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Vow of Celibacy: A Novel Paperback – August 9, 2016
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“A sexual bildungsroman...Vow of Celibacy is both readable and fun―Natalie is no shrinking violet, and her life and observations make for quite a ride.”
"Erin Judge totally hits it out of the park with this funny, sexy, fat- and bi-positive debut novel."
“Millennial women: Natalie is all of us...Vow [of Celibacy] is a coming-of-age story for our generation, told with all the honesty we’d expect from Judge.”
"This novel is a freaking delight..."
"...heart ripping and funny and marvelously written. It’s a book I want to keep forever, and also have copies on hand to give to my friends."
―Lara Lillibridge, Huffington Post
"Vow of Celibacy is both readable and funNatalie is no shrinking violet, and her life and observations make for quite a ride."
Vow of Celibacy is a funny and smart exploration of sex, love, and every woman’s road to body-positivity. Its characters are carefully crafted and relatable, whether they have sex or don’t. The ultimate message seems to be that growth and self-realization is different for everybody, and that what it means to love and what it means to have sex are relative."
Foreword Reviews, Book of the Day
Erin Judge's compulsively readable debut is the rare novel that contains equal parts heart and wit. And yes, it's sexy as hell, too."
Maris Kreizman, author of Slaughterhouse 90210
Like an updated and more grounded Perks of Being A Wallflower, Vow of Celibacy cuts to the bone. The struggle has never been more real, and no writer understands it better than Erin Judge. There is a dearth of literature with bisexual characters at the centerVow of Celibacy stands out because it captures the experience honestly and in a way that is so relatable. Equal parts witty and devastating, Vow of Celibacy understands the struggle to find footing in this difficult world better than anything else currently on the shelves."
Catie Disabato, author of The Ghost Network
A smart, funny, and fast-paced book about sex, love, body image, and friendship."
Fat-positive, bi-affirming, clever, and fun, Vow of Celibacy is the beach read of your dreams."
Lindsay King-Miller, AfterEllen.com and author of Ask A Queer Chick
Vow of Celibacy is so funny and sexy and heartbreaking and joyous! I didn't feel like I was reading accounts of relationships as much as I was overhearing friends talk about the most vital and exciting parts of them."
Josh Gondelman, Writer and Web Producer for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Erin Judge's Vow of Celibacy is a smart, witty coming-of-age tale starring a complex and courageous heroine who stays burned in your memory long after you put down the book. Natalie's bold adventures in self-discovery and desire are sometimes hilarious, sometimes unnerving, but always engrossing."
Heather Havrilesky, The Cut's Ask Polly and author of How to Be a Person in The World
"Every teen girl wondering if she is bi should be given a copy of Vow of Celibacy. Not just because of its honest and positive representation of bisexuality but because it it’s honest towards sex, sexual desire, and body image."
“All in all, this is a wonderful read. Even after finishing, it took me time to process what I loved about it and why I think this is an important work of contemporary bisexual literature. I’m looking forward to reading more from Erin Judge in the future. For a fabulous bisexual protagonist, a well-written friendship, and a story which kept me hooked, this gets 10/10 fountain pens.”
―A.M. Liebowitz, author of An Act of Devotion
“The kind of book you keep sneaking 3 pages of because it is so satisfying to do so. I loved it. Would read it again tomorrow. Makes you feel great just knowing its out there. The very definition of a great time.”
―Kevin Smokler, author of Brat Pack America
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First things first, at the risk of sounding boorish, this book projects "chick-lit" in its design, synopsis, and even the first dozen-odd pages. If you are like me and, for reasons worthy and probably also unworthy, not interested in the genre, you might be dissuaded from giving the book a chance. But don't give in to prejudice--or at least not this time! "Vow of Celibacy" is a very funny, easy read, but it leaves you with a lot to think about as well as "merely" enjoy.
I can't discuss some of the my favorite parts of the novel without spoiling the plot, but one of the most interesting problems of our "postmodern life" that the novel explores--without, of course, resolving--is the gap between the "rules" of a sexual relationship and the "tact" (for lack of a better word) that isn't spelled out in the rules but keep you from being a jerk. In our (neo)liberated age, we're supposed to pretend as if there's no gap: you work out some mutually-agreeable rules, and so long as no one violates them, no one has a right to be upset. The book very cleverly pulls apart that illusion through the narrator's experiences of how people (including herself) trip over, exploit, or manage the gap. (Personally I would have called the book "The Letter and Spirit of Personal Law" instead of "Vow of Celibacy"; which is likely why I neither write nor sell novels.)
Judge's writing about sex, especially young adult sexuality, is also admirably clear, honest, and sex-positive without being a big annoying "I am so sex-positive" exercise. I hope young women and (maybe even more helpfully) men read and discuss the book openly in enlightened places; and that it becomes samizdat literature elsewhere.
Technically there are some foibles. There are too many dialogue tags: the narrator quips and the author helpfully annotates, "I quipped," etc. The non-dialogue is occasionally too close to spoken form, even for a first-person narration: some hyperbolic expressions that are charming in conversation ("my new favorite person in the world") have a false ring when written down. Sometimes, albeit rarely, an extremely funny line or observation is drawn out, when it might have been more effective if stopped short. But these are small quibbles, unsurprising in a first novel (and possibly more a matter of personal taste than aesthetic principle).
All in all, "Vow of Celibacy" is a great debut, and I can only look forward to more from the author!
Erin Judge seems to be a natural at writing breezy, comfortable dialog. Her book is a fun, fast read, and the character she creates in Natalie is adorable. While it may be the perfect book for the beach, you don't have to wait for summer to kick back and devour this debut novel.
Most recent customer reviews
Thankfully no swarthy hero with a "shock" of dark hair glistening on his...Read more