Losing It

Edited by Keith Gray. Lerner/Carolrhoda Lab, $17.95 (200p) ISBN 978-1-4677-2041-0

Ten authors approach the subject of losing one’s virginity from a variety of angles in a collection of stories first published in the U.K. In Andrew Smith’s “Green Screen,” one of two stories original to the U.S. edition, a dorky sophomore feels out of his depth when he’s partnered with a 12th-grade “reformed slut” on a class project; A.S. King inverts the idea of a “promise ring” in the other new story, as the ring a girl receives from an older guy turns out to stand for very little. In Patrick Ness’s “Different for Boys,” about the changing relationships among a group of boys, profanity and mentions of sex are blacked out like a classified document. Mary Hooper offers a welcome bit of historical perspective with the heartbreaking story of a Victorian girl forced into prostitution, while Bali Rai contributes a brutal account of an honor killing. While sex and its implications loom in the minds of nearly all of the characters, the authors are more interested in the buildup to, aftermath of, and emotions surrounding the act than in the act itself. Sometimes funny, sometimes painful, and thoroughly thought-provoking. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)