Losing It

There is a certain irony finding Anne Fine and Melvin Burgess sharing an anthology on the subject of losing your virginity. It shows they have both moved on from their little spat seven years ago. Or it’s simply that Keith Gray who has edited Losing It is good at persuading people to contribute. Keith has chosen well, with all eight authors approaching this topic in their own different way.

I hope I don’t sound like some sex-crazed old woman if I say that I really enjoyed all eight stories tremendously. I’ve said it before and it’s worth saying again; the short story is a very good medium, and we don’t get enough of them.

Losing It

Although losing your virginity sounds as if it’s only about sex, the truth is that there is surprisingly little sex in this collection. So any old people thinking they can’t possibly be responsible for supplying a book of this kind to their young ones should think again.

The reader sees the issue of virginity from the point of view of the ‘traditional’ teenager of today, and there is an ‘older’ person – two, actually – and there is the historical angle as well as the Asian immigrant’s. And then there is the gay experience, which I found very moving and enlightening, and I hope Patrick Ness will write something longer one day, incorporating this side of love and sex. There isn’t just the one gay character, but interestingly the reader can’t be quite sure who is and who isn’t. Much like in real life.

And I loved Jenny Valentine’s story about the embarrassing old relative at Sunday dinner. It had absolutely everything, and so much humour and warmth. I won’t forget Danny in a hurry, nor Finn, the narrator. (I really must read more of Jenny’s books.)

I’m not sure where on the scale of things Losing It belongs. It’s actually quite close to Doing It, with the exception that it’s a collection of shorter stories instead of a full novel. And it’s got Anne Fine’s contribution, which ought to guarantee its proper credentials. Buy it for a young teenager if you have one, or for yourself whether you are fourteen or 73.

6 responses to “Losing It

  1. Such a great idea, and such a simple one, you wonder that it hasn’t been done before. And you’re right – it sounds like a book that ALL youngsters should read.

  2. Intrigued and will look out for it. Thanks, Ann!

  3. It’s the kind of book I’d love to give to young readers, but these days I’m so cautious about offending that I’m not sure I’d dare without asking the parents first.

    Am I being ridiculous?

  4. Not ridiculous, but rightly sensitive. Read and recommend if you think it’s worth recommending. Isn’t that what you already do?

  5. Yes, Steve. In a way. But I’m not physically putting the book into someone’s hands. I just stopped myself before emailing the mother of one teenager to ask permission to suggest the book to her teenager.

  6. That would have been OK, surely? I’d have been delighted as a parent to receive such an email from bookwitch! How thoughtful. Whereas I’d have been less keen on my daughters receiving direct recommendations – unless perhaps from a family friend.

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