The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me, by Olivia Hinebaugh
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Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: January 22, 2019
Length: 304 pages
Times Read: Once
Seventeen-year-old Lacey Burke is the last person on the planet who should be doling out sex advice. For starters, she’s never even kissed anyone, and she hates breaking the rules. Up until now, she’s been a straight-A music geek that no one even notices. All she cares about is jamming out with her best friends, Theo and Evita.
But then everything changes.
When Lacey sees first-hand how much damage the abstinence-only sex-ed curriculum of her school can do, she decides to take a stand and starts doling out wisdom and contraception to anyone who seeks her out in the girls’ restroom. But things with Theo become complicated quickly, and Lacey is soon not just keeping everyone else’s secrets, but hers as well.
What I Liked: Hi everyone, I have SO MUCH TO SAY I don’t even know where to begin.
♥ I love love love this feminist, sex-positive, consent heavy, condoms-for-everyone, knowledge-is-power book.
♥ I’m not having my own children, but I feel so strongly that I would be the kind of parent Lacey’s mom is, teaching my kids from birth about smashing the patriarchy and being in charge of their own bodies. I’d want to make sure they have knowledge about sex before they start having it, and that they understand virginity does not equal purity, love is love, and all about ENTHUSIASTIC consent. I may not have my own kids to teach, but I’ve been telling both of my nephews since they were born that they’re allowed to love whoever they’re attracted to, that they can always ask me questions they don’t want to ask their mom and dad, and that I will always make sure they have condoms and a Lyft account.
Sorry Ellie, did I not tell you about these conversations I’ve been having with Dexter and Waylen since they were infants?
♥ Here’s a confession: sometimes I struggle with how we use the word consent. By definition, it’s exactly what’s required–permission for something to happen. But as a concept, it can sound so much like girls passively allowing something to happen to them, rather than engaging in a conversation where you have consent, boundaries, and a discussion of expectations. What this book does SO WELL is have continued conversations of what Lacey makes sure to refer to as “ENTHUSIASTIC consent,” where both partners make sure they’re on the same page and are excited to be there. And consent isn’t just a one time conversation. It’s continual, and even after consent has been given, Lacey and her partner keep communicating. He can sense that she’s nervous even after agreeing to something, and he changes course until she’s comfortable. He checks in. They are equally in charge of the experience.
Lest you think this book is all sex, it’s not. All the mutual respect leads to some of the sexiest on-page sex I’ve ever read, but there are still only a few actual sex scenes. This book is also about teaching girls (and boys) about their bodies, about contraception, about how stupid abstinence-only education is, and about taking a stand with your friends.
♥ Theo, one of Lacey’s best friends, is such a wonderfully soft, feminist boy. He has such crazy respect for girls, plays the cello, has sleepovers with his girl friends, and likes the way he looks wearing eyeliner, so he wears eyeliner.
He’s probably right I mean honestly everyone looks good with eyeliner
♥ With Lacey, Theo, and Evita, we get a trio of friends who are totally in love with each other, but will totally tell you when you’ve hurt them. They’ll move past it as fast as they can, but they’re going to tell you exactly what you did and why it bothered them. It’s exactly what a friendship should be.
What I Didn’t: Hardly anything!
⊗ Some of the prose feels a little stilted, but that might be because this was an ARC.
Favorite Quotes: “You manage to smash the patriarchy with a minimum of raging. It’s a thing of beauty.”
“That’s not the whole truth, but it is true.”