I Was Born for This is Alice Oseman’s 3rd novel, and oh man, her books just keep getting better and better. I was so excited to pick this book up, having watched Alice’s youtube series called The Book 3 diaries. This depicted the very start of the planning process, writing, spiralling, editing, and finally publishing. If you’re interested in publishing from an author’s perspective, honestly go over and watch it because it’s so interesting (and Alice is also hilarious).
My friend Sophie (of TLCC) met Alice at YALC this year. I unfortunately couldn’t make it, so being the peach that she is, she got Alice to sign a little card for me:
So, I actually read this book a month or so ago, but after Sophie got me this card, I felt like I was thrown back into the world of Angel and Jimmy, and I couldn’t not write a review.
I Was Born For This centres around Angel, a British teen who lives for the boy band and pop-rock trio, The Ark. She finally gets the chance to see them live and meet them with her online friend Juliet. The novel is set the week that she goes down to London to see them live. And, oh man, what a ride. What’s interesting, and I think really important about the way the story is told, is that the narration is dual perspective. Half of the time we hear from Angel, and the other half we hear from Jimmy, frontman of The Ark.
The themes of fandom, idealising celebrities and imagining people complexly are all explored throughout. In particular, the way that Alice set out the book was really important. Giving a voice to the ‘celebrity’ and ‘fangirl’ as equals was essential to be able to tell this story in full. It allowed them to be viewed on the same level and as a reader, we can imagine both of them complexly. It’s a light hearted but poignant way to look at fandom in our society. It shows how it affects both sides and definitely serves as a reminder to think about the way we put people on pedestals.
Even if you’re not a ‘fangirl’ per se, Angel’s passion and love for the band is something that everyone can relate to, not just teenage girls. And that’s important to recognise because teenage girls are so often harassed by the media for being passionate about the things that they like.
“Being a male fan of an obscure old band is, for some reason, more acceptable than being a female fan of a twenty-first century boy band”
Alice’s style is so casual, it’s accessible and easy to read. Her characters are so authentic (in a similar way that Sara Barnard’s are). They just feel so tangible and real. Every character has their own quirks and mannerisms, and I loved the realistic way that mental health was represented. In particular, Jimmy struggles with anxiety and panic disorder. It was interesting to see this depicted through the eyes of a celebrity who also has to worry about hiding it from his fans.
What I also found excellent, was the way that Alice handled cultural representation. Angel is Muslim, and her culture is blended into the story, instead of a being a stand alone thing. I really loved this, because the story isn’t about the fact that Angel is Muslim and so it’s not focused on, but it’s mentioned when it’s important and when it flows naturally into the story.
This was also the case with sexuality. Lister is bisexual. Jimmy is Trans and gay. It’s not the main talking point in the novel, but their sexuality and gender is mentioned throughout as it comes up, not shoved in just to be a talking point.
Lastly, I honestly loved that there was absolutely no romantic aspect to Angel and Jimmy’s friendship. Honestly, it’s so refreshing to read a YA book, where romance isn’t just shoved in for the sake of it. Focusing on how their friendship evolved was so interesting, and felt so much more realistic.
What are you waiting for? Go and read it!