Snadowsky, Daria. 2007. Anatomy of a Boyfriend.
Three signs that a YA novel may be focused on sex: the cover of the book shows a naked Ken doll, the title includes the word "anatomy," and finally the first sentence has the words "do it" in quotes. Yes, Daria Snadowsky's novel--that she has dedicated to Judy Blume--tells the dramatic story of young love. Dominique is a Senior in high school. She's never had a *real* boyfriend. Never been in love. All that changes when she meets Wesley. Wes is a track star. He attends another high school, but he is a Senior as well. The two meet in January, and they fall hard for one another. Within weeks, she has fallen completely for him. She thinks about him ALL day long. And all night long, too. Wes likes her too, even if he isn't a good communicator. Even if he isn't the best at showing his appreciation. Soon they're a "committed" couple in love experiencing a whirlwind of emotions--love, happiness, embarrassment, disappointment, etc. The book takes us from the highs in the relationships--the prom--to the lows when they're getting ready to attend separate colleges. First love isn't always pretty as ANATOMY OF A BOYFRIEND shows. That *perfect* guy might not be so perfect ten or twelve months down the road. Life changes. Love changes. Life moves on around us.
ANATOMY OF A BOYFRIEND is getting a lot of praise for being "daring" in where it goes as far as presenting sex. I'm not so sure of that. Other YA novels have gone there. There is nothing in ANATOMY OF A BOYFRIEND that wasn't already covered in THIS IS ALL. Or SLOPPY FIRSTS. Or SECOND HELPINGS. Or NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST. Just to name a few. But just because it's all been done before, doesn't mean that there isn't any room left for other writers. The question is not *what* but *how well* in my opinion. How well does she write about first love? How well does she "capture" these characters? In my opinion, while Dominique is a fleshed-out character, the rest fall flat. They're not that developed. Amy is a best friend. But how much do we really know about her? How well is she developed? Yes, they talk about sex. But is their relationship in the book anything more than just an excuse to talk about sex? To have these curiousities displayed in the main character? And Wes? How well is he developed? Maybe it's because I'm not 17 but the author did little to convince me that he was boyfriend material. He is boring. Dull. Dull as dirt. This is what we know about him: he runs track; he has a dog; he reads books; he plays video games. There are no life-shattering, intimate conversations where he bares his soul. There is no "inside" window into what he's thinking or why. He's not a communicator. He doesn't talk that much. And when he does open his mouth he is just boring. He may be cute--I can't remember his description--but he's no sweet talker either. There is no *essence* to this character. No life. He exists for the sole purpose of breaking Dom's heart in the end. And the parents? Well, the parents in YA books rarely are developed past your typical stereotypes. Same goes here. They are either singing her praises saying phrases like "we're proud of you" or "we support you" or "we love you." Or lecturing her on how she shouldn't get so wrapped up in a boy that she loses her own identity. So yes, she writes about first love in all its details: its awkward moments, its embarrassments, its joys, its wonders, its heartache, its first bitter fights--it's all there.
I have no doubt that some readers will grab this book off the shelves. They might *love* it even. But it's nothing that wonderful. I think other writers out there have done a better job with characterization that covered the same ground as ANATOMY OF A BOYFRIEND. Since this book is so obvious in its subject matters, readers can judge for themselves if they want to go where this book goes. There will be no tricks thrown at you. You get what's advertised.