‘I Was Born For This’ by Alice Oseman

/5 stars

Published by Harper Collins Children’s Books!

To Angel Rahimi, The Ark is her whole life. As one third of the pop-rock band, for Jimmy Kaga-Ricci The Ark is his life. Thrust into the spotlight at a young age, Jimmy deals with the hangover of invasive fans, his anxiety and missing home. Meanwhile, Angel owes everything she has to the band. Friends, life aspirations and a purpose. All that comes under threat. In the run up to the meet and greet, the moment in which The Ark will become tangible beings in Angel’s life, things begin to unravel — both for the fandom and the band itself.

The dynamic of fandom and the ‘fangirl’ is an interesting one, often brushed aside as something hysterical and childish that erratic, good for nothing teenage girls are into. However, in ‘I Was Born For This’ Alice Oseman competently tackles the sometimes complex nature of being a fan of something or someone. As someone who has been immersed in a fandom and felt that almost dependency on someone completely unconnected to you to make your day better, I felt that Oseman really captured that sense of belonging and of anchoring yourself to something to get you through hardships. The toxicity of it all was also perfectly executed. The way in which a fandom can so quickly be infected and turn sour. The absurdity of putting so much of yourself into something that is, for the most part in your head. Oseman found the right balance, neither taking away nor ridiculing something so integral to many young people’s lives.

On the flip side, or perhaps perfectly parallell, we also see the downfalls of fame. How it can practically breed unhappiness and instability. Through not only Jimmy, but also Ronan and Lister we see the ceaseless nature of what it is to be famous. The invasiveness and sense of entitlement, not only from fans but from journalists, too and those that made The Ark’s dreams come true. We really see the unhealthy relationships created, both in viewership of self and respect for your own body in terms of who you let touch it and also with their attitudes towards food (or lack thereof) and alcohol. It felt like a really dank but also completely honest perception of that idolised ‘rich and famous’ lifestyle. A depiction I’ve only really felt the sheer sincerity of in fan fiction previously.

Like always, Alice Oseman completely smashed it in terms of voice and representation. An array of wonderful, complex characters were celebrated in ‘I Was Born For This’, their spirits so completely genuine and close to my heart. Though I’ll admit this may be the first instance I’m wondering, as a twenty-three-year-old, whether I’m starting to become out of touch. (Is ‘my guy’ a thing the kids say these days? God, I’m a grandma.) The depths explored in both Angel and Jimmy were so well and tastefully done, especially within the amount of pages and the fact it was split almost evenly between the two. I liked that although Angel by no means had her life sorted, she was starting to see by the end how she needed to focus more on herself. Similarly with Jimmy and being conscious of his health.

This book was a testament to the fundamental nature of fandoms, the exhilarating dynamics of boy bands and the importance of prioritising yourself.

Thank you to Harper Collins Children’s Books  for this review copy!*

‘I Was Born For This’ is out 3rd May!

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