How to be Ace

How to be Ace by Rebecca Burgess, Can be read in a few hours depending on your speed, Graphic Nonfiction

What is it like to grow up surrounded by people seeking relationships (or at least sex) and not really wanting to yourself but also not really being able to explain why? What is it like living with anxiety and OCD and not having the words to explain what you’re feeling. These are the issues Burgess explores in their graphic novel, How to be Ace.

In many ways, this book will bring those of us of a certain age back to our post-puberty teen years where it seems everyone suddenly discovered sexual attraction. Or at least, we assumed everyone did. When I was a kid, the idea of being ace or even on the gray sexual scale was unheard of. And, thinking back, I wonder how many walked around in a cloud of confusion and anxiety in the same way Burgess did. I hope that kids today, and even kids of years past who still haven’t quite landed on who they are, struggle with this less thanks to books like How to Be Ace.

Burgess does a fantastic job bringing to life the struggles they faced in finding themselves and the joy that came when they did. The illustrations really bring their journey to life in a way that is hard to convey in text alone. Burgess’ talents as an illustrator are on full display and it’s wonderful seeing an artist merge both their art and their words in such a brilliant way.

I loved this book. It’s heart-warming, moving, and exactly what you want from a graphic nonfiction. While queer folks absolutely do not owe us their time, I’m really glad Burgess decided to write this book. It helped me (and I hope others) better understand what it means to be ace. More importantly, this is exactly the kind of book that will help other folks who are ace be seen (and maybe help those struggling with their sexuality gain a better understanding of themselves). And it’s exactly the kind of book we need teens (and, frankly, adults) today to read.

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