Title: The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me
Author: Olivia Hinebaugh
Seventeen-year-old Lacey Burke is the last person on the planet who should be doling out sex advice. For starters, she’s never even kissed anyone, and she hates breaking the rules. Up until now, she’s been a straight-A music geek that no one even notices. All she cares about is jamming out with her best friends, Theo and Evita.
But then everything changes.
When Lacey sees first-hand how much damage the abstinence-only sex-ed curriculum of her school can do, she decides to take a stand and starts doling out wisdom and contraception to anyone who seeks her out in the girls’ restroom. But things with Theo become complicated quickly, and Lacey is soon not just keeping everyone else’s secrets, but hers as well.
This was a decent debut, with plenty of cute romantic moments, friendship feels, and healthy parent and child relationships (plus one that isn’t, but it’s not given the same spotlight), but the best part of this book was how sex-positive it was.
We’re seeing a growing trend of sex-positive books in the YA world, which is great. This one seems to go beyond that, since the protagonist ends up being a bit of a sex expert who has an office in the school bathroom (although that’s not as a big a part of the story as I expected, based on the summary). We get a lot of information just with these short parts, which are only one or two pages long at a time. Some of it seems heavy-handed, especially some of the more feminist-based and consent-based information, but I say that as someone who feels like I’m a real feminist expert, and I know a good amount of information about rape culture and consent as well. So, it might be a little over the top at times, but I think it’s vital for many young readers, and some older readers as well – there were one or two tidbits included in here that I didn’t know much about, as a 25 year old (blame my own health classes – I went to a Catholic school, so it was 100% abstinence-based, and definitely tried to scare us out of even thinking about sex).
I had a little trouble getting into this book, but by the end, I was sold on the cute parts, as well as the important parts. I also really liked the asexual biromantic rep, via protagonist Lacey’s best friend, Evita. Evita is interested in relationships and has had sex before, which is how she first began to understand her asexuality, and we got some good conversations on page about Evita’s sexuality and how asexuality can also differ among the asexual community. We need more of that, and I will forever be thankful for this book, with the freaking asexual flag on the cover (one of the many cute pins on there).
All of this is to say that I don’t think this book was perfect, but it was important, and it had some great friendship and family feels. And, most importantly, I want more from Olivia Hinebaugh, which is the best thing that a debut book can do.