All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Losing It – Julia Lawrinson

on November 8, 2012

Losing It
Julia Lawrinson
Penguin AU
2012, 247p
Read from my TBR pile

Abby, Mala, Bree and Zoe are the Geek Girls at their exclusive private high school where they’re mostly there on scholarships. They bonded almost right away and have been friends ever since. Now, about to go in to year 12, the talk is suddenly about virginity and the losing of it.

Bree comes up with an idea – in order to avoid losing their collective virginity in drunken fumbles on the beach or behind a seedy club on schoolies week at the end of the year like a high proportion of their fellow students, she thinks they should make a pact to all ‘lose it’ during the year. Their terms, their choice, fully sober and not with someone that they won’t run from screaming in the morning. That way they’ll have no regrets about one of the most important moments in their young lives.

After an hour of debate they agree to make it a bet where nothing will be revealed between the friends regarding their success or failure with ‘losing it’ until they are actually at schoolies. Agreed were the following rules:

  1. Has to take place before schoolies (8.5 months away)
  2. They all had to lose it or at least make a genuine attempt
  3. Absolute secrecy both with each other and everyone else, including any/all of the boys
  4. Results to be written up in a diary-style confession
  5. Big reveal at schoolies

The rules set the girls go their separate ways attempting to each fulfill the bet. They learn a lot about themselves, each other and what it is to really lose it.

I’ve implemented something recently that I call ‘Weekend Windback’ where each weekend I try to read books that have been languishing on my TBR pile for some time and this one was one of those reads. It came out early this year and I bought it almost right away because I’d heard good things about it at a Penguin Teen Aus promo event in late 2011 where they profiled their up coming releases for the first 6 months of 2012. However it ended up on the shelf and even though I read plenty of good reviews for it, I hadn’t had the chance to get to it. I decided to make it one of my first WW books.

After the first chapter outlining the making of the bet, the book then divides into 4 sections, each narrated by one of the girls. First up is Zoe. Zoe enjoys more freedom than her friends, raised by a single mother under the guise of trust is given until there is a reason for it not to be. She makes her choice for who she thinks the best candidate will be and sets about getting what she wants. Abby is the daughter of good Christians, her quiet life disrupted by the return of her rebellious older brother, who left home some years ago and has been a very distant figure ever since. Abby and her parents are both stunned by how changed he is when he returns and Abby is distracted from the bet by thoughts of the time she almost lost her virginity to a boy from her Christian youth group. Mala is suffocating under her family’s strict rules and constant hovering presence. She has been fooling around with her cousin since they were young and she thinks that he would be perfect and that they’re destined to be together until she’s devastated when he tells her that “Aussies just don’t do that”. And the last of the group is Bree, an ice queen with a parade of gym-junkie boyfriends but who is still searching to find out who she really is.

This book is quirky and fun and I think it’s an excellent example of a situation where revolving first person narrative works. The girls all have individual voices and you’re not chopping back and forth between them – you get Zoe’s story starting from the bet onwards, then Abby, then Mala, then Bree. Each section focuses on their attempts to lose their virginity and there’s relatively little interaction between the friends other than brief scenes. This way you get to know each girl and her situation well and you get to experience their journeys separately and individually which ends up being sort of funny when you get through a couple and realise exactly where the author is going with this ‘game’ and what is going to happen at the end when they all share their stories.

I don’t know anyone who made a pact to lose their virginity but I feel like the stories coming out of this book are mostly realistic, especially on the awkwardness of first time sex and negotiating things like contraception, trying to get alone time and exploring sexuality. I actually found Mala’s story most interesting – she’s of an ethnicity not specifically named and her parents are extremely strict. She barely gets any time alone to socialise, let alone see boys. The only time she does see boys is at family functions and she’s all related to them. At quite a young age, she had been fooling around with her cousin, exploring different things and she’s totally in the dark about the fact that in Australia, first cousins don’t date or marry (one of the girls claims it’s against the law but it actually isn’t. According to the Attorney-General’s department, you cannot marry an ancestor or descendant (ie a parent, grandparent, child, brother or sister) You can however legally marry an aunt, uncle, niece, nephew or cousin in Australia) however culturally “it’s not illegal…just frowned upon” whereas in Mala’s culture, it seemed quite the norm, even favoured. This was a hard adjustment for her to make as it seemed that she felt that Mo had been the one for her ever since she was little.

The ending is a little predictable and a touch unbelievable but this is still an enjoyable story. I like Julia Lawrinson’s style, she has a few more books and I’m definitely interested in reading them.

7/10

Book #227 of 2012

Losing It by Julia Lawrinson is the 74th novel read and reviewed for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012


One response to “Losing It – Julia Lawrinson

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