Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Release Date: 12 October 2004
Date Finished: 26 September 2010
Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid
Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, Reading Resolutions, Women UnBound, YA Reading Challenge, GLBT Challenge, Hogwarts Reading Challenge,
The Short and Sweet of It
The summer before their senior year, the Bermudez Triangle finds themselves spending time apart. Nina heads off to a leadership program, where she falls in love with an environmentally conscious-hippie-ish Steve. Mel and Avery have their own summer romance back at home. With each other. When she returns, she is surprised and confused by the separation she feels from Mel and Avery, but things make a bit more sense when she catches them making out.
The Sex of It aka Why It's Banned
Once again, the primary motivation for our holier-than-thou book banners challenging this one is homosexuality. Nothing overtly sexual is detailed on the page. As a matter of fact, most sexual activity is merely suggested, taking place off the page, and what readers get to see remains in the realm of kissing. In fact, this may be the most explicitly sexual passage in the book:
They were kissing.
Kissing. As in kissing.
The real deal. Mel had Avery pressed into the corner. Her hands were on Avery's waist. Avery's hands were lost somewhere in Mel's hair. Full-on, serious making out.
Not too porn-like is it? This is a really tame story, so the fuss seems ridiculous. Perhaps the real reason for the sensationalism is the awesome way Johnson portrays the gray areas of sexuality. Avery is not gay, not bi, not straight; she doesn't know what she is, but I kept thinking about how wonderful it was to see a character attracted to individual people instead of a gender.
Having just read Deliver Us From Evie, I was primed for the following passage:
No one would call Mel a dyke. Mel wore pink shirts and cute little necklaces, and she had all of that long, orangey hair that was always whipped into some adorable arrangement. She hated Mel's cuteness at that moment...Mel had nothing to worry about. Only Avery would be seen as the rough dyke who lusted after the cheerleaders and couldn't be trusted in the locker room after gym. Other girls would put their books up over their boobs when they passed her in the hall, and they'd stop fixing their makeup when she walked into the bathroom. They would see her as a predator trying to sneak a peek or cop a feel...
I found it interesting that both books emphasized the struggles more butch lesbians have over the more feminine-looking. I guess it makes sense - being able to "blend" deflects attention, but Mel certainly receives more negative attention than Avery in the story.
The characters in this book are smart, funny, distinct individuals who felt amazingly real to me while I was reading. Actually, the entire book felt real; the plot perfectly plausible (that was a lot of ps) and the details of the setting and the minor and supporting characters felt authentic. There is no explicit sex, vulgar language, or really anything that wouldn't be perfectly fine for a middle-grade kid to read. And as it is very well-written, I recommend this book for all ages.
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A Sexy Question: When shopping together, do you go into the dressing room with your significant other?
I do, just so you know. I follow Brian right into the little room to make sure everything fits and to just sit down. :) I must admit, however, that I have never made out in a dressing room....
Sexiness Kiss Quotient: