This frank depiction of a teen's first sexual relationship will cause some eyebrows to rise and some faces to blush, but that won't keep most readers from eagerly turning pages to find out if heroine Dominique Baylor will lose her virginity to her boyfriend. Boldly tackling such topics as masturbation, orgasm and oral sex, first-time novelist Snadowsky confidently marches where few YA writers have dared to tread, but her effort to break new ground at times appears too conspicuous, overshadowing other aspects of the story. On the other hand, her witty, first-person narrative and humorous accounts of all-too-familiar situations come off as genuine. Dom, a klutzy, lovable high-school senior, meets her first love at a football game at the most unromantic of moments, when she slips on the wet grass on her way to the Porta-Potty. A "blue-eyed boy," whom she discovers is named Wesley Gershwin, helps her up. After e-mailing each other a few times, the two begin to date. Their passion grows steamier and increasingly physical (at times the book reads like a sex manual). Dom considers changing her college plans in order to stay close to Wes, but after the climax of their relationship (and the book) occurs on prom night, the novel's energy fizzles in a prolonged, awkward wrap-up. Ultimately, this romance offers some insight into a girl's new-found sexuality, but it sends a mixed message to teens, leaving them to wonder if Dom's exploits were really worth the trouble. Ages 14-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA - Stephanie Petruso
Dominique Baylor is not as sexually experienced as her friend Amy; she is waiting for the right guy. When she meets Wes, she knows immediately that she wants him. They soon start dating, and Dom quickly becomes obsessed. She loses interest in the things that once made her happy, like science and planning for college. Like Wes, she becomes a vegetarian and never takes off the mood ring that he gives her. Their relationship seems to move slowly to Dom, but both are curious about sex, and they work their way quickly toward that big step. Dom is certain that Wes loves her, and after the prom, they go all the way. Dom dreads the end of summer when they will head off to separate schools, and once apart, it is difficult to keep their relationship alive. Dom must come to terms with the fact that her romance with Wes is not the great love she thought it was. In the tradition of Forever (Bradbury Press, 1975), Snadowsky's first novel is a frank and unashamed look at teenage sexuality and all-consuming first love. Dom and Amy talk about sex very candidly, and some will think, too casually. Emotionally they approach sex much like adults. Much of the awkwardness of a first sexual experience is very realistically described, but very few of the emotional or physical consequences are dealt with. Teens will be interested in this story for its topic, but ultimately it treats sex too lightly to live up to Judy Blume's legacy.
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
Appropriately, this book is dedicated to Judy Blume, and it may be the kind of groundbreaking novel that Forever was when first published a generation ago. It tells of first love. Two high school seniors, good students, fall in love; but shyness and sexual inexperience dominate their relationship. They see each other for weeks without even kissing because they both are embarrassed to reveal that at 17 years old they have never kissed anyone. Well, kissing leads to petting and mutual masturbation, and finally to sexual intercourse over the next monthsdetail by detail, just like in a kind of sex manual. Various types of condoms, even a dental dam, are described in detail, as are step-by-step first experiences with "hand jobs" and "blow jobs." When Dominique worries that she has never experienced an orgasm, even after multiple sexual experiences with her love, Wes, and plenty of opportunity to masturbate, her best friend gives her a vibrator at Christmas and her problems are solved. Just like in Judy Blume's Forever, the emotional experiences of first love are described as poignantly and as graphically as are the physical experiences, which makes this a novel and not a sex manual. Dom and Wes are obsessed with one another, in every way, yet when they are separated their freshman year in college, within months the relationship changes and fades. Getting through the grief of a failed romance is as important to their story as the sexual details. Snadowsky writes with real compassion for her teenage characters, and this means she cares about her readers. She wants to convey useful information as much as she wants to entertain with a moving story of romanceclearlythis is not a story meant to titillate or shock, even though it might have that effect on some readers.
Children's Literature - Norah Piehl
High school senior Dominique Baylor's life revolves around Science Quiz, college "crapplications," and getting ready to go pre-med in college. That is, until she runs headlong into dreamy Wes Gershwin, a track star at a neighboring school. E-mails and late-night online chats soon turn into a full-fledged senior year romance. Dom is totally inexperienced about sexmost of what she has learned comes from her sex-crazed best friend. Turns out that Wes is just as clueless, but the two of them are more than willing to learn by trial and error. When the lovebirds head off to different colleges in the fall, though, will their relationship survive? With a dedication to Judy Blume, and frank talk about masturbation and oral sex, Snadowsky's debut novel clearly owes a debt to Forever. Contemporary teens will enjoy the updated tech- and pop-culture references, though, as well as the well-realized, engaging character of Dominique. The narrative does lose intensity somewhat in the last third, as the author has to get the characters to hook up, break up, and get over it in very short order.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up
Dominique and Amy-best friends and high school seniors in Florida-attend the big football game where Dom meets local track star Wesley. Wes is shy, and he and Dom e-mail and IM each other for some time before they start dating. Things get heavy pretty quickly and they lose their virginity on the clichéd prom night. Then they go to different colleges in the fall, and their relationship changes. Snadowsky describes Dom's first intimate relationship in frank and graphic terms. This novel discusses masturbation, oral sex, and intercourse both as part of Dom and Wes's romantic relationship and as casual pastime for Amy. For 17-year-old girls, the main characters have fairly mature voices and some of the novel reads like a Cosmopolitan article. The story is not highly original, but it does deal in modern terms with the real issues of discovering sex for the first time and dealing with it in a responsible way.
Corinda J. HumphreyCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
In this sexually explicit exploration of first love in the tradition of Judy Blume-to whom this is dedicated-17-year-old Dominique falls hard for handsome track star Wes, a shy boy who clearly likes her but makes no romantic moves. At last, the ice breaks and the two teens embark on their first awkward sexual experiences. When they separate as they leave for different universities, they're determined to keep their love alive. Suspense ensues as readers wonder if they will succeed. In her debut, Snadowsky describes the sex realistically, without embarrassment or prurience. Yet the couple's focus seems almost entirely on sex, with little concern for companionship or shared interests. Is this about love-or merely hormones? Snadowsky's narrative easily holds the reader's interest with well-drawn, realistic characters, flowing prose, dialogue and emails. Highly reminiscent of Blume's Forever without quite attaining the same depth, but successful nonetheless. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
“Like [Judy Blume’s] Forever, this sensitive, candid debut is sure to find a wide audience among curious teens.”—Booklist
Read an Excerpt
My best friend, Amy, wants to wait until college to “do it,” but until then she’ll do “everything but” with boys she thinks are cute and have good bodies. She thinks lots of boys are cute and have good bodies. One of Amy’s favorite activities is scoping out the jocks at the annual seniors versus teachers football game at East Fort Myers High, which everyone calls EFM. It’s the largest local public school, and as lame as it sounds, this game is the hottest ticket in town the day after Christmas.
I couldn’t care less about sports, let alone ogling athletes, and a school is the last place I want to be during winter break. But I’m tagging along this year because I’ve been holed up in my room all week finishing college applications, and I desperately need a change of scenery. Not surprisingly, Amy’s boy-crazy jabbering makes it impossible even to pretend to focus on the game.
“See him?” she asks me while pointing to one of the senior team’s broad-shouldered linebackers, who’s also in her woodworking class. “I had this amazingly intense dream about him last night. We were in this, like, psychedelic art studio, and I was posing nude for him—”
“Amy!” I cut her off. We’re sitting on the bleachers one row ahead of a pack of pervy-looking freshmen, and I know they’re eavesdropping.
“What?” she looks at me innocently. “It was really hot! Then he knocked over his easel, tore off his overalls, and said, ‘My canvas is your body, and my paintbrush is my peni—’ ”
“Shhh!” I almost choke on my hot dog as I press my hand over Amy’s mouth. “First of all, gross! Second of all, the entire population of Florida does not need to know this.” I motion with my eyes to the cackling pervs behind us. “Can you please tone it down?”
Amy tears my hand away. “Oh, c’mon, Dominique. You sound like a librarian . . . and not the kinky kind.” She grins at me mischievously before turning her attention to the buff, freckled junior on her right. I just roll my eyes in resignation.
If we weren’t in a public place, I wouldn’t mind hearing the steamy details of Amy’s dream. That’s the key to our friendship—we can be open with each other past the point of too much information. She ends up doing most of the talking, though, since she has a lot more experience to draw from. But the fact that I’m probably the only seventeen-year- old in Fort Myers who hasn’t French-kissed a guy yet does not mean I’m a prude. My dreams at night can get just as X-rated as Amy’s, and sure, I guess I’d like to have a boyfriend. I just wouldn’t want to hook up with a guy unless I really, really like him, and in my experience all boys can be classified as either assholes or bores, unless they’re both.
Maybe it’s a blessing, because the last thing I need is relationship drama to sidetrack me from my grades. Amy, on the other hand, has never been the studious type but still managed to score an early acceptance to Amherst College. She’s a master painter and graphic artist, which makes sense given her expressive, exhibitionistic personality. I’m way more introverted.
My biggie Sprite makes itself known a few minutes into the third quarter. I maneuver my way down the bleachers toward the row of light blue Porta Pottis behind the end zone, but when I get to ground level I see I have competition. A chunky mom type with a bulging fanny pack is waddling in the direction of the only unoccupied stall. Nature is calling loudly, so I start chugging across the green, eyes on the prize. That’s when I feel my feet slip out from under me, and the next thing I know I’m sprawled facedown on a patch of newly watered grass.
“Shit!” I shout as I scramble onto all fours. I look down at my sweatshirt and shorts, now coated with wet topsoil. I don’t care if you’re the most confident person in the world—when something like this happens, all you want is the superpower to become invisible.
“Jeez, you okay?” a deep voice asks.
Startled, I gaze up through the strands of my bangs, now shellacked to my forehead with sprinkler water. All I see are blazing blue eyes against a halo of high-noon sunshine.
“Um, yeah, I’m fine,” I gasp, half-frightened and half-hypnotized by his proximity.
“You were fast. You should go out for track.” He grins.
I force myself to laugh. “Thanks, but I think mud wrestling’s more my style.”
He grins a little wider in a cute, bashful manner. My stomach suddenly feels uneasy, but not in a bad way. I don’t need to pee anymore either.
“Let me help,” he says.
Without giving myself time to think about it, I reach for his outstretched hand. He clasps my forearm, since my palms are caked with dirt and grass, and pulls me to my feet.
I’m still squinting from the sun’s brightness, but it’s clear that this boy with the sparkling blue eyes is around my age. His angular features are balanced by his gentle, soulful stare and the shaggy blond hair falling softly over his ears. He’s skinny and tall, around six feet. Amy and I are both five six, except I look shorter because I tend to slouch, which my grandma never fails to give me a hard time about.
“Hmmm.” The blue-eyed boy crinkles his brow while staring at my legs. “Your knees—they’re pretty scratched up. I have some Band-Aids in my car just over there.” He looks at me expectantly.
The part of me that’s humiliated to be standing there dripping with mud wants to run away. But this boy’s rare combination of niceness, humor, and good looks is drawing me in. I can hear a tiny Amy on my shoulder whispering, Whatever you do, keep talking to him!
“Thanks, but I’ll be fine. Um, so, do you go to EFM?” I ask, going for the obvious.
“Yep. I’m a senior.”
“Oh? So why aren’t you out there on the field?”
“I’m not into football, but I know some guys on the team, so I’m here rooting for them.”
“Cool. Well, I’m a senior too. Not here, though. I mean, my best friend goes here, but I—”
“Chiiiild, are yeew alriiiight?” I hear in the world’s most grating Southern drawl. “Ya fell like a rock in a pond.”
Damn! It's the fanny pack lady I was trying to outrun. I instantly hate her for jarring me out of my cute-boy moment.
From the Hardcover edition.