Vow of Celibacy: A Novel

Vow of Celibacy: A Novel

by Erin Judge


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Winner of the Bisexual Book Award for Best Novel

Natalie has made a promise: a vow of celibacy, signed and witnessed by her best friend. After a string of sexual conquests, she is determined to figure out why the intense romantic connections she’s spent her life chasing have left her emotionally high and dry. As Natalie sifts through her past and her present, she confronts her complicated feelings about her plus-sized figure, her bisexuality, and her thwarted career in fashion design.

Piecing together toxic relationship patterns from her past, Natalie finds herself strutting down fashion runways and rekindling her passion for clothing design in the present. All the while, her best friend, Anastaze, struggles with her own secret—whether or not to reveal her true identity to the thousands of fans of her popular blog and her potential first sexual partner.

Clever, sexy, and hilarious, Vow of Celibacy delves into the perilous terrain of love and relationships, the uncertainty of early adulthood, and the sustaining force of friendship. This is an irresistible novel about the stories we can’t help but tell ourselves about others, and it captures in perfect pitch what it’s like to be a young woman coming of age in America today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781942600725
Publisher: Rare Bird Books
Publication date: 08/09/2016
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,090,628
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Erin Judge spent half her childhood in Brooklyn and the other half in Plano, Texas, and somehow grew up to be a plus-sized bisexual nightclub entertainer who also writes literary fiction.

Erin’s first stand-up comedy CD, So Many Choices, was released by Rooftop Comedy Productions in 2012. She tours nationally with the Pink Collar Comedy Tour, has headlined the Women in Comedy Festival, and has appeared on Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham and NBC's Last Comic Standing. Her work as a stand-up comic has been written about in the pages of The New York Times, Time Out New York, and The Boston Globe. Her writing has been featured in VanityFair.com, Salon, Thought Catalog, the Dallas Observer, and The Boston Phoenix, among others.

Erin lives in Los Angeles and performs all over the world.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

A Book Riot Must-Read Indie Press Book

"Vow of Celibacy is both readable and fun—Natalie is no shrinking violet, and her life and observations make for quite a ride."
Lambda Literary

Vow of Celibacy is a funny and smart exploration of sex, love, and every woman’s road to body-positivity. Its characters are carefully crafted and relatable, whether they have sex or don’t. The ultimate message seems to be that growth and self-realization is different for everybody, and that what it means to love and what it means to have sex are relative."
Foreword Reviews, Book of the Day

“Erin Judge's compulsively readable debut is the rare novel that contains equal parts heart and wit. And yes, it's sexy as hell, too."
Maris Kreizman, author of Slaughterhouse 90210

“Like an updated and more grounded Perks of Being A Wallflower, Vow of Celibacy cuts to the bone. The struggle has never been more real, and no writer understands it better than Erin Judge. There is a dearth of literature with bisexual characters at the center—Vow of Celibacy stands out because it captures the experience honestly and in a way that is so relatable. Equal parts witty and devastating, Vow of Celibacy understands the struggle to find footing in this difficult world better than anything else currently on the shelves."
Catie Disabato, author of The Ghost Network

“A smart, funny, and fast-paced book about sex, love, body image, and friendship."

“Fat-positive, bi-affirming, clever, and fun, Vow of Celibacy is the beach read of your dreams."
Lindsay King-Miller, AfterEllen.com and author of Ask A Queer Chick

Vow of Celibacy is so funny and sexy and heartbreaking and joyous! I didn't feel like I was reading accounts of relationships as much as I was overhearing friends talk about the most vital and exciting parts of them."
Josh Gondelman, Writer and Web Producer for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

“Erin Judge's Vow of Celibacy is a smart, witty coming-of-age tale starring a complex and courageous heroine who stays burned in your memory long after you put down the book. Natalie's bold adventures in self-discovery and desire are sometimes hilarious, sometimes unnerving, but always engrossing."
Heather Havrilesky, The Cut's Ask Polly and author of How to Be a Person in The World

"Every teen girl wondering if she is bi should be given a copy of Vow of Celibacy. Not just because of its honest and positive representation of bisexuality but because it it’s honest towards sex, sexual desire, and body image."
The Queerness

“All in all, this is a wonderful read. Even after finishing, it took me time to process what I loved about it and why I think this is an important work of contemporary bisexual literature. I’m looking forward to reading more from Erin Judge in the future. For a fabulous bisexual protagonist, a well-written friendship, and a story which kept me hooked, this gets 10/10 fountain pens.”
A.M. Liebowitz, author of An Act of Devotion

“The kind of book you keep sneaking 3 pages of because it is so satisfying to do so. I loved it. Would read it again tomorrow. Makes you feel great just knowing its out there. The very definition of a great time.”
Kevin Smokler, author of Brat Pack America

Reading Group Guide

Vow of Celibacy Discussion Questions

Would you like to invite author Erin Judge to video chat with your book club? Visit erinjudge.com to find out how!

In her vow of celibacy, Natalie promises not to have sex until she figures out what the hell her problem is. So, what is Natalie’s problem with love and sex?

Natalie and Anastaze are both kept secret: Natalie by her lovers, Anastaze by herself, to protect the anonymity of her writing. What does it mean to be a secret? What do these two women have to do in order to stop being a secret? Why have they each remained in the shadows for so long?

At the beginning of the book, Anastaze is a virgin. Is this plausible? What motivates her to seek out a partner? Does her journey to open herself up physically align with her desire to take credit for her writing?

In New York, Natalie breaks her vow (or takes a night off) with Deena and Ahmed. Is this a betrayal? Of Anastaze? Of herself? How does the black and white thinking of a lifetime of dieting factor in here? Is Natalie taking a step forward? A step back? Or is she simply having a fun night?

Let’s talk about Ben. Is he an irredeemable jerk, or just a young man who’s conflicted? Does he want to be a good person, or does he lack a moral compass? How do you think Ben feels about himself? What about at various phases in his life:
When he’s teaching at Easton for a year? His first year in New York? Later, in his mid-20s, when he’s dating Amber and sleeping with Natalie?

Natalie struggles with her mother’s insensitive comments about her body throughout her life. Anastaze grapples intensely with the legacy of her parents and their personal drama, which was so public. How do family relationships shape each woman’s journey?

Anastaze reminds Natalie that she forgot to count Julian and Emily in her inventory of relationships. What does this omission reveal about Natalie?

Gwendolyn is another key figure in the book. Is she a believable character, or does she seem too idealized? What does she model (pun intended) for Natalie that helps her on her journey? Is Gwendolyn herself fully realized, or does she have more growth ahead of her? What do you imagine happens for Gwendolyn in the new year? What does her future hold?

How is Natalie’s journey in the world of fashion similar to Anastaze’s journey in the world of writing? How are their career paths different? How do factors like sexism and other prejudices echo and interact with the challenges they face in their personal relationships?

When Natalie goes to see Tyler’s band as an adult, does what happens offer some sense of resolution? Why do you think Tyler remembers – and has even told his wife – that Natalie was his girlfriend in high school, even though, in Natalie’s mind, she never was? Does he really forget that he had other girlfriends when he and Natalie were involved? Why doesn’t she press him more about it? Is this a satisfying scene, or a frustrating one?

Why is Alex, who lives in a very liberal city, so afraid to come out as a lesbian? Why is she worried people will see her with Natalie in public? What does Alex have in common with Ben?

In the last chapter, does Natalie “end up” with Sean? Is this a “happily ever after” scenario? What about Anastaze? Does her storyline tie up too neatly, or is it believable? Is it too open-ended? What do you think happens next for both of them?

More at erinjudge.com and rarebirdbooks.com/vow-of-celibacy.

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