A heterosexual teen girl experiences the ups and downs of first love and first sex.
High school junior Janey King has never been in love. She’s never had a boyfriend, and she’s never been kissed. She has enough on her plate with friends, schoolwork, the debate and track teams, and her parents’ recent split. Then sexy, athletic, popular Luke Hallstrom asks Janey out. Despite Janey’s insecurity—why would someone like Luke be attracted to a nobody like her?—things quickly heat up both physically and emotionally, and soon they’re having the sex talk: should they, and when? Throughout most of the novel, Janey carries the damaging notion that she needs Luke to validate her. However, Janey’s growth is most evident when she reflects that she doesn’t want to feel complete only when she has a boyfriend, that she wants to feel confidence on her own merit. She credits Luke with giving her the power to allow herself to feel validated without any boy’s approval—a rather dubious conclusion. Her best friends, “fast” girl virgin Sloan, whose nickname is “E.B.” because she’ll do “everything but,” and Danielle, who has a boyfriend with whom she regularly does the deed, both have frank and funny advice about having sex and not having it. Janey’s immediate circle at her La Jolla high school seems to be a largely white one.
This steamy and delightfully explicit exploration of teen sex and emotional growth begs to be passed from friend to friend under cover of the cafeteria table. (Romance. 14-18)