cover image The V-Word: True Stories About First-Time Sex

The V-Word: True Stories About First-Time Sex

Amber J. Keyser. S&S/Simon Pulse/Beyond Words, $19.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-58270-590-3

Keyser (The Way Back from Broken) compiles powerfully candid and intimate essays from 17 women, many of whom are YA authors, about their first times having sex, the pressure to do so, guilt, desire, and the concept of virginity (“Life is an endless roller coaster of first times, of lost virginities,” writes Kiersi Burkhart). Their accounts include disappointing hookups, thrilling same-sex explorations, and the decision to abstain from sex until marriage. In “Openly Bisexual,” Sara Ryan doubles down on the candor, sharing not just her sexual explorations but sometimes florid excerpts from her teenage diary (“The more I consider it, the more I become certain: I want to share all with Robert”); Alex Meeks describes the search for fulfilling sex while coming out as transgender (“I felt doomed to eternal disconnection from my body”). Also included are a Q&A with blogger Kelly Jensen about representations of sex in media, and supplementary resources for both parents and teens. Frank, encouraging, and explicit, these stories never cut away from the physical or emotional realities of sex, and the collection is stronger and more valuable for it. Ages 14–up. Agent: Fiona Kenshole, Transatlantic Literary Agency. (Feb.)