I think a lot of people will assume that upon finding a partner, any problems I face must be solved.
Perhaps the most important thing about the title of Rebecca Burgess’ new book How to Be Ace: A Memoir of Growing Up Asexual is the word memoir. This is by no means a guidebook for what it’s like to be asexual. As with many things, there is no one way to experience something especially a sexuality. In the end, this is just Burgress’ story.
As a memoir
I’m actually rather fond of memoirs. I appreciate them in any format, really, and graphic novels are definitely quite fun. Since How to Be Ace is a memoir, however, it’s not exactly as educational as I maybe would have liked. Part of the reason I pick up books like this, after all, is to broaden my understanding of things I do not personally experience. And while this is certainly a great read, if you’re looking for something more in-depth about Asexuality, this probably isn’t the best book.
That said, Burgess does include a list of sources at the end of the book that are definitely worth checking out.
You Can Learn
Of course, this book wasn’t meant to be wholly an educational resource. Instead, it’s a look at various experiences the author has lived through as a result of being asexual. I think the most important takeaway anyone can leave this book with is understanding society has negatively impacted the ace community in many ways. One of the worst existing in the way these people are often overlooked.
You see, even within the LGBTQ+ community, there is an obscurity to this kind of sexuality that results in microaggressions and feelings of ostracization. And, at the end of the day, the world needs to progress to the point that mistreatment and obscuration of asexuals is no longer the norm. The best way to do that is with building awareness.
While this memoir is not going to educate everyone on all the aspects of asexuality, it is a great start to building awareness.
As a Graphic Novel
I loved the artwork in this. And perhaps I am biased as a result of my love of this book, but I think this format was the better one. I honestly don’t think that the book could have been better in another format. There was so much to appreciate about the artwork, especially the way emotion was portrayed.
You spend pretty much the whole novel in Burgess’ head, experiencing a brief look into the experiences Rebecca faced. It’s certainly not everything, but there’s definitely a lot to learn from reading this book.
As a Story
Books like Burgess’ are so important, but they are not the only books on the topic you should read. One memoir is not going to educate anyone nearly enough on a subject they have not experienced for themselves. Even your own experiences likely won’t be enough. While I loved reading this book, it’s very clear to me that there is a lot more reading to be done on the subject matter that it addresses.
And that’s a good thing. This is a great starting point. I hope to read much more in the future.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.