cover image Finding Normal: Sex, Love, and Taboo in Our Hyperconnected World

Finding Normal: Sex, Love, and Taboo in Our Hyperconnected World

Alexa Tsoulis-Reay. St. Martin’s, $28.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-14093-7

Tsoulis-Reay expands on her New York magazine column “What It’s Like” in her debut, a candid study of individuals who “discover themselves” and their sexualities primarily online. The work is divided into two parts: the first focuses on how the internet enables those who might be closeted about their desires to find community. Among the subjects are a polyamorous community in Pennsylvania, a U.K. couple with a three-decade age gap (and a YouTube channel about their experience), and stories of individuals accepting their asexuality (one touching account recounts a man’s first online search of the term in 2000, back when Google was new). The second part includes the column’s “most viral and controversial” interviews and digs into “illegal and taboo behavior” such as incest and issues of consent; readers are warned that discussions in this half may be disturbing (and include sexual assault). Tsoulis-Reay writes about reactions to her most controversial interviews, and is up-front and searching about her own reservations as she mines her moral role in sharing such stories. It adds up to a sharp take on society’s relationship to the concept of “normal,” and the bargaining people take part in to appear so. The result is courageous, curious, and vivid. (Jan.)