Review: The V-Word edited by Amber J. Keyser

The V-Word book coverThe V-Word is a collection of writing about real first-time sexual experiences. It’s not even specifically YA, though it will definitely be of interest to a lot teenagers. Everyone wants to know what it’s like, after all, even if they’re not intending to find out from personal experience any time soon.

The essays run the gamut from good experience to bad, but most capture the awkwardness of the first time. All the experience are women’s, with the writers looking back to high school, college, or even later. Most of the articles address sex with boys/men, but there are several about lesbian experiences. Some of the girls wanted to shed their virginity. Others were more resistant. Some experienced abuse. One waited until she was married. I won’t go into the details of any of them because it’s best to read them as-is.

After the experience essays are some extras: a short essay about how girls should take charge of their sex lives by: knowing their bodies, knowing what turns them on, knowing what they’re up against (in terms of society’s expectations, ever-present porn, and lack of reasonable sex ed), safe sex, knowing how to talk about it, and knowing when they’re ready. Then there’s an interview with a teen media specialist that talks about how most media targeting teens doesn’t address the female sexual experience at all, usually fading to black; labels like slut and prude frame much of the conversation; and several other interesting things. Finally there is a list of resources for both girls and their parents.

I’d recommend this to all teen girls at least, say, fifteen. Or anyone who’s really curious.