WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO LOSE YOUR VIRGINITY? Seventy-two men and women answer that burning question. Hundreds of years of collective experience answer the questions every virgin has. THE VIRGIN DIARIES is a book about sex that really isn’t about sex at all. Rather, it’s about the feelings associated with that first time: wondering about it, worrying about it, the expectations, the surprises and the disappointments. Within these pages are the recollections of seventy-two people, young and old, gay and straight, who responded to the call for answers. This candid collection of stories provides a unique opportunity to be a fly on the wall. There is no commentary, no agenda, no analyzing and no telling anyone what to think. The stories stand on their own, allowing the reader to form his or her own conclusions. Whether you are a virgin and desire to make an informed decision, a parent faced with “the talk” or are interested in reading detailed accounts of one of life’s most personal experiences, THE VIRGIN DIARIES offers confidential insights and illustrates the commonalities we all share: our hopes, dreams, fears and insecurities. It shows that we are all human and therefore, all connected.
I mainly read YA with other genres of fiction mixed in every once in a while but I rarely read non-fiction. It is the genre I read the least often. Usually it just doesn’t call to me but when Kimberley emailed me about reviewing this book I couldn’t say no. I am currently working of getting a degree in Human Development and this is a topic I am very interested. Not the topic of virginity specifically but sex and youth in general. The age they begin to become sexual active, the reason for it, contraceptive use, teen pregnancy, and their knowledge on the topic all together. Don’t even get me started on abstinence only education. I am thinking I could do a whole other post on that topic alone. I’m just going to say I think a lot of people should be more educated before they start becoming sexual active. Some people don’t really know exactly what they are getting themselves into, what they should expect, what could happen, etc. This book is all about people’s first times and answers some of these questions.
The Virgin Diaries wasn’t centered on one age group though. People of all ages where asked a set of questions that they wanted in an essay format. There were questions about how old they were now and when they lost their virginity, if they used protection, where it happened, how they felt about it, prior advice, etc. The answers were compiled to make this book. Nothing was extremely detailed and I don’t think anything was shared to make people too uncomfortable (there was a story or two that was definitely not okay but I will get to that).
What I Liked
Every story was different. There were so many different ages for when their first time was. There were stories from both straight and gay males and females. Although the majority of the stories were from straight men and women I was glad to see that not all of them were. It makes the book more open for anyone. The circumstances varied. The outcomes and how people felt were all different. There was a lot of variety and I think that is very important because it shows it isn’t the same for everyone. Yes, some things are the same for everyone but the experience as a whole will vary. The fact that one of the questions was about what kind of advice you would give someone was also cool because those people had already been through it. A lot of the advice was the same but I think it was good. The other thing I liked about the book was that it had quotes and statistics throughout it. They were interesting and some funny. There were even pictures. Probably not the kind of picture you are thinking about though. They were just little drawings of people and things (no nudity. The most intimate picture has to be two people hugging so don’t be concerned). One thing pretty much all the stories did have in common was the advice they had gotten from their parents or religious figures. I think this has a strong message and shows that parents should be a little more involved.
What I Didn’t Like
Okay, so it isn’t that I really didn’t like it and I completely understand why it was done this way but I think it is what keeps this book from being for a younger audience. One of the things stated in the introduction was “It is important to note that this was done informally. Neither one of us is a psychologist, a psychiatrist or a scientist. Because we don’t want the reader to view the accounts through the prism of our perception, we have declined to comment on any of the stories, with one exception.” I totally understand this, I do. The only problem (in my opinion) is that when dealing with a younger audience some (definitely not all. I know a lot of younger people that are more mature than some adults) people might be too naïve and immature to handle this book on their own. There were some stories where they had lost their virginity to someone much older than they were and in that scenario (depending on the state) it would have been illegal. Then there are some other things I am sure would bring up questions and they might not be sure about. For example, in a story or two the girl did want to stop but it happened anyway. I just thought it needed to be clear that she or he should be able to say no and stop whenever they decide. One story in particular was not okay but it did have a footnote that explained how disturbing and wrong the scenario was. It was just these things that make me think it the book shouldn’t just be given to anyone. Thought needs to be put into it and parent’s should be open and prepared for questions. They should definitely read beforehand also so they know what questions might come up or if there are none they can point out a specific thing they feel the other person should know more about.
Sorry, I didn’t expect to write such a long review but it just kind of happened. Overall, I think this was a wonderful idea. It did take me a long time to read but that was only because it is not the genre I am used to. I loved the variety and I think it is an important thing to talk about. I just don’t feel like the book can just be given to anyone without some prior planning.
Favorite Piece Of Advice
“My only advice to virgins would be not to worry about it. Whether or not you’re a virgin doesn’t really matter. The status of being a virgin or non-virgin is of no real importance. As I tried to say in the opening paragraphs, even the definition of the word is ambiguous and unclear. To me the word has no meaning and therefore is of no importance. Don’t let an ambiguous word define who you are. Be yourself.”