Children's books and book reviews - reading resource for kids, teachers, librarians, parents

Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Anatomy of a Boyfriend* by Daria Snadowsky- young adult book review
Anatomy of a Boyfriend
by Daria Snadowsky
Grades 9+ 272 pages Delacorte January 2007 Hardcover    

As a high school senior, Dominique Baylor has plotted the course of her life and given each path a priority: graduate with honors, attend Stanford University, major in pre-med, and become a doctor. Boys aren’t included on the list, but life rarely goes as planned. During winter break, while at a teacher-student football scrimmage, Dom falls, literally, for hunky Wesley Gershwin. The two become friends, and suddenly Dominique’s priorities change. Their courtship is definitely modern-day, filled with text messages, emails, and IMs.

Soon Dom can’t stop fantasizing about track-star Wes, who dreams of attending NYU. Real-life scenarios – conflicting schedules, opposing school activities, different friends – keep the two from spending a lot of time together, but that doesn’t stop the feelings. Dom’s friend, Amy, tells her to go for it, but every time Dom feels she and Wes are on the verge of that first kiss, Wes pulls back. One night when her parents are away from home, Dom and Wes admit to each other they don’t have any “experience.” Within a matter of weeks, their relationship progresses from first base to a home run on prom night. And, after weeks of longing, Dom finally hears Wes utter those three little words everyone wants to hear: I love you. Everything seems perfect.

When fall arrives, Dom is a frosh at Tulane majoring in pre-med and Wes is a NYU newbie trying to make the track team. They’ve agreed to give a long-distance relationship a chance, but as the semester progresses, there’s a definite chill in the air and the beginning of a one-sided relationship that neither wants to admit.

Dominique is a believable character who exhibits normal teenage emotions: self-doubt, determination, first love, self-discovery, heartbreak. In fact, every character in this novel seems plausible. Dom’s parents, a teacher and police chief, show concern but know when to step back and let life take its course. Dom’s grandmother presents a bit of comic relief and also delivers a powerful message about waiting for the right moment. Dom’s best friend, Amy, is an overactive flirt who isn’t afraid to discuss her sexcapades. And boyfriend Wes proves that teenage boys face the same concerns teen girls do and are just as afraid to communicate them.

Anatomy of a Boyfriend is the most honest portrayal of first love and teen sex I’ve read in the YA genre. Generally unspeakable topics, including masturbation, oral sex, and orgasms, are approached in an open manner. It’s appreciated that birth control is discussed between the characters. This important topic deserves to be mentioned, and the author does it in a realistic way. Luckily, the book doesn’t follow the predictable path and have the main character get pregnant.

The transfer of reality to page really sticks out. This could be the voice of the girl next door, the checkout girl at the grocery store, or the daughter who lives in your house. There’s an important message about the pressures teenagers experience in a relationship and how they handle stressful moments they encounter. It’s a candid look at teen lust, teen love, and teen sex.

The only problem is that some of the language feels stilted and out of date in such an upfront book. There’s a very “today” tone to the language. By using words that you wouldn’t normally associate with teens saying – for example, lanky or askance –stands out and gives pause. Fortunately, are were only a handful of these instances.

Overall, teens should identify with the characters in this novel and its portrayal of first love. Even adults who have experienced love and loss will relate to the basic themes of this novel.

Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

click here to browse children's board book reviews
click here to browse children's picture book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young adult book reviews
click here to browse parenting book reviews
web reviews
  LuAnn Womach/2007 for curled up with a good kid's book  

For grown-up fiction, nonfiction and speculative fiction book reviews,
visit our sister site Curled Up With a Good Book (