We Awaken – asexuality YA by an author who truly knows
This YA read about awakening and loss is properly authentic in its approach to asexuality. Expect honesty and heavy-hitting feels in We Awaken by Calista Lynne. You can read Calista Lynne’s own thoughts about asexuality in fiction here…
WE AWAKEN: One year ago, Victoria’s family was fractured – a car accident killed her father and left her brother, Reeves, comatose. Now she and her mother walk through their lives like ghosts. Victoria cut herself off from her closest friend, Ellie, and her dream of being a ballerina. One night she dreams of a beautiful and mysterious woman, Ashlinn, who brings her a message from her brother. Intrigued and drawn to Ashlinn, Victoria continues to dream of her and form a bond stronger than she’s known before. Victoria faces loving someone who exists in her head and trying to peruse her dream of becoming a ballerina against her fears of failure. Together Victoria and Ashlinn explore Victoria’s asexuality, love without sex… and Victoria finds out that life is worth living.
“I can tell when someone is attractive and I appreciate it, but I’ve yet to grasp the whole sexiness thing.” – We Awaken by Calista Lynne
Sometimes books hint that characters are LGTBQIA+ or, even though it was never explicitly stated in the text, after the book is released the author confirms that the character is indeed LGBTQIA+. We Awaken by Calista Lynne is not one of those books. Victoria and Ashlinn are asexual and it’s stated many times in the book.
We Awaken explores Victoria’s sexuality and doesn’t pull its punches. Her closest friend Ellie becomes the sounding board off of which many myths and misunderstandings are debunked. Because yes, there is more than just gay and straight and no, asexuality isn’t just “that plant reproduction thing we learn about in school”.
I found Victoria’s exploration of her sexuality truly believe, from her searching and learning about her sexuality via the internet (and having that “A-ha! This is me!” moment) to having to explain and defend her sexuality.
In a world where the largest letters in the alphabet soup are L and G, it’s understandable that Victoria would’ve never come across the word ‘asexual’ before. Victoria described Ashlinn in terms of aesthetic and not attraction, so it made sense when Victoria found out that she’s asexual. As for Victoria’s relationship with Ashlinn, there was a trust and openness between the pair that was built over time. Consent was often asked for and the pair discussed their boundaries and what they would and wouldn’t do in terms of things like holding hands, kissing and sex. I can only applaud Lynne for such an honest and open exploration of what it can mean to be asexual.
“How do you feel?” she asked in return.
In terms of the book itself, the pace was slow in the opening chapters. However, it soon found its groove, gathered momentum and doled out heavy-hitting feels.
As the book went on, I became invested in Victoria and Ashlinn’s relationship and hoped that they would live happily ever after. As for the characters, I really liked the depiction of Ashlinn. Ashlinn is a person of colour and Lynee describes her appearance in a way that feels natural and not stereotypical. Ashlinn was understanding, but also flawed and, at times, selfish in that she ignored her responsibilities to be with Victoria. Victoria’s depiction was a raw and honest look at how she comes to terms with many things, including her asexuality. Like Ashlinn (and all of the characters in this week) she was flawed and at times, did ill-advised things. Victoria’s friend Ellie is a stark contrast to Victoria. Where Victoria is reserved and sullen, Ellie burns bright and doesn’t hold back her opinions. Ellie frustrated me at times with her probing questions and innuendos, but in the end, she came through for Victoria when she needed her. Victoria’s family didn’t appear much in this book, but I got attached to Reeves and I could really feel Victoria’s mother’s loss and see how much it affects her.
“This is what adulthood must feel like. This is leaving the past behind and accepting the love of another. This is a balance.” – We Awaken by Calista Lynne
Overall We Awaken is a solid book about asexuality, love and continuing to live after a tragedy. I’d recommend this book to people who think they might be hella ace, people with ace friends or family who want to understand asexuality and anyone who likes books about love and women who love women.
READ NEXT: We Awaken author Calista Lynne talks about asexuality and literature without lust.