Anatomy of a Boyfriend and Anatomy of a Single Girl

By Daria Snadowsky
Published on 1/9/07
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Before this all happened, the closest I'd ever come to getting physical with a guy was playing the board game Operation. Okay, so maybe that sounds pathetic, but it's not like there were any guys at my high school who I cared to share more than three words with, let alone my body.

Then I met Wes, a track star senior from across town. Maybe it was his soulful blue eyes, or maybe my hormones just started raging. Either way, I was hooked. And after a while, he was too. I couldn't believe how intense my feelings became, or the fact that I was seeing—and touching—parts of the body I'd only read about in my Gray's Anatomy textbook. You could say Wes and I experienced a lot of firsts together that spring. It was scary. It was fun. It was love.

And then came the fall.

I should preface this review with the fact that this is not my normal genre.  At all.  I originally got the request back in (gulp) June, and I finally got around to read it and the sequel, Anatomy of a Single Girl, which was more recently published.  The original email I got said that young readers would find this to be like the Judy Blume of the now generation.

If this is what sex and love is about now, I am going to lock my son in his room until he is 40.  Sheesh.

In some sense, I think the author does a great job of expressing the way modern relationships work while still conveying the ridiculous and unprecedented feverish obsession of "love" in high school.  The main character, Dominique (which does not fit her character at all, by the by), seems fairly normal.  The fervor with which she falls for Wes will probably feel familiar to anyone who has ever been a teenage girl.

I don't want to give anything away to anyone who wishes to be surprised, so....

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wes, in typical dumb boy style, just kinda falls out of love with her but does not know exactly how to break it off, so just starts blowing her off...  at least, when they are not having sex.  She, meanwhile, makes it into some fantasy fairy-tale romance in her head, until they finally break up because he starts thinking with his (other) head.

Again, the themes are quite common, and Snadusky does a great job detailing out those feelings.  She definitely brought back a lot of my own memories of unrequited love.

However, I am pretty sure Judy Blume left out orgasms.  And, actually, Dominique never gets to have one either until the next book, I think.  I forget when she gets the dildo.  No, really.

 Honestly, the book is not bad at all.  I guess the real issue I have is with the next book, so why don't I just move on to it?

By Daria Snadowsky
Published on 1/8/13
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
After everything that happened—my first boyfriend, my first time, my first breakup—jumping back into the dating game seemed like the least healthy thing I could do. It’s not that I didn’t want to fall in love again, since that’s about the best feeling ever. But as a busy college premed still raw from heartbreak, which is the worst feeling ever, I figured I’d lie low for a while. Of course, as soon as I stopped looking for someone, an impossibly amazing—and devastatingly cute—guy came along, and I learned that having a new boyfriend is the quickest way to recover from losing your old one.

The moment we got together, all my preconceptions about romance and sex were turned upside down. I discovered physical and emotional firsts I never knew existed. I learned to let go of my past by living in the present. It was thrilling. It was hot. It was just what the doctor ordered.

But I couldn’t avoid my future forever.

In Daria Snadowsky’s daring follow-up to Anatomy of a Boyfriend, eighteen-year-old Dominique explores the relationship between love and lust, and the friendships that see us through.

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, so here is the real summary of this book:  Dominique finds her inner slut.

No, no, she is not sleeping with every person that walks by...  but she is having a lot of sex with a guy that she knows is just a fling.  The author passes this off as almost a feminist girl-power find-yourself sort of thing.  I apologize, but it is not okay for girls to do this.  It is not okay for guys to do this.  It is not okay, and I would not want my teenage daughter to read this and think that is just a natural phase.

Perhaps I am being too harsh.  Maybe everyone does go through a slutty phase.  In college, I hooked up with some guys I should not have, but there were a couple of differences:  1) They were in love with me (maybe that makes it worse?) and 2) I really wanted to make it work with them, though at the end of the day, I couldn't.  And, come to think of it, I DID have a purely summer fling when I was in high school...  but it went as far as kissing because I knew it was just a summer fling and there was no way he was getting into my pants when it was not serious.  Dominque, however, knows what she is getting into, and it is for the almighty Big O, and that is about it. 

I will give the author some props:  Dominique insists that before these two start having crazy monkey sex, they both need to get tested for STDs.  Yes!  Good!  I have told my students numerous times that if you are too scared to talk to your partner about the issues surrounding sex, then you probably should not be having it.

She also uses dental dams.  Shudder.

It IS fantastic that Dominique is up on her Sex Ed and STD-prevention.  Bravo.

The issue is that Dominique is using her sexuality to try to become happy with herself....  and that NEVER works.  Trust me, been there, done that.  It is an amazingly powerful feeling to know that someone lusts after you, but if you are unhappy with yourself, only you have the ability to change it - having lots of great sex is not going to do it. 

Yet, in this book, it seems it does.  Dominique ends her summer fling at the end of the summer and realizes that, while it was fun, she has to go back to school and be alone, and she is okay with that.  I guess being friends with benefits solved all her problems.  Like that EVER EVER pans out in real life!!!!

Some other things that are a bit icky in these books:
-  Dom's bff IS actually a slutty slut, sleeping around with everyone that has something swinging between their legs.  It is passed off as her being strong and proud of her sexuality.  In the second book, she gets a long term boyfriend, a cliche pregnancy scare, and a gut-wrenching break up of her own.  She magically begins to see that true vulnerability lies within committed relationships yadda yadda yadda....
-  Dom has a stalker at college.  Yes, a true creepy a-hole guy who hits on her until *poof* they become college besties.  He has the hots for her, but Dom views him as just friends, until he gets a girlfriend over the summer, and Dom becomes the green-eyed monster.  Good thing they broke up just as fall semester starts!  New book title:  Anatomy of a Best Friend, all about how Dom and stalker build a loving relationship based on friendship AND sex!  Best of both worlds!  Sigh.

So, anyway, I apologize for any snarkiness.  I am just not sure how I feel about these books.  Certainly themes ring true and bring up memories.  But it makes me incredibly sad to think about the shallowness of relationships that both of these books represent.  Yes, maybe everyone has these experiences...  but I can at least hope that my son is not a 1) loser, 2) sex-fiend, or 3) creepy stalker.  None of these guys treat the girls with any respect...  but can you blame them, when they do not respect themselves?

~ Ericka

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