, with its truly diverse, female-friendly characters and incredibly clever plots. Similarly, I have never read anything quite like Radio Silence, and I hope to see more of this kind of writing and I’m forever thankful for WTNV for inspiring a generation of new voices that will not not be limited by the trapping of heteronormative, cliched storytelling.