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 sometimes whether you’ve exploded already, like a star, and what I’m seeing you is three million years into the past, and you’re not here anyore. How can we be together here, now, when you are so far away. When you are so far ago? I’m shouting so loudly, but you never turn around to see me. Perhaps it is I who have already exploded. Either way, we are going to bring beautiful things into the universe.”
Alice Oseman’s Radio Silence is without a doubt the most relatable novel I’ve ever read. It’s a book for millennials by a millennial and speaks to the millennial experience. Heartache, anxiety, fear of the future are all things we millennials understand, but we also understand the feeling of powerful, life changing friendships, and platonic love so deep, you think you’ve found your soulmate.
Radio Silence is so important for many, many reasons but I think the main reason why this book will touch so many hearts is because it is the first — maybe even only — novel I’ve read that tells teens, young adults and millennials that university is not the be all and end all. You don’t need to go to university to have a fulfilling life, but our society hasn’t caught up to that sentiment. We face so much pressure to go to university, ignoring the fact that 1. not everyone wants to go, 2. not everyone can afford to go, and 3. not everyone lives in a country or city where the government encourages young people to attend tertiary school.
I’ve been in a privileged position where my government assists university students financially, meaning I won’t have to pay back the government until I get a full-time job and earn over a certain wage. But even so, it wasn’t until last year, when I started my Master’s degree, that I actually realised what I wanted to do with my life. Yep, at the ripe old age of 23, after having been at university for four years at this point, I finally discovered what I wanted to study: publishing. But before that, I completely understood Frances’ (the main character) indecision surrounding university.
Before I started my Bachelor degree, I started university and dropped out after a month or so because I wasn’t enjoying it. At the time, my mental health was deteriorating, my grandmother was passing away, and I was physically exhausted. I just wanted a break because I was, according to my doctor, on the brink of developing chronic fatigue. When I told my parents I wanted to quit uni to take a gap year, they were very scared for me. My mum was convinced I was ruining my life and that I would never go back to uni, but I did the following year after my mental health was, not fixed, but certainly much better. And because I was feeling so much better, both mentally and physically, I actually started to enjoy uni and I put time into it, and most importantly, I made friends. And that’s essentially what Radio Silence is about: living your own life, not the life your parents or society wants you to.
“This hardly qualifies as a distress call anymore—by gods, if anyone was listening, I would have heard from you by now.”
Radio Silence is an ode to all those young people, old people, and coming-of-age kids who didn’t know what they want to do with their life or who didn’t want to go to university. This is the book for you. This book reminds us that it’s okay not to know what you want to do with your life the second you graduate high school, and that it’s frankly ridiculous that society expects you to***.
I’m so thankful that Alice Oseman wrote a novel about this. I feel that so many teenagers and young adults can perfectly relate to Radio Silence. The character I perhaps related to the most was Aled Last. Aled befriends Frances, the main character, when Frances discovers that Aled is the creator of her favourite podcast, Universe City. Aled is such an important character to me due to his mental illness — and I feel that many other readers will also relate to him. Aled doesn’t want to go to university, he wants to continue creating his podcast, but he has a very controlling and mentally and emotionally abusive mother who dictates every aspect of his life. He doesn’t receive any acceptance from the one person who should give him unconditional acceptance, and it honestly breaks my heart.
Frances is, honestly, the best main character. At the beginning of the novel, she is this study machine: it’s almost like she doesn’t have any emotions beyond caring about her school marks — until she gets home and listens to Universe City. Then she comes alive. At the risk of getting even more personal. Frances was basically me in high school. I was a massive nerd, I cared deeply about my marks, and I only really came alive when I was reading or writing — doing something I genuinely loved. And, like Frances eventually gets, I had friends that I consider my platonic soulmates — there’s three of them and they’re still my best friends today.
Frances is also incredibly anxious about her future — she’s stressed and constantly worried about everything. But the one thing that stresses her more than anything is her future and her career. Through Aled, Frances learns that you have the potential to be anything you want to be. You’re not born and then thrust into a certain role in life — you can choose your own future, and if that’s university, great, and if it’s not, that’s also valid.
Oseman’s writing is so beautiful and perfect for the tone of this novel. The perspective is first person present and it’s such a genuine voice of an eighteen-year-old girl. I love every bit of Oseman’s writing — it’s as if her characters are real and sitting right beside me.
He smiled and looked away. “Sometimes I think we’re the same person … but we just got accidentally split into two before we were born.”
Radio Silence is an amazing novel and I’m so happy it’s the first Alice Oseman novel I’ve read. This book has everything: discussions surrounding mental health, loving and accepting friendships, and of course, plenty of queer characters and characters of colour. Frances is biracial (British/Ethiopian) and bisexual; Aled is demisexual; Aled’s sister Carys is a lesbian; Daniel, Aled’s friend, is gay and South Korean; and Raine, Frances’ friend, is pansexual and Indian. Amazing.
***The experience I am talking about is a white, middle-class, Western World experience, which is my own experience. I’m of course aware that not everyone can relate to this novel or the message about university inside of it.