Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Reviews on a Theme: Sex in YA

Sex in YA is usually of the fade to black variety. But I read three contemporary books this year that get quite a bit more graphic than that. For further reading on the topic of sex in YA, check out this excellent post at Stacked.


Wren has always done exactly what her parents want her to. But the summer after she graduates from high school she decides it's time to do what she wants instead. That includes falling hopelessly in love with a foster kid, Charlie Parker.

What Myracle does so, so well here is capturing the all-consuming nature of first love. Wren and Charlie's get to know each other deeply on many levels - emotionally, intellectually and, yes, physically - and it's all refreshingly honest and straightforward.

But --- not gonna lie, Wren drove me absolutely crazy with her self-centeredness. It's like once she realizes she can live for herself instead of her parents she thinks everyone else should live just for her. This was especially apparent in her relationship with Charlie (who should be awarded a roomful of medals for putting up with her). His sweeping romantic gesture at the end of the book would have been swoon-worthy if it wasn't so foolhardy and if it didn't play right into Wren's self-centeredness.

Still, I would jump at the chance to read what happens next between Wren and Charlie.  Here's hoping there's a sequel (set in SPOILER).

FTC disclosure: Netgalley


Callie returns to her father after her mother is arrested for kidnapping her as a child. As she adjusts to life in a stable environment, she also falls for the town's resident charmer.

Based on the pitch, I somehow expected this to be more of an exploration of Callie's relationship with her father. While this aspect is more or less glossed over in favor of Callie's romance with Alex, I can't complain too much because their chemistry is a thing of beauty. Other pluses: Callie's fabulously understanding and uncomplicated friend Kat, the extended Greek family and detailed rendering of the tourist town of Tarpon Springs, FL. Personally I yelled at Callie a lot for the horrible way she treated her father, but at least I could understand why she behaved so badly.

FTC disclosure: Netgalley

USES FOR BOYS by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

In the beginning, it's just Anna and her mother and they are each other's whole world. But as Anna's mother starts a series of relationships with men, she pulls away from Anna - leaving Anna to look for someone else to complete her.

Anna's loneliness and neediness permeate the pages. Much of the novel is about how people use each for sex, and it's gritty and heartbreaking and depressing. Fortunately the ending is hopeful and I really do think Anna's journey is a powerful one that I'm sure many teens will relate to.

FTC disclosure: Bought


Bonnie @ A Backwards Story said...

It's always hard to figure out how to review books like these when you KNOW you have younger readers. You want to mention it without MENTIONING IT in a way that makes them know they're not ready yet, but doesn't make them try to get sneaky!

I haven't read any of these three yet, but I can think of others I've read this year. Robin LaFevers and Katie McGarry immediately come to mind, but I know there are more!

Christina said...

I loooved Where the Stars Still Shine, as you know, but I went into it without any expectations, so I didn't really mind what the focus was. I thought it fit the MC, since she was used to running away from family issues and using boys as an escape.

I'm planning to read Uses for Boys just to see what all the fuss was about. It's even more intriguing that you liked it so much!

Carina Olsen said...

Aw. I'm not sure any of these would be for me. I LOVE sex in YA, but I need a good story as well (A) Hih. Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts. <3

Amy said...

lol I love the title Uses for Boys, although the book itself sounds quite serious! Interesting theme!