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How to Be Ace: A Memoir of Growing Up Asexual

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Brave, witty and empowering, this graphic memoir follows Rebecca as she navigates her asexual identity and mental health in a world obsessed with sex. From school to work to relationships, this book offers an unparalleled insight into asexuality. 'When I was in school, everyone got to a certain age where they became interested in talking about only one thing: boys, girls a Brave, witty and empowering, this graphic memoir follows Rebecca as she navigates her asexual identity and mental health in a world obsessed with sex. From school to work to relationships, this book offers an unparalleled insight into asexuality. 'When I was in school, everyone got to a certain age where they became interested in talking about only one thing: boys, girls and sex. Me though? I was only interested in comics.' Growing up, Rebecca assumes sex is just a scary new thing they will 'grow into' as they get older, but when they leave school, start working and do grow up, they start to wonder why they don't want to have sex with other people. In this brave, hilarious and empowering graphic memoir, we follow Rebecca as they navigate a culture obsessed with sex—from being bullied at school and trying to fit in with friends, to forcing themself into relationships and experiencing anxiety and OCD—before coming to understand and embrace their asexual identity.


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Brave, witty and empowering, this graphic memoir follows Rebecca as she navigates her asexual identity and mental health in a world obsessed with sex. From school to work to relationships, this book offers an unparalleled insight into asexuality. 'When I was in school, everyone got to a certain age where they became interested in talking about only one thing: boys, girls a Brave, witty and empowering, this graphic memoir follows Rebecca as she navigates her asexual identity and mental health in a world obsessed with sex. From school to work to relationships, this book offers an unparalleled insight into asexuality. 'When I was in school, everyone got to a certain age where they became interested in talking about only one thing: boys, girls and sex. Me though? I was only interested in comics.' Growing up, Rebecca assumes sex is just a scary new thing they will 'grow into' as they get older, but when they leave school, start working and do grow up, they start to wonder why they don't want to have sex with other people. In this brave, hilarious and empowering graphic memoir, we follow Rebecca as they navigate a culture obsessed with sex—from being bullied at school and trying to fit in with friends, to forcing themself into relationships and experiencing anxiety and OCD—before coming to understand and embrace their asexual identity.

30 review for How to Be Ace: A Memoir of Growing Up Asexual

  1. 4 out of 5

    daph pink ♡

    basically how to be me ?

  2. 4 out of 5

    jenny✨

    10/21/2020: HAPPY PUB DAY! 💜 As someone who has never dated or been in love—and also never had a powerful drive to experience either—I felt so affirmed by reading How to Be Ace. Not gonna lie, when I first read the title I was a little apprehensive about the possibility of upholding a monolithic idea of what being asexual “means.” (Spoiler alert: there is none.) But this book did not subscribe to that notion, and I loved that it touches on different ace identities and experiences, if only briefl 10/21/2020: HAPPY PUB DAY! 💜 As someone who has never dated or been in love—and also never had a powerful drive to experience either—I felt so affirmed by reading How to Be Ace. Not gonna lie, when I first read the title I was a little apprehensive about the possibility of upholding a monolithic idea of what being asexual “means.” (Spoiler alert: there is none.) But this book did not subscribe to that notion, and I loved that it touches on different ace identities and experiences, if only briefly. Like every other sexuality, asexuality is just a simple, shorthand label to help someone express their much more individual and unique experience! This is a heartfelt graphic memoir exploring Rebecca Burgess’ experiences as an asexual person with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). They speak about transitioning from high school to college, attending art uni (Art uni always consisted of students only materializing when they felt like it! —this made me laugh), struggling to find work during a recession, and having phobia-related panic attacks. Above all, Burgess champions the visibility of ace people by sharing the joys and struggles of being an asexual person in a society that does not recognize or have much knowledge of asexuality—which leads to ace folks being stereotyped, misunderstood, marginalized, and assaulted. From @theorah They speak about the overwhelming fear, panic, and sorrow of having no language or point of reference with which to understand oneself. They share tidbits of information about asexuality—including identities that fall under the ace umbrella, ways in which ace folks have and enjoy sex, and the difference between romantic and sexual attraction. They (literally) illustrate the importance and uplifting excitement of having ace representation in media. And they describe how they fell in love (with another ace individual): underscoring not only the difficulties, but especially the singular joys that are unique to ace relationships. I adored the watercolour illustrations and only wish that there had been more panels devoted to education and information (maybe explicit use of the terms “sex-repulsed” and “sex-indifferent,” etc.), and perhaps intersectionality of race and culture (though I understand that this is the author’s autobiography and they are speaking to their own experiences). Bottom line: Real, poignant, and affirming—we STAN challenging heteronormative ideals of intimacy! Thank you NetGalley and Jessica Kingsley Publishers for this beautiful ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cassie

    Currently bawling my eyes out because I felt so seen and validated while reading this. I feel like ace people have a lot of the same experiences, obviously we’ve all had our differences, but we still have to deal with the same stupid remarks people make, the confusion that others don’t understand how someone can’t have sex, and especially be in a relationship and not be sexually active. I’ve been made fun of countless times, I’ve constantly tortured myself by telling myself I was broken, I had t Currently bawling my eyes out because I felt so seen and validated while reading this. I feel like ace people have a lot of the same experiences, obviously we’ve all had our differences, but we still have to deal with the same stupid remarks people make, the confusion that others don’t understand how someone can’t have sex, and especially be in a relationship and not be sexually active. I’ve been made fun of countless times, I’ve constantly tortured myself by telling myself I was broken, I had to be because I was so different from everyone else, I’ve been told that I “haven’t found the right person yet” and have had some really, really bad experiences with being pressured into doing sexual things. And, for the longest time, I thought because of those bad experiences that was the reason why I didn’t want to have sex or be in a sexual relationship. But, I am in a loving and respectful relationship with my partner that understands and is okay with me being ace, and by being with him, I still don’t like the feeling or have thoughts of doing stuff with him in those ways. I’m more emotional and romantic when it comes to relationships. I like hand holding, I don’t mind kissing, and I love cuddles, but that’s as much as I want out of a physical relationship. And I am very blessed to have a partner that I trust with my entire soul, that I truly feel is 100% okay with being with an ace, despite him not being asexual. As explained in this graphic memoir, ace people have different experiences, thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Ace is a wide spectrum of identities. As above, I’ve explained my feelings towards my personal journey with identifying as an ace person. Which, I identify as bisexual asexual, or bi ace. Though, if I wasn’t with my partner, I would be completely okay just vibing alone. I don’t feel as if, for me personally, I have to be in a relationship. I just got lucky enough to find someone that genuinely respects me and accepts me for who I am. If you’re curious about how an ace person may feel/how they may experience thoughts and emotions towards sex and sexual things, or just simply want to get to know Rebecca Burgess as an author, then I highly recommend you pick this graphic memoir up!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lou (nonfiction fiend)

    We live in a world where every time you stop and look around, you will find something that is sexualised that shouldn't be. The idea that 'sex sells' has taken over in media, marketing and Western cultures in general with such a huge emphasis put on how much we should embrace this to be considered 'normal'. This has occurred since the beginning of time, however, it has accelerated exponentially in recent years and we have been completely surrounded by and have no escape from this rampant and ubi We live in a world where every time you stop and look around, you will find something that is sexualised that shouldn't be. The idea that 'sex sells' has taken over in media, marketing and Western cultures in general with such a huge emphasis put on how much we should embrace this to be considered 'normal'. This has occurred since the beginning of time, however, it has accelerated exponentially in recent years and we have been completely surrounded by and have no escape from this rampant and ubiquitous sexualisation from noon till night. Teenagers, in their formative years, begin talking about the opposite gender and sex but those who are asexual feel as though there is something wrong with themselves as they are simply not interested in it. It's high time more people knew what being ace actually means and it be treated like other LGBTQ+ statuses. How to be Ace is, at its heart, a memoir detailing the struggle Rebecca Burgess went through in order to understand why they were different from others around them. It begins with school life where they were bullied terribly for this individuality. It's highly relatable, and I feel this should be an imperative read for all children and also adults wrestling with the idea that they could be asexual. It is a humorous and honest account of growing up and navigating the world as an ace. This is an important book which helped me feel less alone and is reflective of many aces experiences. It is a graphic novel which will resonate with youngsters right through to adults such as myself, especially as people take this journey to self-identity at different times in their lives. I know it would've certainly helped me to understand myself more had I had a book such as this in high school. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Jessica Kingsley for an ARC.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bookishrealm

    This! This was everything. I'm so glad that I picked it up and definitely recommend it as a more accessible companion to Ace by Angela Chen. If you're interested in my full thoughts check out our live show here: https://youtu.be/IXelvteiCtU This! This was everything. I'm so glad that I picked it up and definitely recommend it as a more accessible companion to Ace by Angela Chen. If you're interested in my full thoughts check out our live show here: https://youtu.be/IXelvteiCtU

  6. 5 out of 5

    Maia

    Burgess is an autistic comic author and illustrator based out of the UK. In this, their first full length book, they talk about experiences of growing up struggling with OCD and questions about their sexuality. From a young age Burgess felt out of step with their peers, still interested comics and fantasy novels while classmates began dating and having sex. They went on to study art at college and tried dating a few times, influenced by the dominant narratives about heterosexual romance which fi Burgess is an autistic comic author and illustrator based out of the UK. In this, their first full length book, they talk about experiences of growing up struggling with OCD and questions about their sexuality. From a young age Burgess felt out of step with their peers, still interested comics and fantasy novels while classmates began dating and having sex. They went on to study art at college and tried dating a few times, influenced by the dominant narratives about heterosexual romance which fill almost every aspect of daily life. Burgess graduated university at the height of the 2009 recession and struggled to find work, sinking into depression and stress from trying to break some of their compulsive behaviors. One bright spot was their developing relationship with a close asexual friend which eventually bloomed into a loving, nonsexual partnership. There were many things I liked and related to in this book, but also some parts I wish had been developed further, such as when/how the author came to terms with their biromantic/panromanticness. There were a few parts of the story which where not told chronologically, which didn't help the story's flow for me. However, I am extremely glad this book exists since there is still so little representation of asexuality and mental health. I hope this book brings comfort to many readers!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Anniek

    I'm aromantic and asexual myself, and I'm very excited to be able to review this book during this year's Asexual Awareness Week! Honestly, the chapter titles already hit me HARD. Like... that in itself already almost made me cry. Then of course I was full on crying from how relatable it was from the very first few pages. I have to admit I teared up a couple of times, because Rebecca's life experience was so incredibly similar to mine. Because of that, this was such an incredibly relatable and vali I'm aromantic and asexual myself, and I'm very excited to be able to review this book during this year's Asexual Awareness Week! Honestly, the chapter titles already hit me HARD. Like... that in itself already almost made me cry. Then of course I was full on crying from how relatable it was from the very first few pages. I have to admit I teared up a couple of times, because Rebecca's life experience was so incredibly similar to mine. Because of that, this was such an incredibly relatable and validating experience that made me feel really seen. I think it would be a great resource for people who want to learn more about asexuality out of interest or because they're questioning if they're on the asexual spectrum. One small thing I didn't love was how aromanticism was presented as an identity under the asexual umbrella. Allosexual (non-asexual) aromantic people exist, and aromanticism is its own identity/umbrella. Rep: asexual, wlw, OCD CWs: bullying, OCD, aphobia, mlm fetishization

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty

    Special thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review There was a period of my life that I thought I was asexual, but it turns out I just genuinely wasn't interested in anyone I went to high school with. With this graphic memoir, I think it's important to remember that this is the author's experience with being asexual, and she repeatedly says that others who identify as asexual may have a different definition from hers. She even explains a few of t Special thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review There was a period of my life that I thought I was asexual, but it turns out I just genuinely wasn't interested in anyone I went to high school with. With this graphic memoir, I think it's important to remember that this is the author's experience with being asexual, and she repeatedly says that others who identify as asexual may have a different definition from hers. She even explains a few of the various types of asexuality in simple terms, making it very easy for anyone to understand, so do not fear. I can't imagine how annoying it must be when you tell someone you're not interested in the physical aspects of a relationship and they say, "Oh, you just haven't found the right person yet!" or "Well, you'll never get married if you won't have sex!" As if they are literally the one and only asexual human being out of 8+ billion people and couldn't possibly find a partner. Anytime you go against a societal norm you get the same general type of response. "I am simply aghast that you don't want to do what I want to do! What about that movie I watched on television last night?! The guy ended up with the girl and they had two children, a boy and a girl! It was so sweet! Why don't you want that, too?!?!" Aside from the ridiculous and occasionally truly mean comments that the author endures, this graphic memoir explores more than that. It's a memoir after-all. We go through Rebecca's life as a child, teenager, art school student, an adult during the recession. I went in thinking this would focus solely on her asexuality, but luckily we got a look at the entire person, who is not only asexual, but has OCD and panic attacks. She's also very talented and a good, thoughtful friend. I really enjoyed this. I would recommend it to anyone who needs a help understanding asexuality a little better, it sure helped me. Happy reading!

  9. 5 out of 5

    HG

    As an asexual person myself, I loved reading this memoir about Rebecca and their experiences growing up being ace. This is the first book I’ve ever read with ace representation!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sheena

    How to Be Ace is a graphic novel memoir about the authors experience of being asexual and how it affected relationships while growing up. The title is a bit misleading because it also talks about dealing with OCD, anxiety, introversion, and life after college. I think it depicts an accurate representation of what life is like after college in dealing with money, finding a job, and constantly stressing out. I learned a lot about asexuality which I only had a brief knowledge of before. The author How to Be Ace is a graphic novel memoir about the authors experience of being asexual and how it affected relationships while growing up. The title is a bit misleading because it also talks about dealing with OCD, anxiety, introversion, and life after college. I think it depicts an accurate representation of what life is like after college in dealing with money, finding a job, and constantly stressing out. I learned a lot about asexuality which I only had a brief knowledge of before. The author gets very personal and shows that there is always hope and the importance of self-love. I think it's very knowledgable graphic novel and showcases great representation of sexuality and mental illness. Thank you to Netgalley and to the publisher for sending me an advanced copy!

  11. 4 out of 5

    starryarcher

    “But, it’s much easier to get through life’s challenges when you understand who you are.” TEARS IN MY EYES

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    3.5 Stars I was not overly familiar with the details of asexuality so I was interested in reading this own voices graphic novel. The book was cute and relatable. I wished it had been a bit more informative. The author also struggled with OCD behaviors and social anxiety so sometimes it was a little confusing what challenges related to her asexuality. I realize people are multifaceted but it did muddle the narrative a bit.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    A solid memoir that also does some educating on asexuality, in graphic form. The author/artist does a great job at expressing the emotions in the images, especially when she is struggling with OCD (I found those scenes particularly compelling in their contrast.)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Libby

    *Long and emotional review alert* Every time I read books that centers asexual (ace) and/or aromantic (aro) experiences, I feel so fucking validated. And that validation is something you don’t realize you’re missing (as an ace and/or aro person) until you feel it. Everything Burgess describes about how culture/society as a whole encourages sexuality/romance/pairing up/marriage for our ENTIRE LIVES (literally since infancy) is so on point. It’s this underlying and omnipresent current that, again, *Long and emotional review alert* Every time I read books that centers asexual (ace) and/or aromantic (aro) experiences, I feel so fucking validated. And that validation is something you don’t realize you’re missing (as an ace and/or aro person) until you feel it. Everything Burgess describes about how culture/society as a whole encourages sexuality/romance/pairing up/marriage for our ENTIRE LIVES (literally since infancy) is so on point. It’s this underlying and omnipresent current that, again, you don’t even realize you’re feeling the effects of until it’s pointed out to you or until you start seeking answers (usually online) as to why you are ‘broken’ or find no fulfillment in ‘normal’ relationships. Burgess is ace, not aro, and I’m gray-ace/pan and fully aro, but our experiences are comparable. And I think many people who fall under the umbrellas of ace and aro probably have similar life stories as well. The story goes something like this: You feel broken for not wanting a thing everyone else seems to want (sex in Burgess’ case, romance in mine; This feeling of ‘brokenness’ started in high school [possibly even middle school?] for me). Then you start to subconsciously justify your lack of desire by convincing yourself everyone else feels the same way you do, they just cover it up better (i.e. “if only I could find the right person, I would understand and feel comfortable with romance/sex”). Then things come to a head (most likely because you have hurt someone you cared about by being weird about the relationship or cutting them off) and you start looking for answers as to why you feel this way. And then you hopefully find a term/identity you feel comfy with and it can help wash away those feelings of inadequacy or brokenness you were constantly facing before. Bonus points if you get a therapist somewhere along the way that reinforces your feeling of brokenness by telling you things like, “You’ll want romance/sex eventually someday.” Or even worse, “You’ll HAVE to have romance/sex one day.” But even once you find security in your identity as an ace and/or aro person, you’ll still have to face a lifetime of disparaging comments (which hurt most when they come from friends/family/fellow LGBTQ+ people) who say things like, “You just haven’t found the right person,” or, “I think it’s unnatural that you feel this way,” or, “You probably feel this way due to your *insert traumatic experience here*” (even when said traumatic experience happened AFTER your realization that you were somehow different— they won’t believe you when you say this btw) or, “That’s a fake identity that people use when they want to feel special.” Which fucking sucks. But you know what? I would MUCH RATHER face these criticisms and know myself/feel comfortable with myself/have these identifying terms for myself than face the rest of my lifetime feeling the uncertain and broken way I did throughout high school and undergrad. I truly hated parts of my life because I couldn’t “get it together” and “be normal,” and now I love myself and my identity, even if I do have to face harsh comments from people. All this to say: READ THIS BOOK, especially if you are not on the aro or ace spectrums. Educate your goddamn self. *Soapbox over* (I do have one small critique of the book, however. At some point early on in the book, aromanticism is presented as something UNDER the asexual umbrella. This is not true. Asexuality and aromanticism are two separate umbrellas as folks who are aro but not ace exist and folks who are ace but not aro exist. Romantic attraction and sexual attraction are entirely separate spectrums, but can sometimes correlate for people, which is why I think folks have a hard time seeing these spectrums as separate.)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    This makes a powerful case for the importance of representation and the harm our current culture can cause aro/ace teens. It also illustrates repeatedly that asexuality is so invisible in our culture, most people don't even know it exists, including many of those experiencing it personally. Which is why I desperately wish they'd choose a different title for this! Like, right now. CHANGE IT PLEASE!!! It's not too late :) It's just odd to me to so effectively make the point that there are many, man This makes a powerful case for the importance of representation and the harm our current culture can cause aro/ace teens. It also illustrates repeatedly that asexuality is so invisible in our culture, most people don't even know it exists, including many of those experiencing it personally. Which is why I desperately wish they'd choose a different title for this! Like, right now. CHANGE IT PLEASE!!! It's not too late :) It's just odd to me to so effectively make the point that there are many, many asexual teens and pre-teens suffering because they have no idea "asexual" is even a thing, and then use the NICKNAME for it as your title. If you don't already know what "ace" means, that cover doesn't help you at all :(  Which is a damn shame because there's a lot of value here. Just offering assurance to others that they are not alone -- this is not a delayed development issue, or a trauma, or a choice; this is who you are -- is incredibly important. There are other valuable insights as well, but, oh my, I really want to get in there and restructure the narrative in several places. I think there's two main issues: 1. The lack of clarity surrounding the intersection of the author's asexuality and mental health experience. I think it was a mistake to discuss the mental health issues this much without fully telling that part of the story. The author seems to want the focus firmly on asexuality, which makes sense (although I would have been happy to read about both issues), but she also has OCD/anxiety/phobia issues that can't be completely left out because the extreme anxiety definitely impacted her personal experience with asexuality, and it's very important to understand she sought therapy for her OCD, not her asexuality. But you either tell the story in full or pare the anxiety/OCD rep way, way back, so it's literally a couple of sentences here and there. She tried to find a middle ground and it muddled the story. I am demisexual and relatively knowledgeable about mental health and still felt very confused at times. I finished this with so many questions about the mental health stuff, that it almost overwhelmed everything else. Which was made worse by the second issue: 2. The timeline gets wonky and doesn't serve the narrative well. I think it goes back to the issue of not fully committing to the memoir format. We're autobiographical for a while, and then jump to a more general illustration of concepts -- which is always done really well, so again, I think this would have been a valid choice in storytelling style -- but then we slip back into the personal story at a much later point than we left off, and you've just accepted that we aren't going to see how something played out from point A to B in her personal life when the timeline jumps backward to a third point in the story and starts moving forward again on a completely different track. The information is all great, but the narrative outline needs a massive re-think. This is what happens when you can't decide between two approaches and end up doing neither especially well.  And again, it's a shame, because I think it might alienate anyone who's coming into this without a clear grasp on asexuality. A clearer narrative focus would allow for a much greater audience. Trigger warning for strong, strong anxiety rep: I do not struggle with anxiety, but it jumps off the page so effectively, it almost felt like I did. **This book was provided for free by the publisher in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley** 

  16. 4 out of 5

    S

    I'm a big fan of comic books/graphic novels and this one didn't disappoint. It was great to see representation of one of the lesser represented letters in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. It's wonderfully drawn, easy to follow even if you're not a comics fan, easily digestible, understandable and super relatable. As with most graphic novels it's not a long read and I think it would be really useful in educational environments to educate young people on asexuality in a way that they may hopefully connect wi I'm a big fan of comic books/graphic novels and this one didn't disappoint. It was great to see representation of one of the lesser represented letters in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. It's wonderfully drawn, easy to follow even if you're not a comics fan, easily digestible, understandable and super relatable. As with most graphic novels it's not a long read and I think it would be really useful in educational environments to educate young people on asexuality in a way that they may hopefully connect with. There are a number of books popping up in this kind of vein and this is definitely one of the better ones. By connecting it directly to the personal experiences of the author it gives a really good perspective so it's not just a clinical representation of what asexuality means, rather a depiction of how people feel and experience their asexuality. I'd recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about asexuality and whether you are aware of it or not, whether you are on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum or not. I'd also recommend it as a really good graphic novel on the merits of it's drawing and storytelling. I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Schizanthus Nerd

    When Rebecca was growing up they weren’t interested in talking about relationships and sex like the rest of their classmates. They didn’t understand why sex was such a big deal but assumed they’d “grow into” it when they got older. They tried to have relationships but it just didn’t feel right. They thought that something must be wrong with them. It wasn’t until they were at university that they began to accept that being different was okay and that they didn’t have to pretend to be like everyone When Rebecca was growing up they weren’t interested in talking about relationships and sex like the rest of their classmates. They didn’t understand why sex was such a big deal but assumed they’d “grow into” it when they got older. They tried to have relationships but it just didn’t feel right. They thought that something must be wrong with them. It wasn’t until they were at university that they began to accept that being different was okay and that they didn’t have to pretend to be like everyone else. Rebecca’s story takes the reader from the bullying they experienced in childhood through to managing their mental health. Information about asexuality is scattered through the graphic novel, with insights into what relationships can look like for people who identify as asexual. There was a greater focus on mental health than I had expected. I didn’t personally learn anything new about asexuality from the panels that provide information but they do give readers a good introduction. I anticipate that being able to follow Rebecca’s journey from struggling with their sexuality to their eventual acceptance of who they are will be helpful for readers who can relate to her experiences and provide new understanding for those who don’t understand asexuality. There are resources at the end of Rebecca’s story. Because asexuality is so misunderstood I’m including them here so you can check them out for yourself. Content warnings include anxiety, bullying, emetophobia, OCD and mention of sexual assault. Thank you so much to NetGalley and Jessica Kingsley Publishers for the opportunity to read this graphic novel. I’m rounding up from 3.5 stars. Blog - https://schizanthusnerd.com

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marilisa

    My main hope was that this book would be educational and easy to read for younger readers, to introduce the topic of asexuality in a light way. I think it succeeded in that. There's a fine line between sharing your experience and being preachy and Rebecca Burgess never crossed it. I can see it having a real impact on teenagers or younger generations, still discovering themselves and others. Ace people are definitely underrepresented in any kind of media, so content like this should get the recog My main hope was that this book would be educational and easy to read for younger readers, to introduce the topic of asexuality in a light way. I think it succeeded in that. There's a fine line between sharing your experience and being preachy and Rebecca Burgess never crossed it. I can see it having a real impact on teenagers or younger generations, still discovering themselves and others. Ace people are definitely underrepresented in any kind of media, so content like this should get the recognition it deserves. Bravo Rebecca to take the plunge and expose your life story, struggles, and journey of self-development. I'm sure it's not easy, but it could help many others to feel understood and less alone. I'd recommend this to anyone that is not familiar with the concept of Ace, to anyone that is young and still figuring out their sexuality, to anyone that might struggle with who they are or have been told they're wrong, to anyone that would like to open their horizons, just a little.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Eva B.

    Such an important little book and one that hit me in some unexpected places! Not quite enough for a five-star read for me, but I'd recommend it. Such an important little book and one that hit me in some unexpected places! Not quite enough for a five-star read for me, but I'd recommend it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    kory.

    just add this to my list of recent disappointing reads content/trigger warnings; bullying, alcohol consumption, marijuana, ocd, anxiety attacks, emetophobia, depression, ableism, arophobia, acephobia (external and internal), rape mentioned, endometriosis mentioned, queer men fetishization, sex, medical gaslighting, i’m stoked for the people who felt seen and validated by this. it just didn’t work for me. i wanted more asexuality content, but it’s mainly about mental illness. i feel like the author just add this to my list of recent disappointing reads content/trigger warnings; bullying, alcohol consumption, marijuana, ocd, anxiety attacks, emetophobia, depression, ableism, arophobia, acephobia (external and internal), rape mentioned, endometriosis mentioned, queer men fetishization, sex, medical gaslighting, i’m stoked for the people who felt seen and validated by this. it just didn’t work for me. i wanted more asexuality content, but it’s mainly about mental illness. i feel like the author sometimes universalizes their experiences/feelings. (and on a more neutral note; there are some experiences i share with the author, but how the author feels about them and the choices they made because of them did not resonate with me at all. which is interesting. we’re all so different and i think it’s neat.) anyways. sex and touch aversion are never distinguished from asexuality, and asexuality is even defined as “generally meaning you have no interest in sex”. demisexual and grey asexual are mentioned as falling under the asexual spectrum, but they aren’t defined or explored at all. aromantic and demiromantic are also said to fall under the asexual spectrum, when they aren’t asexual identities. there’s a repeated ableist mindset about how asexual representation is bad or somehow lacking if the character is mentally ill. there’s a panel titled “asexual characters in tv are pretty non-existent and when they do exist, they look like this” clearly indicating the following examples are bad rep. and one example is a character who “becomes an alcoholic”. now, i’m not encouraging alcoholism, but why would an asexual character having an addiction make them bad rep? in another panel, the author muses about how they never see characters who don’t eventually have physical relationships, and that the few they can think of are “serial killers or people with mental health issues, like it’s a bad thing...am i sociopath?” putting serial killers and mentally ill people on the same level of bad, and implying asexual characters (and therefore people, since comments like this don’t exist in a vacuum) who are also mentally ill, again, are bad rep. the author describes several instances where they are just....a bad friend??? and it’s lowkey portrayed as if they aren’t??? like, whenever their friends started talking about relationships and getting excited about them and to share, they just zone out and don’t give a fuck. and it comes off as super rude and self-involved. you don’t have to relate to everything your friend is talking about in order to be a good friend and listen when they talk or engage in a conversation about it. also, there was the vibe that the author has no interest in connecting with people who have different interests. they depict themself as writing people off as soon as those people express an interest in something they don’t care about, as if there isn’t possibly anything else could have in common, any other possible way to make a connection.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Keanna

    *Provided an ARC by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review* When I heard about this graphic novel I was beyond excited - mainly because of the lack of ace-spectrum representation in books. However, I found that it just wasn't for me and was rather disappointed by how much I disliked it. As someone who is both on the ace-spectrum and suffers from mental illness, I didn't relate to this at all. Of course, people have different experiences but most times there are common factors. I didn't feel re *Provided an ARC by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review* When I heard about this graphic novel I was beyond excited - mainly because of the lack of ace-spectrum representation in books. However, I found that it just wasn't for me and was rather disappointed by how much I disliked it. As someone who is both on the ace-spectrum and suffers from mental illness, I didn't relate to this at all. Of course, people have different experiences but most times there are common factors. I didn't feel represented at all, to the point it was laughable. In my opinion, this book was titled wrongly. While, yes, it does discuss being asexual, its more focused on OCD and the struggles that the protagonist goes through during her life. It is incredibly misleading. I also hated how asexuals were represented, it just seemed so stereotypical. The anxiety aspects were overly dramatic - and this is coming from someone who has dealt with a major anxiety disorder for five years. I cannot personally talk for the OCD representation, but I'm glad we saw less of the 'everything needs to be clean' and more of the 'if I don't do this then something bad will happen'. There was also a specific scene that I hated because it showed our main character immediately feeling better after simply having a chat with her mother. Mental health does not work like that, nor will it ever. Something I did enjoy was the factual information that was included toward the end of each chapter. It allows the viewer to learn more if they were previously uneducated in the topic. Saying that I still wouldn't recommend this to people who were new to the ace-spectrum or wanting to know more. I was looking for some great ace representation and, unfortunately, I didn't receive it. However, I do really hope others find comfort from this book, it just wasn't for me.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Denver Public Library

    How do you find a community or relationship in an overtly sexualized world when you don’t experience sexual attraction? This is Burgess’ own story of coming into awareness of their feelings in relationships and discovering the term asexuality. The drawings and accompanying explanations of romantic versus sexual attraction and the direct “I” statements describing their experience made this read accessible and personal. I marveled at how Burgess respected/accepted their feelings; they didn't react How do you find a community or relationship in an overtly sexualized world when you don’t experience sexual attraction? This is Burgess’ own story of coming into awareness of their feelings in relationships and discovering the term asexuality. The drawings and accompanying explanations of romantic versus sexual attraction and the direct “I” statements describing their experience made this read accessible and personal. I marveled at how Burgess respected/accepted their feelings; they didn't react to peer or societal expectations. Also, throughout the story, things always got better when Burgess took a risk and shared what was happening in their brain even if they didn’t always like the outcome. Burgess’ story of self-acceptance, good boundaries and lifelong learning is affirming.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Emily

    I really enjoyed this graphic novel on a very personal journey with coming to terms with one's anxiety and asexuality. Definitely had some things I could very easily relate to. I think with asexuality, ones path and coming to terms and acceptance is so personal and individual, and it's so great to see this author's personal journey, while also knowing that someone else's journey could be completely and totally different, and they are still ace. This graphic novel wasn't preachy or just blasting I really enjoyed this graphic novel on a very personal journey with coming to terms with one's anxiety and asexuality. Definitely had some things I could very easily relate to. I think with asexuality, ones path and coming to terms and acceptance is so personal and individual, and it's so great to see this author's personal journey, while also knowing that someone else's journey could be completely and totally different, and they are still ace. This graphic novel wasn't preachy or just blasting info, I greatly enjoyed it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    anastasia

    felt so much lighter seeing most parts of my own experience being represented here?? wtf i love this, definitely recommend.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Renata

    I think this is something that will be super validating for a lot of readers. Burgess does a great job highlighting how allonormative society is and how damaging that was, and how important it was for them to find an asexual community. I wish a little bit that there had been some footnotes or something for an American edition, just to explain the British school system a bit for teen readers? But also like, it's pretty minor, I don't think that most kids will get too hung up on college vs universi I think this is something that will be super validating for a lot of readers. Burgess does a great job highlighting how allonormative society is and how damaging that was, and how important it was for them to find an asexual community. I wish a little bit that there had been some footnotes or something for an American edition, just to explain the British school system a bit for teen readers? But also like, it's pretty minor, I don't think that most kids will get too hung up on college vs university. It's also....of note, I guess, that the title implies it will be all about asexuality but it's almost equally a memoir of autism and OCD. Of course it's their memoir and they can only write about their experience, but...well, I guess what I'm really saying is the market needs more asexual representation for teens (and all ages) so that this can be just one of many. Burgess does a great job showing readers their perspective, even if readers can't relate to all aspects of their journey. Also, the art is really cute.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    Overall, I did enjoy this. And I'm glad there's another book about being asexual out in the world. I am glad there's another story of being asexual and sex/touch repulsed or averse. I don't think there's enough sex repulsed asexual representation. I also want to say this is only ONE WAY to be Ace. There is no wrong way to be ace. Whatever that means to you is valid. The Ace community is large and diverse and there will never be one universal Ace experience. I hope someone reads this book and kno Overall, I did enjoy this. And I'm glad there's another book about being asexual out in the world. I am glad there's another story of being asexual and sex/touch repulsed or averse. I don't think there's enough sex repulsed asexual representation. I also want to say this is only ONE WAY to be Ace. There is no wrong way to be ace. Whatever that means to you is valid. The Ace community is large and diverse and there will never be one universal Ace experience. I hope someone reads this book and knows they're not alone, they're not broken and all of the acephobia and arophobia they encounter is wrong. I did have a couple issues with this book: One panel introduces asexuality but then includes sublabels like demisexual and grey ace along with aromantic and demiromantic. These are all identities within the aspec; HOWEVER, aromanticism and asexuality are SEPARATE spectrums. Aromanticism is NOT a sublabel of asexuality. You can be asexual, or aromantic, or aroace or neither. But it is very important to me that people do not misconstrue being asexual as automatically being aromantic. That is not true. Alloromantic asexual people can and do feel romantic attraction. To make things even more confusing there is a panel later on that them separates romantic and sexual attraction. Which is correct, but like seeing that after aromanticism was made to be a sublabel of asexuality??? Parts of this also felt very arophobic on the author's part, which I blame on our amatonormative society not her. So I would definitely recommend this for ace people and allo people to learn how to not be acephobic, but for my aro friends out there, I would say proceed with caution. CWs: Acephobia/acemisia, arophobia/aromisia, alcohol consumption, gaslighting (from a psychologist), mental illness (anxiety & OCD), panic attacks/disorders.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Manon the Malicious

    *4.5 Stars* I was provided an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This memoir is tells us about the author growing up as an asexual woman, from high school to after she leaves uni. It also dives into mental health issues and bullying and more. I really like this. By now, we all know there's not one asexual experience but loads of them, and the more they're being told the better it is. As an asexual woman myself, I saw a lot of me in this memoir but, also, just as much that was differ *4.5 Stars* I was provided an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This memoir is tells us about the author growing up as an asexual woman, from high school to after she leaves uni. It also dives into mental health issues and bullying and more. I really like this. By now, we all know there's not one asexual experience but loads of them, and the more they're being told the better it is. As an asexual woman myself, I saw a lot of me in this memoir but, also, just as much that was different from me. And I loved that. I also loved the drawing style and the little "lessons" in between chapters. It was also very well organized and such a very fast read. I will definitely be buying of physical copy and will be on the lookout for more books from this author. A must read for anyone and everyone in and out of the LGBT+ community.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Arin

    I don't think that I can explain how much I loved this book. It almost felt like I was reading about myself and it was oddly comforting. As an asexual with OCD and endometriosis, I never thought I would be able to read a book where I was represented in all the ways at the same time. The discussions of asexuality and how you can still love and be in happy relationships made me so happy and hopeful. The OCD representation almost made me tear up, it was so painfully relatable and even though I logi I don't think that I can explain how much I loved this book. It almost felt like I was reading about myself and it was oddly comforting. As an asexual with OCD and endometriosis, I never thought I would be able to read a book where I was represented in all the ways at the same time. The discussions of asexuality and how you can still love and be in happy relationships made me so happy and hopeful. The OCD representation almost made me tear up, it was so painfully relatable and even though I logically know I am not alone in these struggles, seeing it laid out in from of me always catches me off guard. Seeing someone else panic and wrestle with the fact that you cannot control everything and have to live with the fact that your rituals don't ensure that bad things happen to you was a lot to take in but it also made me feel so seen. I went into this thinking that I would get a short graphic memoir about growing up asexual, and while I got that, I also got so much more. If you're asexual, I highly highly recommend this book. It is so relatable and comforting to see someone go through the same things as you. If you're not asexual, I highly recommend this book as well. It can give you a glimpse into what it is like to be asexual and also maybe give you some more information you didn't know.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    Rebecca Burgess learns to cope with their asexuality surrounded by people who are either ignorant about or enraged by its existence or convinced they are one good lay away from a "cure." They also discuss their OCD, and while they don't explore any connection, I am curious about the frequency of any correlations that may occur between the two, how they might overlap in a Venn diagram say. The author bio on the back cover says they are autistic, but that seems to be only indirectly addressed in t Rebecca Burgess learns to cope with their asexuality surrounded by people who are either ignorant about or enraged by its existence or convinced they are one good lay away from a "cure." They also discuss their OCD, and while they don't explore any connection, I am curious about the frequency of any correlations that may occur between the two, how they might overlap in a Venn diagram say. The author bio on the back cover says they are autistic, but that seems to be only indirectly addressed in the narrative. I found the anecdotes and information in the book to be interesting in an introductory sort of way. I was occasionally frustrated by the shortness of chapters as a topic seemed finished off without delving as deeply as I would have hoped. And while I liked the insights and info offered in the out-of-narrative chapter interstitials, I found their placement confusing or even spoiler-y. It might have been better to gather these factoids into their own chapter or an end matter section. I'll certainly check out anything Burgess might do next. I see they have some webcomics too that I might explore soon.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ocean

    This graphic novel is highly relatable. The relationship between the narrator and Sophie is my idea of a perfect relationship. I recommend this for anyone who is - or thinks they might be - asexual, and those who wish to understand asexuality better.

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