Wait, What?: A Comic Book Guide to Relationships, Bodies, and Growing Up

Book review by
Mandie Caroll, Common Sense Media
Wait, What?: A Comic Book Guide to Relationships, Bodies, and Growing Up Book Poster Image
Modern, nuanced sex-ed guide fantastic for tweens, teens.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Diagrams, illustrations, definitions, discussions cover puberty, genitalia, gender and sexual identities, crushes and dating, consent, sex, etc. Various puzzles (wordsearch, crossword, etc.) help reinforce learning. 

Positive Messages

There's no deadline for when your body or sexuality should be at a certain place. It's OK to leave a situation or relationship if you feel unsafe, are unhappy, or just aren't feeling it anymore. Your feelings about your gender and sexuality may change as you get older; that's OK! Show respect by calling people the labels they want to be called. Asking for consent is respectful and necessary.  

Positive Role Models & Representations

Main characters are smart and thoughtful. They represent a variety of skin colors, hairstyles, body shapes, and gender expressions. Max uses they/them pronouns; their transgender sibling explains what it means to be trans, while the other friends are cisgender. Max rejects labels for their sexuality, Alexis identifies as gay, Sam is "all about love," Malia isn't sure, but thinks she's straight, and Rico is "all about the ladies." Rico has a slight belly; all other bodies represented are thin.

Violence
Sex

Illustrations of breasts, chests, and genitals as well as age-appropriate discussion of sexy feelings, masturbation, and sex (beyond just intercourse), as well as readiness for sex.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that authors Heather Corinna and Isabella Rotman pack a ton of evidence-based puberty and sex education into Wait, What?: A Comic Book Guide to Relationships, Bodies, and Growing Up. Several interactive pages, like a word search and a writing prompt, reinforce learning. Five teen friends -- Rico, Malia, Max, Sam, and Alexis -- guide readers through topics such as puberty, masturbation, gender, attraction, consent, sex, sexual identity, and finding support while growing up. The friends are incredibly diverse in terms of gender (including nonbinary and trans characters), sexuality, skin color, and personality. Empowering messages, delivered in affirming, inclusive language, consistently emphasize choice, knowledge, and respect of self and others. Sex is defined broadly, as more than just sexual intercourse, and includes helpful information about readiness for sex. While the chapters about sex are age-appropriate for both tweens and teens, parents may wish to preview content for tweens. This is a thoroughly modern guide for tweens and teens, however they identify.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAndy_W October 16, 2020

I wish I'd read this when I was a young teen!

This is an age-appropriate, progressive, inclusive, accessible guide to puberty, gender, and sexuality for young teens.
I totally recommend it and wish that I... Continue reading

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What's the story?

Along with brief instructional text, knowledgeable Rico, Malia, Max, Sam, and Alexis take readers through each Chapter. They discuss maturity in the context of puberty and growing older, have a shame-free approach to bodies, masturbation, sex, and sexual readiness, use natural, gender-inclusive language to show respect to others, talk about respecting crushes and people you date, and include sexual assault as a part of the consent discussion. Interspersed between content, a coloring page, paper dolls, a wordsearch, a crossword puzzle, and a writing prompt will help readers reflect on and integrate what they've read. End pages include a note from the authors about what to do if you lack friends as awesome as those featured in the guide, an extensive glossary, and a resources list.

Is it any good?

Informative and funny, this slim book is a knock-out success when it comes to what tweens and teens need to know about puberty, gender, and sex. This is a great option for readers who find that puberty and sexuality guides often lack important information or use exclusionary language, Wait, What?: A Comic Book Guide to Relationships, Bodies, and Growing Up has a refreshing, positive stance towards sexuality: It's just another way to express yourself (by yourself and/or with others, if/when you're ready). The language affirms all genders (e.g. "If you've got a vagina," "people with a penis") and sexualities ("Gay? Straight? Both? Neither? Who even knows?"). And it includes sexual assault in the discussion of consent. The nuance it brings to these topics shows a deep respect for tween and teen readers.

One surprising oversight is the lack of a discussion about body image. It's covered indirectly, but a more explicit approach would have affirmed the experiences of even more readers. There are no fat bodies in the illustrations either, which is out of step with this otherwise very inclusive guide. Still, the positives far outweigh this omission, and this guide is a great resource for tweens and teens.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the different genders represented in Wait, What? Why do you think the authors included characters who are nonbinary and transgender? How has your understanding of gender changed as you have grown? What questions about gender do you have?

  • How does this compare to other books about puberty and sex? Did you learn anything new? What surprised you?

  • This book talks about assembling a "superteam" of people who can help you navigate puberty, relationships, and sex as you grow up. Who's already on your superteam? Do you have any open spots on your team? Is there anyone you know who can fill those roles?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love learning about their body

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