Odd One Out

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
Odd One Out Book Poster Image
Honest, engaging tale of teen sexuality and friendship.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Many sexuality topics discussed, along with and how to have conversations that explore questions of identity and be supportive of those conversations. Because characters are high school students, there are a lot of SAT and ACT words and their definitions used during conversations and as chapter titles.

Positive Messages

The most prominent positive message is to be accepting of different types of sexuality and relationships. There's an emphasis on the importance of consent and having agency over your body and feelings.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jupiter helps Rae find her own voice by challenging her to find something to make her happy instead of focusing on doing things based on how others will feel about it. Both Brennan and Coop show the correct way to gain consent when becoming intimate. They prioritize their partner's consent over their own desires. Jupiter's and Coop's parents model trust, support, honesty, and vulnerability as they are willing to discuss their own faults and missteps. Their positive influence aids in their teens' comfort and self-discovery. 

Violence
Sex

Because book is in large part about struggle with sexual identity, there's frank discussion about sex, lesbianism, the mechanics of sex, sexual feelings and desires teens have regardless of their identification. A girl kisses another without her consent. A girl and boy lose their virginity to each other and it's described, though not graphically. Two girls have sex and it is described, not graphically, but the feelings, pleasure, and excitement are detailed. Erections are described, joked about. Girls discuss how certain images, interactions make them feel "tingly." Some slight "locker room talk" among boys, but it's challenged, as questions of respect and agency are introduced.

Language

Teens use strong language in regular conversation, including "s--t." "damn," and "f--k." Discussion of racial dynamics, and a mixed-race girl (Asian and white) mentions the names she and her sister were called in Tennessee at their mainly white school.  

Consumerism

Brand names used for scene setting: Converse, Mercedes, The Lion King, etc. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults have a couple too many mojitos. Underage drinking is allowed for older teens during a holiday celebration (one glass of wine or spiced cider). A teen drinks a bit at a party. A teen boy admits to his parent that he tried a hash brownie and hated it.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Odd One Out, by New York Times best-selling author Nic Stone (Dear Martin), is about relationships among three teen friends -- two girls and a boy -- who have varying degrees of awareness about their sexuality. Not a stereotypical love triangle, this isn't a competition per se. The story is told from each teen's perspective as the teens figure out their feelings and what that means for each friendship, and shows teens grappling with the labels assigned to people based on who they're attracted to.

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What's the story?

ODD ONE OUT is about three friends, three perspectives, one big mess. Courtney, also known as Coop, is a star basketball player with a lot going for him, including a great best friend, Jupiter Charity-Sanchez. His biggest problem is that he's been in love with her since they were little kids, and she has liked only girls for as long as he's known her. Now, instead of it being Jupe and Coop, it's Coop and some new girl named Rae. He knew it would happen some day, but he never expected anything like this. Will Jupe and Coop survive, especially when it becomes a little clear that Rae likes them both?

Is it any good?

Wonderfully written, funny, and real, this story is a powerful, tender, and timely look into the lives of modern American teens grappling with typical teen problems (crushes, school, fitting in). Odd One Out soars by moving beyond tired, love-triangle tropes as it examines what it means to confront the shifting labels of straight, bisexual, or gay that teens assign themselves and one another. This book covers topics of consent, respect, LGBTQ issues, acceptance, and friendship. The characters are thoughtfully developed and so relatable that readers can't help but laugh, cry, and hide in embarrassment alongside them. Odd One Out fills a hole in YA fiction and provides a wonderful way to launch discussion into themes many adults find difficult to tackle.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the role of consent in Odd One Out. How does its treatment here mirror or differ from discussions about consent found in the media? How does it mirror or differ from your discussions and interactions at school?

  • How comfortable are you with having discussions about serious sex and sex health issues with your family? Friends? What about other trusted adults? What is your source for information about sex?

  • There's a variety of different types of families represented in Odd One Out. How has the definition of family changed? Do you know anyone being raised by two moms or two dads? What makes a family work?

Book details

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