Book Review: Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

Book cover of Radio Silence

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I finished this book in almost 24 hours. I listened to the Audible version of Radio Silence and I think the experience was amplified because of this medium.

Alice really understands teenagers, she gets it, too well. She understands the teenage struggles not just on the surface but in depth.

Frances is a beautiful, courageous, dedicated and honourable protagonist. Who is coming finding herself. She is timid about her own personal style and dedicated to her art and school. She’s just a teenager dealing with teenager life.

Social media

The narrative in Radio Silence in presented through mixed mediums, through character narration and then digital podcasts. Aled (aka Radio) who establishes a podcasting platform where emotion can be explored creatively and released. We all have our internet presence and our real life presence and if you’ve ever been on Tumblr as a teen you know you don’t want anyone in your real life to find your tumblr page because you would actually have to move countries.

Themes

The exploration of friendship, of non-romantic love, of teenagers who are creative, struggling to keep up with unrealistic school homework, revision and activities is explored so authentically I felt myself transported back to the time I was doing my A Levels. The long nights, revising or reading something until 3am. Freaking out before an exam, doing an exam with 2 hours sleep. My experience at sixth form made me hate the education system. University was great but at one point in sixth form I considered giving up. My creative self repressed so far back in my mind it threw itself into a wasteland. Creatively my sixth form experience was stifling and for that reason I really connected with Frances in Radio Silence who is head girl and the perfect student, but when she finally sits in her interview at Cambridge she realises that she is a creative at heart more than anything. Weirdly I did do the English degree, but i’ve realised I’m a writer at heart too not just a lover of literature. I wish I had this book when I was in school, I probably would have pushed my love of art further.

Creativity Vs University (Education)

I thought I would hate this book because it would demonise school and University and the educational system but actually I think Alice Oseman has cleverly written a book that does challenge the way our educational system nurtures creative ability – or rather, highlights the lack of creative ability being pushed in an educational environment. That constant hounding pressure to get the best grades, to get into college, then university, then your degree will get you a job with lots of money. This is all false there are many different ways to exploring subject, everyone has their own journey, not everyone wants to or will go to university and that is okay both ways. I loved school, for me it was an escape from my daily home life when it got complicated. A routine, I enjoyed all homework except Maths. I loved being at University and exploring a variety of voices, that is where I found myself and nurtured my creativity because I wasn’t being forced to hand in a Maths worksheet everyone other day.

I love that this book naturally is racially and sexually diverse. This is just a normal thing, there isn’t that one tokenistic friend. There isn’t that one queer or one black friend. Everyone is just another person.

Have you read this book yet?