Got this book for my significantly younger 16-year old brother as part of an overall effort after noticing he is absorbing problematic attitudes from teammates and reading about the Steubenville rape case. Everyone says educate the boys, and if a kid with a queer progressive older sister isn't hearing it, nobody is. After skimming through the book, I will list my critical thoughts as the author seems to be reading reviews (awesome). Regardless of these, I think it's good enough to pass on to my little brother, but I will return it in favor of S.E.X by Heather Corinna. The major advantage of this book is its shortness and readability for younger readers.
- I was really hoping that this book would provide more values/attitudes/decision-making of the progressive variety. In particular, I wanted a robust discussion of consent and what is consent, but also: writing about yes means yes type empowerment/feminism, un-learning the silence is sexy script, doing what you want to and not just what you're okay with. This is not really that book and I am not sure that book exists. This book is more what is and how to. The chapter on first time having sex doesn't have a huge giant section on consent - just a general bit on communication, "Always check in with your partner to make sure everything is going ok - that they're enjoying it, etc." It does have a box on consent a page or two into the section on sex (after sections on foreplay, etc.) In general, the order of chapters doesn't make sense to me - I would want communication to come very early on, then protection, then sex - in the book maybe as in life.
- I really found the communication chapter to be so vague as to be almost useless unless someone has never thought they needed to communicate at all. It practically is a long version of saying, "It is good to communicate." Like, one step up from that. Leaves a lot to innovation.
- This is maybe unfair given the book's title, but I felt like almost everything in the book was framed around sex as opposed to sexual activity in general. In fact, many teens are not having sex yet per se, but that doesn't mean they don't need to read the chapter on communication, which is titled, "Communicating about Sex." The book does overall emphasize both people need to be enjoying whatever you're doing, etc., and not every sentence assumes sex, but I didn't love that framing overall.
- This book has enough how to/what goes on information that I kind of wonder if it might be anxiety-producing or overwhelming. It's just a lot of info and some of it feels fairly instructional. Also, wonder if it might be weird coming from an older sibling/parent. I had people from church give me Our Bodes, Our Lives years ago and even though it wasn't a bad book (though out of date) it has always weirded me out that they gave it to me. For more conservative people, if you are not comfortable with a book telling your child about different things people do in bed, this is not the book for you.
- Though the book has a basic, succinct section on gender identity that acknowledges beyond the binary identities, for the rest of the book it continues to connect gender to body parts (as in, "if you are a girl, ..."). Additionally, I felt the book came down kind of hard on definitions of sex. For instance, in the Q & A, a girl is told firmly that anal sex is still sex and not a way to get around virginity pledges. While getting around a promise is probably not a good reason to have sex and in terms of decision-making the advice was sound, I felt the book could have offered a more nuanced view - people can define sex and virginity how they want. Similarly, at one point the book stated that manual sex/fingering was often considered foreplay for straight people but is real sex for lesbians. Ye-es, sort of, but I was kind of offended by that. Why not just problematize/discuss concepts of virginity/sex and honor how people make sense of it (for instance, re-building purity/virginity). Or also a discussion about shame and sexuality. This fits with my wishing there were more discussion of values, like different reasons people choose to have sex and what it means to them.
- I would not give a kid this book alone. I think it could benefit from some more voices of actual teens about their experiences and feelings.
In a nutshell, a good book for liberal parents, as the title says: more focused on sex than relationships, values, emotions, or gender and sexuality studies ideas (although there is some of all of those, that is not where I felt the highest depth or quality was). Pretty scientific. The resources section is excellent for getting Q & A over the internet. Solid but not everything I was looking for.