Trigger Warning: This article mentions triggering topics related to mental illness.
Read my reviews of the other Heartstopper volumes and the Netflix show here: https://illinoiseagle.com/2021/06/22/five-graphic-novels-to-read-for-pride/, here: https://illinoiseagle.com/2022/02/22/heartstopper-vol-2-is-a-heartwarming-tale/, here: https://illinoiseagle.com/2022/02/22/heartstopper-vol-2-is-a-heartwarming-tale/, https://illinoiseagle.com/2022/08/29/book-review-heartstopper-volume-3/, and here: https://illinoiseagle.com/2022/05/04/tv-show-review-netflixs-heartstopper/.
In this fourth installment of the Heartstopper series, Charlie wants to tell Nick that he loves him, but he is afraid that it might be too soon. What if Nick doesn’t say it back? Charlie also continues struggle with his mental health, particularly with anorexia and depression, starting to self-harm again. Nick is worried about him, but not sure how to help.
I liked how the this graphic novel teaches teenagers how to get treatment for their mental illness, showing the steps that Nick and Charlie take to get help for Charlie. It wasn’t my favorite volume of the series, but that’s probably because it dealt with such a heavy topic. But I’m also particularly sensitive about this topic, so it’s just a personal preference. Often what I have enjoyed about the series is the light-hearted moments, although there is always some conflict as well in the series.
Nick also wants to come out to his dad whom he rarely sees. His parents are divorced and his father lives in France. So he’s unsure of how to go about coming out to him. I’m not huge fan of coming out narratives. Of course, coming out is intimidating, but often LGBTQ+ people are treated like coming out of the closet is the most difficult part of our experience. This is simply untrue for many of us. Heartstopper Volume 5 does however show that coming out is an ongoing process. Nick also has to come out to his friend group. So this does at least show that coming out is an ongoing process. When someone comes out, it may just be to one person. If they want other people to know about their LGBTQ+ experience, then they are still going to have come out again.
Still, I do think that Nick and Charlie’s relationship is very cute. Their relationship isn’t without any conflict, they do argue, and worry about each other. But it is clearly a healthy relationship, and I think it’s nice to have that blueprint for queer youth. If you’ve been enjoying the Heartstopper series then you will probably like Heartstopper Volume 4.
Heartstopper Volume 4. Alice Oseman. Graphix. 2021. Hardcover. 351.