Alice Oseman released the fourth volume of Heartstopper on 6 May 2021. After an amazing summer exploring Paris with their friends, Charlie and Nick are closer than ever before. Charlie wants to find the courage to tell Nick that he loves him. Before he can utter the big "L" word for the first time, he has to deal with some important issues first. Charlie's mental health has been declining for some time due to him battling an eating disorder. With Nick's help, Charlie will take his first steps towards recovery.
I really liked how Oseman treated Charlie's mental health struggles in this book. She explains that recovery is possible, but it won't be a straightforward journey, and that romantic love cannot "cure" mental illness like a lot of movies suggest. One great character that stood out to me in this book was Nick's mother Sarah. After Nick tearfully confesses to his mother that he's worried Charlie might have an eating disorder, she offers him some much needed parental support and advice. She tells him it is ok for him to feel scared. Nick wants to rescue Charlie. His Mum reminds him he is only sixteen and that this is a lot to put on a sixteen-year-old's shoulders. Charlie can't just depend on him. Sarah encourages Nick to be there for Charlie as much as he can. At the same time, Nick has to acknowledge that sometimes people need more support than just one person can give. Sarah promises she will help Nick come up with a plan to help Charlie talk to his parents about his mental health. The love and support that Sarah shows Nick had me tearing up. The bond between them is so sweet and wholesome.
What an emotional and well-written book. Heartstopper continues to improve with each volume. I can't wait to read the fifth and final volume and see how it all ends. I want to see Nick and Charlie live happily ever after.