Title: Losing It
Edited by: Keith Gray
Publication Date: 10/1/2013 (US release)
Length: 214 pages
Genre: YA Short Story Collection
Source: ARC from NetGalley
Losing It is a collection of short stories about virginity.
You heard me right. What a fascinating little idea. And, as I will say many times throughout this review, a well-executed one. I was expecting a lot of teenage drama and awkward sex scenes. What I got was an incredibly diverse collection of stories analyzing the first time from many different perspectives. Love. Awe. Social status. Obligation. Fear. Requirement. Prostitution. Curiosity. Confusion. I should have known that, with such a cool group of contributing authors, this collection would blow my mind. Here’s what’s inside:
“Scoring” Keith Gray — Should an athlete lose his virginity the night before the big game?
“Sticky Fingers” AS King — A girl gets caught shoplifting for a boy.
“The Age of Consent” Jenny Valentine — An elderly houseguest starts going all TMI at the dinner table.
“Chat-Up Line” Melvin Burgess — A freshman lies about his age to sleep with the coolest upperclassman in school.
“Different for Boys” Patrick Ness — Gay boys. ‘Nuff said.
“Charlotte” Mary Hooper –Historical fiction about an orphan trying to support her brothers by sewing shirts for a creepy man
“The Way It Is” Sophie McKenzie — Alternating POV between a girl and boy who have decided to have sex at a party.
“The White Towel” Bali Rai — Set in India, this story tells the importance of being a virgin on one’s wedding night.
“Finding It” Anne Fine — A high school sex ed teachers reflects on her own sexual experiences.
“Green Screen” Andrew Smith — A nerd is paired with a “reformed slut” for a school project.
I enjoyed every story in the collection, but a few stood out. Ness’s “Different for Boys” has an amazing message that I wasn’t expecting and I felt all the feeeeeeeeeelings. Patrick Ness sure can make me feel things. Apparently he can do in twenty pages what many authors fail to do in whole novels, which takes real talent. I also grinned with total joy at the end of Fine’s “Finding It.” It’s got to be one of the cutest, most adorable moments I’ve ever read in a book. Finally, I found Dora in Valentine’s “The Age of Consent” to be a stellar character with whom I would absolutely share a meal. What a cool lady.
The collection isn’t preachy and it’s not promoting any particular kind of lifestyle. The stories are not explicit. Sometimes the feelings are elaborated upon, but not the physical parts. Oh, and this is a British collection, so everything is dripping with UK English. I found that aspect particularly charming, as it strengthened the setting in each tale.
FINAL GRADE: A+ BAM. I never give anything an A+. But this…I will sing this book’s praises across the hills and through the streets. My only criticism is that it could have had a little more sexual orientation/gender diversity.
Required Reading: Required for everyone. Young and old. Experienced and inexperienced. Those in love and those who have yet to find love. All genders. All orientations.
Library Recommendation: Definitely put it in a high school library. I’d put it in my middle school library, but that’s because I make my own rules. This does seem like the kind of book that would be ripe for a challenge.