On the Subject of Unmentionable Things

Random. Aug. 2022. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593310571.
Gr 10 Up–Phoebe Townsend, 16, has a secret. She is the author of a sex education blog called The Circle in the Square, which aims to give teenagers all the facts about sex that she believes adults feel too awkward to share. When ultra-conservative mayoral candidate Lydia Brookhurst makes the blog go viral on Twitter with her call to take it down, Phoebe must balance keeping her identity a secret, providing the information she feels teens need, and the start of a new relationship. Readers learn about Phoebe’s obsession with research, especially about sex, and that she is a writer, but very little else about her. Lydia Brookhurst is an extreme character whose actions mirror current political matters. Two potential love interests, Phoebe’s parents, and her best friend, Cora, round out the main cast of characters. The focus on the presentation of factual sex education to teens is the overlying theme that sometimes overpowers character development. Teens will relate to Phoebe and her need for teens to feel respected when dealing with choices about their bodies.
VERDICT A sex-positive read that spotlights the importance of sex education and information. Give to older YA readers who enjoy contemporary realistic fiction with a message.

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