By Kelly Oram
Yes, I know this is a somewhat eye-catching title for a religious book review. However, this is one of my favorite young adult (teen) books by one of my favorite authors. It is followed by a new adult (18+) book called A is for Abstinence. This book combines all of those subjects that are often tackled in YA books these days: peer/boyfriend pressure to “do it,” teen angst, popularity (or lack of same), rock stars, fame, fortune, secrets from the past, friendship ties that break and learning to stand up for yourself/figuring out who you really are.
Val is determined to save her virginity for her future husband. She not only wants it to be special, she also wants to avoid what happened to her young mother who left her on a doorstep when she was a baby. Her own convictions don’t match with her boyfriends’ hopes and when she refuses to go all the way, he turns on her and claims they did but that she was awful. They break up and he goes out with a girl who will give him what he wants. Everyone at school is watching Val to see how she is going to react. What happens next is awesome! Val gets up on a table in the school cafeteria and announces that she did not sleep with Zach, is still a virgin, and plans to remain so until she gets married and no one can make her feel bad about it. Of course, someone has their cell phone, records this and it goes viral on youtube.
Virgin Val, as the media dubs her, begins a movement to encourage others to either remain a virgin or be abstinent. She begins creating jewelry for this and has a very popular blog. Some of the most popular people at school join her movement with surprising results. She also begins raising money for helping young pregnant women. In the meantime, Val has an opportunity to meet Kyle Hamilton, an alum of her high school and a hot and popular rock star with her best friend’s favorite band, Tralse. Kyle becomes obsessed with getting Val to give it up to him, so much so that he records a song about it and inadvertently spreads her message world-wide. The sparks between the two of them are very evident and their dialogue is wonderful. Even better, Val sticks to who she really is, looking for higher quality boyfriend material closer to home.
As a Christian who was put up for adoption, I really appreciated Val’s conviction to remain a virgin until marriage. It was not based on her faith but on her understanding of what sleeping with someone really means – emotionally, psychologically and physically (I would add spiritually). But at the same time, she understood the pressures a lot of teens were under and created a way for others to be abstinent without being guilty. I guess that is what I have a problem with when it comes to Christian attempts to get teens to pledge to remain pure until marriage. Often there is a great sense of guilt if they are unable to keep to that pledge. Or they simply say they are bad and give up on Christ altogether. I actually think a few young women that I know would get a lot out of this book and possibly learn to keep their own convictions in the face of peer pressure.
I highly recommend this book!