Clutch your pearls!

girls-and-sex

(The colors on the cover are not nearly that saturated. My image capturing process seems to need some help.)

Girls and Sex is largely about how high school and college aged girls form romantic and sexual relationships. What do girls get out of it? How about boys?* Should you, the parent, be clutching your pearls? Or worried?

Maybe? It explores how teenagers express their feelings, even if they don’t understand those feelings. It seems, to me anyway, that teenagers have a lot of ideas about what couples (or people who like each other) *should* do. Or maybe what they want to do without a lot of thought about the ramification of those actions.

My personal take as a parent is that my daughter should a) understand what she wants and be comfortable saying no, b) get the hell out if saying no doesn’t work, c) think, as much as she can, before she acts. Consent is hard, and drinking heavily isn’t responsible for a lot of reasons, but, in this case, consent gets complicated fast when one or the both of you isn’t making good decisions.

The book does end on a hopeful note, because it does talk about the fact that boys are often just as confused about girls about relationships. They’re given a different template of how to act, and that can cause its own problems.

Recommended if you have a teenaged child.

* Girls and Sex does have a chapter about same-sex romantic relationships and the further challenges of acceptance around those relationships as well. I don’t want to ignore that. But a lot of “how does he/she feel about me?” and “should I act on my feelings?” holds true no matter your partner’s gender.

 

Friendship and roller derby

Rollergirl

Rollergirl is a not-quite-YA book about a girl who signs up for roller derby camp one summer. Her best friend doesn’t. And so, while it is about the awesomeness of roller derby, it’s also about friendship and growing up and growing apart and taking risks and developing who you are. It’s good if you’re 11 or if you have an 11-year-old.

A sci-fi classic (in my world, anyway)

the diamond age

What’s it about?
The Diamond Age is a classic from 1996 (that feels so wrong to type – I was in college, for chrissakes). It’s a story about the future and a special kind of book – an electronic book before there were kindles or nooks or iPads. This is a book that helps a child learn. It’s personalized to the child – figuring out what they know about both academics and the world around them. It teaches these children how to function in the world, and the goal is not just to make them book smart, but also to give them the drive and the ability to succeed as things change. And not just react to that change, but create the change. Three bespoke versions of the book are made: one for a wealthy man’s granddaughter, one for the inventor’s daughter, and one that gets lost and ends up in the hands of a street urchin named Nell. They change the world.

Why should you read it? 
Disclaimer: The Diamond Age has been my favorite Neal Stephenson book since I first read it. I may have read Snow Crash first, but I like this one more.

Why? There’s the obvious: I’m female and I love reading. I’m generally tech-optimistic, even if I have doubts about our current technology. A sci-fi book about education and reading with women in primary roles? Sign me up.

But I also love it because of the world it creates. The characterization of China was off – Stephenson missed China’s meteoric rise over the last 20 years – but the Vickys (the neo-Victorians) and the other various sects play well together. And I can see a neo-Victorian strain in Silicon Valley, with its insistence on perfectibility – if we could only do x or figure out y, then we could make everything perfect!

It is a classic. Read it if you haven’t.