“Solitaire”: a Novel about Mental Health and Teenage Romance


Clara Compton

The cover of Alice Oseman’s, “Solitaire”. This cover art includes Tori following footprints on the ground. The cover art was redesigned by HarperCollins, designer, Ryan Hammond.

“Solitaire” is a young adult book that tells the story of Tori Spring, a year 12 student at Harvey Greene Grammar School for Girls (Higgs) in the UK. She has severe depression that she has to deal with throughout the story, and has trouble interacting with people. Tori is a very introverted person, and doesn’t really like anyone else.

In the book, there is a mystery blog called “Solitaire.” It was made to make school enjoyable for students. It quickly becomes too intense and, as though some are enjoying the pranks, Tori believes they are going too far. To help figure out how to put an end to the pranks, Tori makes a new friend, Michael Holden, to help with the job. Michael and Tori become very close friends and Tori finds herself with Michael all the time. As much as Tori tries to convince herself she doesn’t care about Michael, she comes to the conclusion that she needs him in her life.

“Solitaire” is a heartfelt story told so well by the author, Alice Oseman. Oseman was only 17 when she first started writing the book. In 2020, Oseman revised the story to make it more in line with her popular series “Heartstopper.” Oseman also edited the parts she thought were too harmful or too intense for the book.

The book was written really well. It has a significant view on mental health and explaining what it feels like to be in a bad place mentally. The story touches on very sensitive topics that Oseman handles well. It is admirable how she wrote about the relationship between Michael and Tori. She explained how Tori felt at all times in such detail. I enjoyed reading the different ways that Tori approached certain situations. Oseman displayed the characters very well. She made the characters relatable and realistic.

I did feel like the book, in a few parts, was all over the place. The characters would be at one place and the chapter would end abruptly. The next chapter would then skip to a whole different place, without much context. In the end, it would end up making sense, but it was still confusing at times. Oseman also displayed characters for a specific purpose, but personally I didn’t like the way that some were portrayed. For example, one of the characters, Lucas, was written to be sort of obsessive over Tori, but the way it was written was not enjoyable to read. Oseman might have done this on purpose, but it made the character dislikable.

Overall, the book was very pleasant to read and the plot drew me in very easily. I highly recommend this book to teens. All of Alice Oseman’s books are similar to this story. Her most popular graphic novel series, “Heartstopper” is my personal favorite. Even with that series, it ties into “Solitaire”, as do all of Oseman’s books.