To be honest, I was pretty wary about reading this. I mean, I really don’t seem like to kind of girl to read a book called V is for Virgin, now do I? However, the premise seemed harmless enough, and I’m always for reading something with a protagonist who is set to defy society’s standards of what being a teenager constitutes, so I began this with enthusiasm.
Honestly, I really enjoyed it! This book only had one glaring flaw that lay in the grammar and sometimes-horrendous typos and punctuation, but I was mostly able to look past it. (Gasp! Me? Look past a grammatical error?! Never!) Oram’s narration through Valerie was entertaining and fun and mostly lighthearted. Plus, it also addressed the issue of teenage abstinence outside of religious reasons, which I think is a really important point to bring up. Not everyone decides to wait until they’re married just because their religion told them to! Being what it is, there were tons of sexual jokes, but they were mostly inoffensive and funny, rather than crude. All in all, I’d call my first read from Oram a success and I definitely look forward to reading more!
What I Liked: Spoilers!
- I didn’t find out until almost the end of the book that Kelly Oram is LDS, so unrelated to that, I was extremely appreciative of the fact that Robin, the Mormon side character, was portrayed like a real Mormon teenager. She wasn’t some crazy-weird religious freak, like most authors seem to portray us. Isaac, Valerie’s boyfriend for most of the book, was also Mormon, although nobody came out and said it. And they were just normal. I breathed this gigantic sigh of relief when Robin was introduced and she didn’t come across as a giant weirdo. There’s some sort of stereotype about Mormon teens being bizarre, but we’re honestly just like everyone else except with less cursing, alcohol, and sex. It was thrilling. I was thrilled. I have never seen a book thus far that isn’t “LDS YA” that actually portrays LDS kids correctly.
- All that being said, Valerie, our main character, isn’t Mormon. Her reasons for wanting to save it for marriage are completely unrelated to having a religion that supports such a statement. I think that’s something I always have a hard time explaining when I’m asked about it—that it’s not just because of my faith, that I’m not following blindly with something I don’t genuinely want to do. In the book, Valerie says to Kyle, “I think that if I truly found someone who loved me like that, he’d be willing to marry me. He’d be willing to wait for me. If whoever he is isn’t willing to commit his life to me, then he doesn’t deserve to share that experience with me.” That statement might not be true of everyone who decides to wait—there are lots of reasons for wanting to wait—but I know that reason is very true of me, and at least eighty-nine other people who highlighted that part of the book, hahah. The point is that this explanation can apply to anyone, of any faith or background. It takes sex away from religion and places it in the hands of an unbiased teenage girl who just wants to have something special and know that the person she shares that experience with actually loves her. I think almost any girl (or boy), regardless of whether they have chosen to wait or not, can relate to that on a very basic level. We don’t have to talk about religion to talk about abstinence. And I really liked that this book sent that message. On a related note, I also liked that Oram showed that Valerie does have desires and passion and physical longings, but she chooses not to act on them because she doesn’t want to regret going back on the promise she made to herself. She feels it just as much as anyone else, and even when Kyle tried to persuade her and said he loved her, she didn’t need to give in to resolve the book. Her magical revelation didn’t occur through finally doing it. It showed that it’s perfectly fine to stay true to who you are, even when faced with someone you know does love you.
- When it comes down to it, this was just an entertaining book. It was funny, and it wasn’t cliché—despite what you would think, Valerie actually didn’t end up with any of the various guys who showed interest in her throughout the novel, and I felt like that was very bold of a chick-lit, somewhat-romance-driven YA book. I usually hate “years later” epilogues, but it really worked in this one. And even though I thought Kyle was mostly a d-bag, when he showed up in the epilogue to say he’d realized that life doesn’t have to be about sleeping around, I was actually kind of glad that it was hinted that they would get together eventually. Everything progressed well and went smoothly, and I liked pretty much the entire book.
What I Didn’t Like:
- I’m not a fan of the representation that best friends are side characters. I could tell immediately that Cara was a little bit more than a side character, but when she and Valerie fought and Valerie finally split them up “officially”, it was never addressed that she must have gone through heartbreak. Whether you’re the one who call off a friendship that has existed since the beginning of time or not, losing a best friend hurts. But apparently four years passed and Valerie found a new best friend in Robin and it was no big deal? I just didn’t like it. We spent more time talking about the break up between Zach and Valerie than what losing Cara would mean to her (which would be ten thousand times worse, if you ask me), and I just can’t stand that viewpoint in books that best friends are pretty much meaningless. That’s the impression I got with the zero-coverage at the end of the book.
- Despite that, the only huge flaw this book had that prevented a five star rating was the grammar. There were just so many typos. “You’re” when it should have been “your”. No ending quotation marks after some dialogue. A disgusting misuse of commas when there should have been dashes or colons to mark a bigger pause. It was just…poorly edited. On a technical level, poorly written, even if it did come out with a great story. I think it’s sad, because I genuinely loved just about everything else about this book, but there were just too many errors for me to pass up without mentioning. It needed another solid round on editing before being published—people shouldn’t be expected to pay money for poorly edited work.
Overall: I know the title might seem a little off-putting to certain crowds, but this book really is worth it, despite its flaws! It was fun and energetic, and while it was a little corny and unbelievable sometimes, it was still enjoyable. I definitely had a good time reading it, and I would recommend it as something lighthearted. It addressed several important issues that teens face, in a non-threatening and unintimidating light, and that was extremely important to me! I definitely look forward to reading more of Oram’s work, though I do hope that her other books are a little more thoroughly edited!