Sunday, June 12, 2005

C'est moi! And that's about all the French I know, but that's okay, because this post's book comes from the U.K.

Book: Doing It
Author: Melvin Burgess
Published: 2004 (in the U.S.)

No, this is not a heartwarming history of the Nike Corporation. And don't we all thank God for that.

Meet Jon, Ben, and Dino. They are teenage boys, which means they have exactly one thing on their mind. But how . . . how . . . how to get it? Dino goes after Jackie, the most popular girl in school who unfortunately will do everything but it. Jon attempts to deny his attraction to his friend Deborah, for the basic reason that she's rather plump. And Ben's actually getting plenty . . . from a teacher. All together now . . . euwwwwwwwww.

As each boy sinks himself deeper in his own personal quicksand, they learn that there's a lot more to doing it than just . . . well . . . doing it.

This book has gotten a lot of negative press for its provocative title, graphic scenes, and what some people feel is an unsympathetic and one-dimensional portrayal of the teenage girls. My answer to one and two: Burgess is not attempting to titillate. Both stem from honesty. As for three, I was actually surprised at how that honesty extended to his female characters, even though he focuses mainly on the development of the blokes. This isn't a story just about sex, but about how sex (and dealing with its peripheries) affects teens and adults.

All the way from Ben's twisted and tangled relationship with Miss Young, to Dino's shooting himself in the foot, and Jon's desperate concern over Mr. Knobby Knobster (take three guesses), Burgess reveals a range of comedy and drama as well as a genuine understanding of, and compassion for, the sheer thorniness of emerging sexuality and oncoming adulthood. If you're not going through that process right now, take a moment and remember it before you pick up this book. Yes, the story is frankly X-rated, but wasn't high school?

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