Ummmmm | BookishFirst

Ummmmm

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roconnell91 Avatar

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So, the book isn't TERRIBLE. The writing is competent and overall the characters are likeable. But it's exceedingly generic and honestly unrealistic.
Stories about high schoolers questing to lose their virginity have been around since the early 80's. Granted, the majority of them have concerned boys rather than girls, so at least this one is progressive in that aspect. But it's not a new idea by any stretch. That would be fine if somehow new life was breathed into this old idea, but unfortunately that is not the case here. If anything this feels like a step in a slightly backwards direction.
For starters, we really need to knock off this idea that men are sex maniacs with automatic knowledge who can do it and feel no emotion, and girls are the only ones who get nervous about their first time and put a lot of thought into it. Guys can be just as awkward and have just as much anxiety, and it can mean just as much to them. And not every girl is obsessively nervous about her first experience. The book quickly devolves into these sexist stereotypes, right down to the main character's friend promptly being called a slut for sleeping with someone after waiting years to do so because the guy acts like a meathead and tells literally everyone about the encounter. It doesn't help that the whole crux of the story is the protagonist being so worried about "losing it" that she enlists her male friend's help to prepare for her first time with what she thinks is the right guy. The idea that she sees it as a task to be completed rather than an experience that should happen when she's truly ready is legitimately upsetting. She's getting ready to finish high school but peer pressure has made it so that she has nothing better to do than obsess over her first perpendicular poke while every male sews his oats with wild abandon?
Which leads me to my next complaint; this isn't realistic. Maybe it was just the fact that I was religious in high school, but I never experienced this kind of pressure regarding sex. I came from a small town but outside of my best friend I had zero knowledge or interest in what other people were doing with their bits. I know for a fact that a handful of people just didn't care because they had better things to worry about. In particular, this was not something girls widely talked about or pressured each other over, and to my knowledge it still isn't except in rare pockets. In my day it was acknowledged that kids were probably banging somewhere, but it wasn't anyone else's business and wasn't obvious unless someone got pregnant. So the idea of a whole town knowing who was still a virgin in high school and talking about it just doesn't ring true. We have luckily reached a point in history where the overall the message regarding sex is simply do what feels right for you, when it feels right, and it's a shame this book doesn't follow that model.
After all this it's really a moot point for me to mention that the main character is also a blank slate with almost no real personality traits aside from being like every other cute, smart, insecure YA character ever written.
Bottom line: this book seems like a waste of time. It uses outdated cliches, unrealistic characterization of high school students, and sexist tropes to tell a story that really doesn't add anything to the world as a whole. I can't even recommend it for teenagers seeing this story played out for the first time because it puts forth some downright unhealthy ideas. If you want to read something tackling teenage sexuality and the struggles it entails, there are far better options out there.