, author of Smack
, has written what is potentially the most controversial young adult novel ever. Doing It
is an honest and funny book about three teenage British boys learning about themselves and life through their sexual experiences. But here's the catch: the story is told from the point of view of the hormone-sodden young males, naughty bits and all.
Gorgeous Dino thinks that equally gorgeous Allie should realize that they belong together and is puzzled and frustrated when their passionate lovemaking always ends with her refusing him. Jonathan fancies sensible, sexy Deborah but can't admit it to his friends, even after several steamy grope sessions, because she is
plump. And Ben is living every teenage boy's dream, an affair with a lusty teacher--but somehow it's getting to be too much of a good thing.
Nearly all YA novels about love and sexuality are told by and for girls, like Judy Blume's groundbreaking classic, Forever. The contrast here is striking--as Burgess said in an interview, "I wrote Doing It because I do believe that we have let young men down very badly in terms of the kinds of books written for them. This book is my go at trying to bring young male sexual culture into writing." The result is surprising but educational for female readers. Wisely, the publisher has kept the British slang terms for sexual acts and body parts, rather than using the American four-letter words, a factor that will make the book less of a hot potato for librarians and teachers, but not diminish the reading pleasure for the inevitable hordes of young male readers. (Ages 14 and older) --Patty Campbell
From School Library Journal
Grade 10 Up–Three teenaged boys enjoy talking about, thinking about, and joking about sex. Dino finally establishes a relationship with Jackie, the prettiest girl in school, who will allow all sorts of sexual liberties, but draws the line at intercourse. He finds another girl whom he mistakenly thinks he can use for sex while keeping his relationship with Jackie viable. In the meantime, he witnesses his mother passionately involved with a man who is not his father, and must deal with the results of his own treacherous behavior as he watches his parents' marriage fall apart. Ben finds himself steeped in a dilemma of a different sort. His 20-something drama teacher chooses him to be her secret sexual playmate, which he first enjoys but then desperately tries to escape. Jonathon's predicament involves his budding romance with Deborah, an overweight girl whom everyone likes as a friend, but not a girlfriend. He has to decide whether to follow his heart, despite taunting from his peers. Burgess's novel, which retains its original British terminology and sexual slang, is crude, irreverent, and explicit, yet honest and frequently funny. At first, the sexual elements are uncomfortably overwhelming, but Burgess gradually twists the story so that the characters' personal situations become prominent, with casual sex secondary. The seemingly callous male characters become more sympathetic as their personalities, feelings, and problems are unveiled. The female characters are not afforded the same sensitivity. Readers may be drawn in by the intense sexual tone, and find a well-developed story that will spark reflection on the meaning and strength of peer and romantic relationships.–Diane P. Tuccillo, City of Mesa Library, AZ
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