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This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Twenty-one year old Ellie is a virgin and she is sick of feeling like a pariah because of it. She's determined to shed this particular label and move on to the world of sexually active-ness. She's not a virgin due to religious beliefs or the need to save herself for "the one," she has just lacked the opportunity to break her hymen. Can she find someone to shag or will she remain untouched for the rest of her uni days?
Okay, normally I go through my thoughts on characters and their relationships and that such nonsense, but here I only really have one comment. This novel is revolutionary in many ways, but it felt very immature to me at moments. I needed to get that out there first, before I go into character description.
Ellie is a very smart character who is portrayed as hilariously funny, but she didn't come off that way to me. Maybe my humor is different than hers, but half the time she was amusing and the other half she was annoying. I can relate to her in a many ways, being a size 12 with self-confidence issues and a general awkwardness around people. Yay, finally a lead character who isn't portrayed as a stick, yay for a normal size woman. But she just seemed ignorant in a lot of ways that I wouldn't expect a twenty-one year old who hasn't lead a sheltered life to be. For someone who claims to have scoured magazines for tips on how to do sexual things well and general life tips, she sure doesn't know much. I read Cosmo as a teenager and I know they have much more information in there than she seems to know. Now I could be completely wrong because I'm not a virgin and haven't been for a very long time, nor am I a 21 year old college student, but she just irritated me a lot.
She spends a lot of time with her two friends, Emma & Lara. They are different, each with good and bad qualities. I won't go into a lot of detail, but they were both a good influence on her in the end. Then there is Jack, the main guy in this story. He is far from perfect, but he seems to be a straight forward enough guy. He is nice to Ellie, they go on several dates and spend more than one evening making out. He was generally not a jackass, which is why I don't understand the ending. He was sweet to her and patient, never pushing her further than she wanted to go, and then he turns out to be a clueless idiot? Maybe I'm out of touch with these university kids just a few years younger than me, but when you go on dates and makeout, you are more than friends, yes? Unless there is some sort of discussion spelling out the friends with benefits plan, you assume a romantic relationship, right? I know I would.
Despite those issues, this novel really has some shining moments. It gives you a no holds barred account of Ellie's attempts to transform herself into what society expects. We get the gory details of everything from bar flirting to her very first Brazilian wax (something I hope never to experience). Even though I wanted to yell at her for some of the questionable decisions she made, I got to see them and feel them with her, which is truly a remarkable experience. Most authors aren't brave enough to give an in detail description of a Brazilian wax (again, never never never) or a first trip to a sex shop. We get it all from Ellie's embarrassed perspective, until she finally gets some confidence.
In the end, though Ellie bugged me, I would highly recommend this novel. It was truly raw and unlike anything I've ever read. The best way I can describe it is a grown-up version of The Confessions Of Georgia Nicolson and that in itself is a high compliment indeed because I loved those books. It's does lack a traditional happy ending, but I like the girl power message it leaves you with. If you are unsure, give it a try and you'll be pleasantly surprised.
****Thank you to Berkley for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****