Do you remember reading FOREVER? If you, like me, were a teen in the 80s or 90s, Judy Blume’s depiction of teenage love and first time sex was monumentally important. We’d never read anything like it—realistic sex where nothing bad happened to the teens involved.
There is a lot more sexual content out there now, but teens, especially teen girls, are still turning to young adult novels for information. This is one of the reasons that my new anthology THE V-WORD includes a Q & A with teen librarian Kelly Jensen about portrayals of teen sexuality in media.
In a wide ranging conversation, we talk about the best depictions of arousal, body image, gender identity, female masturbation, queer sex, straight sex, rape culture, and enthusiastic consent. Throughout, Kelly recommends go-to titles for teens who want to know more about these issues.
In a recent review on NetGalley, Melanie P. wrote:
I also loved the Q&A after the seventeen essays in this book. Kelly Jensen’s answers are so amazing, and I aspire to be more like her. She is so strong, and such an amazing voice for every young woman out there. I can’t recommend this book enough, just for the Q&A session at the end alone. I truly do believe with all my heart that this is a book all young girls would benefit from reading, because this book explores what schools and other outside sources are not going to teach you.
If you want to know more, check out this great article in the Huffington Post called 8 Books That Don’t Sugarcoat Teen Sexuality and of course look for THE V-WORD at your nearest bookstore.
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I’m a little over-extended.
My normal duties are already intense: writing books, supporting local creatives, taking care of my family, driving the kids to soccer, volunteering at school, and helping with Hebrew homework.
Yet in the past few months I’ve said “yes” to things that added to that load. I agreed to spear-head the creation of a class project for our school auction, which led to many late nights and much worry about whether it would turn out right. I agreed to co-host the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival tomorrow, which involves a comedy skit and song (way way way out of my comfort zone). I agreed to co-write and act, along with my kids, in a Purim play for our synagogue, which added writing sessions and rehearsals to evenings already jammed with soccer practices.
Do I regret it? NO. I chose to do these things because I wanted to do them. I thought they were important and fun. I want to support my kids’ school. I want to spread the love for marvelous middle grade books any way possible (even if it means singing). I want my kids to feel like they are part of a vibrant Jewish community above and beyond going to services.
Of course, there’s a but. As these commitments wind down (Purim is on March 15th), I recognize that I’ll need to say NO for awhile. I’ll need more downtime. I’ll need to protect the space I need to write, to connect with my friends, and to take care of myself (sleeping, running, yoga, rock climbing).
I’ll also need to step-back and reassess my recurring commitments. Have I struck the right balance between my writing, my volunteer work and my family? Am I working on projects that further my professional goals? Am I spending time with people who support me? Are there ways that I can open up more space for the things that are most important to me?
I strive to put my time and energy into things that make me who I want to be. The key to when to say YES and when to say NO is about knowing what I value not what others expect.
“We are our choices.”