The “it” in question is likely just what those noticing the title will expect in this beautifully varied collection of 10 short stories about teens losing their virginity.
Most of the well-known authors here have a flair for getting inside the heads of the people about whom they write, and common themes emerge. Often wickedly funny and deceptively insightful, these stories are populated with multidimensional characters who delve into issues such as body shame, reputation and the disconnect involved for teens in talking honestly with adults about sex. One of the undeniable jewels here is the offering by Patrick Ness, “Different for Boys,” which carries off a brilliant metaexamination of the supposedly controversial nature of writing about sex for teens by using black bars to censor sexual language. “Certain words are necessary…but you can’t actually show ’em because we’re too young to read about the stuff we actually do, yeah?” remarks the protagonist. The only real break in the cohesion is a work of historical fiction by Mary Hooper, in which an impoverished young woman is forced into prostitution—its melodramatic tone is at odds with the contemporary feel of the rest.
This is a fresh, smart collection with a can’t-lose subject. (Short stories. 14 & up)