A friend of mine started reading Judy Blume’s Forever on the bus on the way to a church youth camp. Some time passed, and then we were all startled by her sudden shouts of disgust followed by her hurling the book out of the bus window. Apparently, she thought it was too racy. She might very well have the same reaction to Anatomy of a Boyfriend, a frank look at teen sexuality.
Dominique, a high school senior and aspiring doctor whose favorite book is Grey’s Anatomy, has never had a serious boyfriend so she hasn’t really given much thought to her stance on sex. She vaguely disapproves of her friend Amy’s frequent fooling around with various boys (she does everything but, so she’s technically still a virgin), but it’s not like she’s signed a True Love Waits promise to stay pure until marriage. Then she meets Wesley and falls head over heels in love and learns the hard way that first loves aren’t always meant for the long term.
The “throw the book out the window” scenes don’t start until about 100 pages in. It takes months of e-mailing and awkward meetings before Wes and Dom can actually come out and declare their feelings for each other (this is the relationship stage I know all too well). But once they finally do, things move alarmingly fast and without serious discussions about the future. Dom, like many teenage girls, thinks that sex means staying together forever. Wes, like most teenage boys, just wants to have a little fun. And because neither makes their expectations clear (Dom because she’s afraid of coming off as “too clingy” and Wes because he’s a guy), they are setting themselves up for emotional turmoil.
This is a very honest look at the giddy highs and heart breaking lows of a first relationship. But it doesn’t need to be thrown out a window – it’s actually a great book for discussion about teen sexuality, how far is too far, respecting yourself, and making the right choices. I think it’s a topic that needs to be discussed openly and honestly instead of secretly and shamefully.
One thing that threw me out of the book a bit was a scene at New Orleans’ Tulane University where Dom’s roof caves in and her room sustains water damage. My first thought was Hurricane Katrina. But then, this book is either set in an alternate universe or pre 2005 as Katrina is ignored completely. A bit of a shame, but I can understand that it was probably a can of worms the author didn’t want to open, especially since the book has such a narrow focus.
Anatomy of a Boyfriend comes out in paperback on September 23rd.