Book Review: The Virgin Diaries by Kimberley Johnson and Ann Werner

Amazon summary
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO LOSE YOUR VIRGINITY? Seventy-two men and women answer that burning question. Hundreds of years of collective experience answer the questions every virgin has. THE VIRGIN DIARIES is a book about sex that really isn’t about sex at all. Rather, it’s about the feelings associated with that first time: wondering about it, worrying about it, the expectations, the surprises and the disappointments. Within these pages are the recollections of seventy-two people, young and old, gay and straight, who responded to the call for answers. This candid collection of stories provides a unique opportunity to be a fly on the wall. There is no commentary. The stories stand on their own, allowing the reader to form his or her own conclusions. Whether you are a virgin and desire to make an informed decision, a parent faced with “the talk” or are interested in reading detailed accounts of one of life’s most personal experiences, THE VIRGIN DIARIES offers confidential insights and illustrates the commonalities we all share: our hopes, dreams, fears and insecurities. It shows that we are all human and therefore, all connected.

My review
In an effort to keep this blog PG/family-friendly, I have purposely not reviewed books with a lot of sex or with graphic sex. In fact, I originally told Ms. Johnson that I would post reviews on retail sites, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable posting this book on my blog. After reading it, I wouldn’t feel comfortable not sharing this book.

The Virgin Diaries is a compilation of essays submitted anonymously. The anonymity allowed the writers to share stories they normally might not have, including emotions they felt before, during, and after. The book is evenly divided between stories from women and stories from men. There are, of course, a few stories from men who had the attitude, “She was there, and I’m a guy. I wasn’t going to say no,” but many of them had an emotional bond with the women to whom they gave their virginity. It does go a bit against stereotype and may give you something to think about.

However, the real reason I think every parent needs to read this, then pass it to their kids to read is that several of the people in the book had sex for the first time at the age of 12. No, that’s not backward. I said 12. Twelve. Do you know anyone who was emotionally ready to have sex at that age? And before you decide that your kids will never do that because they “know better” or they “don’t think about sex”, think back to when you were in school. I went to a small school and everyone from kindergarten to twelfth grade rode the same bus. (Well, there was more than one bus for the whole school, but the riders spanned all ages.) I heard about stuff before I even had a clue what it meant. Then I picked up my dad’s copy of Stephen King’s Carrie from an old box of books he had in storage. I was probably 9 or 10. Not really the best age to be reading Carrie, even though most of the abuse scenes were over my head. I didn’t have a clue. I also remember being in 3rd or 4th grade and a boy and girl two classes younger than me were in the “hidey-hole” in the playset on the school playground during recess playing “show me yours and I’ll show you mine”.  Part of it is a natural curiosity about sex (and anything else we don’t understand) and part of it is the books, movies, music, TV shows all around us.

We can’t pretend that our kids will never be curious about sex. They can either talk to us or they can talk to their peers, who likely don’t know any more than they do. Or they can find someone else who does know to show them. And that usually doesn’t end well.

These are not all, “I wish I hadn’t done that” stories, so don’t expect to be able to just hand it to your teen (or pre-teen) and say, “See? All these people wish they had waited.” That’s not the point of the book. This is a book you need to read first, then give your kids. So you can talk to each other. One thing that I found very interesting was that out of 72 responses, only a handful were still in a relationship with the person they first had sex with. Actually, I think it was three, but I could be wrong. All of those were people who had waited until their mid-to-late 20s before they had sex. Just something to consider.

About the book
Title: The Virgin Diaries
Authors: compiled and edited by Kimberley Johnson and Ann Werner
Publisher: CreateSpace
Release date: April 14, 2010
Pages: 228
Where I got the book: I received an ebook copy free from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 4.5 stars Great book for parents (or mentors) and teens