on June 21, 2012 :
Teen Guide to Sex and Relationships is a well-written, informative, wide-ranging discussion of a large number of topics that teens will find very interesting.
I imagine a lot of teens wish they understood more about the mechanics of sex while a teenager, even if they are determined to be abstinent at that age. No one can fault a teenager for having a healthy curiosity. The book devotes a large number of paragraphs to the mechanics of having sex, including basic sexual positions, how to use a condom, a few basic techniques for how to masturbate. My impression is that this book will appeal to teenagers and will be a book they purchase for themselves. It may also appeal to parents who wish to prepare for conversations with their teens about these subjects.
The book has two authors and features alternating passages in which the authors share their thoughts about various topics. One of the authors, Matt Posner, identifies himself as a left-leaning moderate. He also says "Abstinence ... is the wisest decision for a teen to make ...." I really liked Posner's comment: "If you want to prove you're a man, get a job." (In other words, don't give into pressure from other guys to have sex just to prove something.)
Jess C. Scott, the other co-author, is also the author of a "blog/IM" novel titled "EyeLeash," about a teenage couple that decides to be "friends-with-benefits." She says at the outset that during some portion of her teenage experience she viewed casual sex as a fun thing to do.
I particularly enjoyed the portion of the book related to communicating to another person that you like him/her and want to get to know the other person, etc. I also enjoyed the part about healthy relationships, dealing with jealousy and making relationships last. I wish those chapters were at the beginning, where teens might be more likely to absorb them, rather than in the second half of the book.
The book has a long and interesting discussion of what it means to be gay, to have gay acquaintances, to be in the closet, bi-sexual, open to experimentation, etc.
Various methods of birth control are discussed. I believe the authors may not have stressed enough how ineffective condoms can be in preventing pregnancy.
The authors seem somewhat ambivalent on the subject of whether a teen should have sex during the teenage years. They do a good job about explaining the pros and cons, but they certainly don't preach or teach total abstinence, or share many stories of how a particular person saved himself or herself for a future marriage partner and felt good about the decision. They list a few celebrities who announced that they had been abstinent, but they give the impression that abstinence is unusual and a difficult challenge for the average person. A typical remark is "I would recommend that you wait until you are finished with school and that you wait until you have found a person you feel you can be in a long relationship with."
Jess Scott, seems to be more left-leaning than Posner. For example, she says, "The concept of virginity can sometimes be taken to extremes. 'Good' girls are expected to be virgins till they get married." In another paragraph she says it is "fine" to be abstinent (she doesn't say "admirable" or "the best option"). In another paragraph she uses the words "complete repression" in relation to abstinence. I imagine some teens who choose abstinence do not feel they are repressing their sexuality, exactly. Perhaps they are saving it for a special occasion in the future, so abstinence is more a joyful aspect of their life rather than an unpleasant, sacrificial one.
When the authors talk about teenage relationships, I wish they would emphasize that a teenage couple can have a profound bond while still avoiding teenage sexual activity. A longer discussion of various ways young couples could express their affection for each other without sex would have been nice. For example, I heard of a teenage couple that bought each other pajamas for Christmas, and I thought they had found a clever and platonic way to express their affection for each other.
I'm sure there are many teenagers who will appreciate the frank and informative nature of this book and who will benefit in many ways from its insights. I give the book 5 stars due to the quality of the writing.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)