Sex: A Book for Teens: An Uncensored Guide to Your Body, Sex, and Safety
Zest Books/Orange Avenue Publishing
Aimed at ages 15 and up, this is an explicit and humorous guide to everything teenagers long to know about sex. In savvy style and format, Nikol Hasler speaks her audience’s language. Lists, sidebars, digestible chunks of text and cartoons in brown and blue match the wide, colored borders.
An advice columnist and writer and host of the online “Midwest Teen Sex Show,” Hasler introduces herself in “leather duds” in a still from “Fetishes,” one of the show’s three-minute comedy videos – a clue that her approach isn’t “condescending or just plain boring.” Instead of telling you “to have or not have sex,” she says, her book explains “what you will need to know if you are having sex, or ever will.” Meanwhile it’s “OK to laugh,” says Hasler. “After all, sex is a serious topic, but it’s also pretty funny.”
It’s refreshing to laugh as the inevitable opening chapter on plumbing takes the embarrassment out of “body parts that could potentially get stinky,” with details not only on how they work but how to keep them clean. Next Hasler describes all forms of sexual identification from straight to transgender, reassuring those who are “freaking out” about choosing a label: “You can take as long as you like.”
Hasler offers five questions to consider before deciding if you’re ready to “take part in any sexual activity.” After presenting foreplay as “fun stuff that’s safer” than going all the way in oral, vaginal or anal sex, she describes techniques and positions. A nearby box emphasizes, “It Has to Be Consensual,” or else it’s sexual abuse or rape, suffered by one of every five girls and one in 10 boys.
This mix of overt detail with insistence on self-respect and care for one’s partner is a hallmark of Hasler’s guide, whether discussing sexually transmitted infections, birth control methods or pregnancy.
A final chapter about communicating urges teens to “educate your parents about your world.” All chapters end with related “Q & As” in comic balloons. An online resource list is provided.
Hasler packs an impressive wealth of information into a compact handbook full of compassion and a sense of adventure, balancing a supportive tone with uncompromising standards and just the right dose of irreverence to engage this generation. (703) 661-1570, www.zestbooks.net.