Book Review | This Winter by Alice Oseman


TW: mental health, eating disorder, homophobia

Contains potential spoilers for Heartstopper Vol. 1-4

This Winter is a Solitaire/Heartstopper universe novella that focuses on the Spring siblings, Tori, Charlie, and Oliver, during one Christmas. This particular winter has been difficult for the Spring family, and Christmas doesn’t make all worries disappear. So, when family start arriving, how will the day go? Will the Spring siblings get through the day together?

I read this novella after loving the first three volumes of Heartstopper. I knew that Heartstopper would begin covering some deeper issues, and we see that in This Winter.

Charlie has recently spent time on a psychiatric ward, and his family still have learning and understanding to do. Tori is keen to look out for her brother, but she can’t control everyone around her, particularly with family members who don’t understand how to support Charlie, or those who may be homophobic.

I loved seeing the dynamics and relationships between the Spring siblings in this novel. Seeing how much they look out for one another and love each other was lovely.

I already knew, and loved, the main characters, so that definitely helped me to get into this novella. I was also pleased to see Nick in this novel, and we get to see a bit of what his family are like too.

Additionally, Oseman deals with and portrays the issues faced by the characters with sensitivity and honesty. This is something that I love about Oseman’s work, and although this is a short novella, it is no exception. Oseman’s narrative challenges perceptions of psychiatric wards and highlights how challenging special occasions can be. Her writing is truthful and constructive and her characters give a voice to young people and issues that they may be facing.

I would have liked slightly more resolution at the end of the novel, but I’m sure we’ll get that from the Heartstopper series.

Overall, I highly recommend this novella, although it may be best read as part of the Heartstopper / Solitaire series.


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