Archive for the ‘Sex’ Category

Lauren Myracle is an author who typically breaks new ground, so I must admit that I was somewhat disappointed to find The Infinite Moment of Us to be a reasonably standard coming of age story.InfiniteMomentOfUs

Wren Gray and Charlie Parker “connect” (their eyes meet) across the high school parking lot on the last day of class. She, a product of domineering parents, has secretly withdrawn her acceptance at Emory, where her mother works, to join Project Unity and teach English to underprivileged Guatemalan children. He is the product of multiple foster families and an unhealthy liaison with Starrla, a very disturbed student. Their eyes meet once more across the field at graduation and they finally really meet (although they were in some of the same classes) at a graduation party. The attraction, both physical and emotional, is immediate and the bond and love they form seems ideal. However, Wren must deal with disappointing her parents when she tells them about her change in plans as well as Charlie’s total devotion to his disabled brother, sometimes breaking dates, abruptly ending phone conversations, etc., while Charlie must distance himself from Starrla, who becomes more and more jealous, needy and violent. In addition, the inexperienced Wren and the somewhat experienced Charlie grapple with their sexual desires and initial sexual encounter.

Wren’s and Charlie’s insecurities about a new relationship and sexual desires are real. While Myracle’s portrayal of overbearing, domineering parents is right on point, the ancillary characters of Wren’s best friend Tessa and her new boyfriend PG, are just too good (read sugary sweet) to be believable. Finally, I did not find the story line compelling and I admit I was skimming the last third of the book.

In the advanced copy of the book, Ms. Myracle includes a letter stating that there is sex in the book. While this is not unusual in teen books, it might be a tad more graphic (only a tad, though) than in most teen books. Not something I would have warned the reader about, but, hey, that’s my humble opinion.

Bottom line? Despite some bright spots, The Infinite Moment of Us was a disappointment.

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PurityPurity by Jackson Pearce runs the extremes. There’s some humor, but essentially it is a sad book, but different types of sad for different reasons. It’s my first foray into Pearce’s books and despite a recommendation and review from some journal or other, I wasn’t quite ready for the story.

So, I’ll ask you. If you’re 10 years old and your mother is dying of breast cancer and she asks you to promise her three things, what would you do? Of course, you’d do anything under those circumstances. And, when you’re fifteen, and those promises either don’t make sense or are unrealistic or you disagree with them, what would you do then? Keep them? Find loopholes? Well, that’s Shelby’s dilemma.

Shelby’s father, who for the past five years, has been a relatively silent house partner, gets involved in planning the Princess Ball, a father-daughter dance, and wants to attend with Shelby. That’s all well and good, but there are vows that the daughters must make, part of which is purity (abstinence) until marriage, of which Shelby disagrees. So, she goes looking for pre-Princess Ball sex (the loophole being if you’ve done it before the vow, then the vow is null and void).

I’ll let you read the book to find out what happens. But here are the different sads:

1. A 10-year-old (or anyone, for that matter) losing a loved one to cancer. We adults can’t come to grips with “God’s plan” or the withering of a body. How can a 10-year-old?

2. Pearce makes a point at the end about taking promises literally or understanding the meaning. Shelby’s relationship with her father is the result of a literal translation but there is so much missed as a result. But then again, can a 10-year-old read between the lines? Can a grown man read between the lines?

3. Although Pearce makes and reinforces the distinction between ‘getting laid’ and ‘making love’, Shelby and her friends’ cavalier attitudes to losing their virginity (both boys and girls) is unnerving for an old guy like me. And while pre-marital, extra-marital affairs are commonplace in our world, I would hope I’ve instilled in my children that making love is special and getting laid is vulgar. (My own humble opinion, folks.)

4. More melancholy than sad are the memories of moms (and dads) who have passed away. Regardless of your age, those memories remain and Pearce says it wonderfully.

“People expect you to miss the big things after someone you love dies. They expect you to think about graduating, falling in love, getting married without your mother there. And I do think about those things. But the things I really miss are smaller, fractions of my life intersected with hers, the moments I didn’t bother remembering because they seemed too unimportant–going to the grocery store, coming down the stairs in the morning, watching television, folding laundry.  Things that happened a thousand times that will never, ever happen again. It’s like a drug that I can’t have, yet am hopelessly addicted to; I want those moments all the time. Some days all I do is imagine them, an endless stream of daydreams.”

From a literary standpoint Purity is nicely written but it’s the story that makes this book worth reading and thinking about. Unfortunately, I find much of it a sad commentary.

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I hate reading about something bad happening to a character I like. So, as I began to like Ashleigh Maynard, I read with trepidation, knowing that Thousand Words is about a nude photo of Ashleigh texted to her boyfriend going viral. However, Jennifer Brown ThousandWords(author of The Hate List) handles the situation well.

We hear so many warnings on the news about what you should and shouldn’t put on your social media pages. We hear about potential employers checking Facebook and its equivalents to see what’s out there on potential employees. We don’t hear quite as much about the impact on teens and their families and friends when a simple mistake, such as texting or putting on social media, compromising photos, be they nude photos or otherwise, goes viral which in this instantaneous, cell phone age will happen.

Jennifer Brown does an outrageous job in the form of high school junior, Ashleigh Maynard, who drunk at a summer party, texts a frontally nude photo of herself to her college bound boyfriend, Kaleb, who has spent more time with the ‘guys’ over the summer than with Ashleigh. The reasons for the photo going viral are important, but less so, than the impact on the characters. What we and our children don’t realize is that both Ashleigh, 16, and Kaleb, 18, can be charged with distributing child pornography.  The criminal ramifications based on the different ages are dramatically different.

Brown describes in realistic detail the emotional impact on Ashleigh, her friends to some extent and her parents, exacerbated by the fact that her father is superintendent of schools in their district. The characters are marvelous. The story rings true. The writing just adds to the realism of Ashleigh’s tale.

In  the hands of a less talented writer, this story could be mundane or sordid. However, we all know Jennifer Brown has talent and she does teens a great service by informing them of the consequences of one ‘little’ mistake. Parents and teens alike MUST read this book.

I”m not a fan of sequels, but the story of Kaleb should be told as well. Jennifer, what about a ‘companion’ piece?

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