What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?
Frances Janvier has always been a study machine with one goal, studying English Literature at Cambridge University. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret not even the person she is on the inside.
But when Frances meets Aled Last, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.
Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past She has to confess why Carys Last disappeared Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets.
Its only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And its only by being your true self that you can find happiness. Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.
This book provides examples of:
- Achievement Test of Destiny: the difficult A-Levels
- Asexuality: Downplayed Aled Last comes out to Daniel as demisexual. He is also demiromantic.
- Be Yourself: The whole book is about discovering your true self and accomplishing your desires.
- Frances discovers from Aled that she can show who she really is through her drawings, as he does with his podcasts.
- After ignoring their true desires and believing that university is the only way, Frances and Aled decide to become whoever they want to be, without worrying about being academic or perfect for their parents.
- Cast Full of Gay: Frances is bisexual, Daniel is gay, Carys is a lesbian, Aled is demi and Raine is confirmed to be pansexual.
- Childhood Friend Romance: After spending years as friends, Aled eventually develops feelings for Daniel and has a relationship with him.
- Coming-of-Age Story: The book deals with the transition from adolescence to adulthood when choosing studies after high school.
- Disappeared Dad: None of the characters' fathers are present.
- Education Mama:
- Carol Last puts enormous pressure on her son's academic success and keeps him away from distractions. She was even harder on her daughter, who was not a good student.
- Inverted Lana Janvier worries about the pressure her daughter is under to succeed, even though she would like her to get a good education, pushes her away from her homework and is delighted when she starts spending time with Aled.
- Evil Matriarch: Carol emotionally abuses her children, Aled and Carys, destroying what they love and causing Carys to flee her home.
- Good Parents: Lana Janvier is an adorable, supportive and funny mom.
- I Have No Son!: Carol coolly dismisses Carys in favour of her "real" child to her face when the two meet each other again outside St. John's College.
- Kick the Dog: When Aled's mother, Carol, euthanizes their dog, Brian, we can see how cruel she is.
- Naturalized Name: Daniel's birth name is Daesung.
- Platonic Life-Partners: Frances and Aled
- Radio, the main character of Universe City, is agender.
- Aled may identify as non-binary in the future
- Trash of the Titans: Aled's dorm at St. John's College, as Frances and the others find it.
- You Can't Go Home Again: Aled's unable to stay anywhere near his mother after she ransacks his bedroom and puts down the family dog, choosing to return to university instead of living with Frances during Christmas.