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Reading: 'Let's Talk About Love', 'Tash Hearts Tolstoy', and the Asexual Coming-of-Age Story


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Academic Article

'Let's Talk About Love', 'Tash Hearts Tolstoy', and the Asexual Coming-of-Age Story


Alex Henderson

University of Canberra, AU
About Alex
Alex Henderson is a PhD candidate at the University of Canberra. Her creative thesis explores the ways writers can play with familiar tropes and archetypes for the purpose of social commentary and diverse narratives, with particular focus on depictions of gender roles and the representation of LGBTQIA+ characters. Her Honours dissertation, "Beast: A Hero Tale", retells an Irish quest-myth with a female protagonist to challenge the gendered assumptions in Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey structure. Her current research has shifted focus to the Trickster archetype and the ways writers can use them to make mischief with gender and genre.
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Sex is considered an intrinsic part of being human, and the development of a relationship with sex and sexuality an intrinsic part of growing up. This societal narrative leaves people on the asexual spectrum—those who do not experience sexual attraction—on the margins and considered abnormal. This can have an especially negative effect on asexual adolescents who are not experiencing the ‘rite of passage’ that is sexual desire and experimentation with sexual relationships. This is why—as with all queer identities—it is important to represent and normalise asexuality within fiction, particularly fiction aimed at young people. In this paper I examine two young adult novels with asexual protagonists—Kathryn Ormsbee’s Tash Hearts Tolstoy (2017) and Claire Kann’s Let’s Talk About Love (2018)—and how their protagonists’ asexual identity is woven into their coming-of-age stories and romance arcs. I explore the tropes, stereotypes, and misconceptions that have traditionally informed media depictions of asexuality, and how these novels divert from them to provide a more accurate and nuanced representation of the asexual experience; and, in doing so, establish patterns and tropes of their own from which a uniquely ‘asexual narrative’ suggests itself.
How to Cite: Henderson, A. (2019). 'Let's Talk About Love', 'Tash Hearts Tolstoy', and the Asexual Coming-of-Age Story. Roundtable, 2(2), 2. DOI:
Published on 21 Nov 2019.
Peer Reviewed


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