September 27, 2017
It upends a lot of romantic tropes
There is a small group of people who have vocally lambasted this book for being "sexist." There is another group of people who find it an amazingly thoughtful critique of the ways that men and women can feel trapped in particular roles and identities. I am in the latter camp. The set up of the book feels like the beginning of an erotic story meant for teenage boys. It very realistically depicts the way some boys talk about and think about girls. The book does NOT indicate that these people are correct to speak about women in this way. In fact, there are frequently indications from the narrator that he is bothered by thinking of women in sexist ways. The Girls of the book are depicted in very stereotypical ways for a very particular reason that becomes clear as the book progresses. The depiction of the girls ends up being a fantastic critique of the messages that mass media and consumer culture send to women, but it seems like some readers don't pick up on that aspect of it, and maybe it is true that younger readers who are not good at picking up on irony and the concept of an unreliable narrator might take too much of the book literally. I am a 40+ year old reader, and strangely enough, I felt like I was the best audience for this book. The book is ultimately a tale about the life changing moments we pass through in life and that is a theme that the average teenager doesn't quite get. I think this story might resonate most with someone who has just come home from a summer camp, or graduated from High School or College. The book very realistically depicts A LOT of talk about sex, drinking, and drug use. I do not consider it too much, it is just a realistic amount for the group of people that the book is depicting. Ultimately, I think it is a mistake to consider this a Young Adult book.