All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Doing It – Melvin Burgess

on June 16, 2013

Doing ItDoing It
Melvin Burgess
Henry Holt & Company
2003, 326p
Read from my TBR pile

Dino, Jonathon and Ben are three teenage boys and of course, their lives revolve around sex. Wanting it, trying to figure out how to get it, having it, keeping it secret, shouting it out loud, talking about it, everything.

Dino is going out with the most beautiful girl at their school and she even dumped her longterm boyfriend, who was 8yrs older than her, to go out with him. Despite the fact that most of the time she thinks that Dino is a bit of a tool, she can’t stay away from him. But theirs is a tempestuous relationship – there’s nothing more Dino wants than to sleep with Jackie. And they keep almost getting there before Jackie puts the brakes on. She won’t put out so Dino is starting to wonder if she shouldn’t be looking elsewhere. He’s the IT boy – he’s good looking, he’s popular. He shouldn’t be putting up with this.

Jonathon is embarrassed by the fact that he’s crushing on the fat girl and his friends are teasing him mercilessly about it. Despite trying to convince himself that he’s not interested in Deborah, other parts of his anatomy refuse to agree. And Deborah is making it very clear that she’d be more than happy to go all the way which is making Jonathon’s decision even more difficult. On one hand, it’s guaranteed sex, which he wants. But he doesn’t want a girlfriend. Especially not the chubby girl.

Ben has a secret that he’s kept from all his friends. His drama teacher has been giving him some very special tutoring but it’s top secret. No one else knows and what once was a dream come true is beginning to turn into a nightmare. Ben just wants to be free but he’s having a hard time being able to achieve this aim. He just wants to be a normal teenager again.

Recently I was looking for something to read that had been sitting on my shelves for a little while and I decided to give this book a go. I bought it months (a year? more?) ago after hearing about it somewhere – YA from a teenage male perspective. I haven’t read too much of that, John Green aside and so I wanted to read it to see what it was like. The answer is…interesting.

I’m 31 so it’s been a long time since I was in high school but this book did take me right back there, but not always in a good way. Quite frankly, Dino and at times Jonathon are utter jerks. Dino is absolutely obsessed with getting laid and he’s willing to lie, cheat, blackmail, cajole and almost assault in order to have that happen. Most of the book I loathed him. The only time I really felt empathy for him was when the book was talking about his home situation, which I thought was brilliantly done. The rest of the time, Dino was a giant douche but this was matched only but the utter batshit craziness that is Jackie, the most beautiful girl in school. It’s never explained adequately why Jackie “chucks” her boyfriend of two years, the mature Simon and takes up with Dino. She also refuses to sleep with him, despite clearly wanting to. She promises and then backs out at the last minute multiple times and I was thoroughly fed up with her less than halfway through the book. But ultimately, I think that the two of them probably deserved each other.

I wanted to like Jonathon and Deborah seemed lovely but the way that Jonathon spoke about her behind her back was mostly really awful. Deborah is… plump when people are being kind, fat when they are not. Jonathon was turned on by her but I’m not sure if this was just because she was willing to put her hand down his pants or he really liked her but was just ashamed to tell his friends because she wasn’t thin and beautiful like Jackie. Because the narrative is from the boy’s perspective, they really do not hold back at times when it comes to Deborah. I felt sorry for her because I think a lot of the time she had no idea the “jokes” that Jonathon was making at her expense to make his friends laugh. And yet he was still willing to hook up with her.

Ben’s was the situation I was most interested in. I always wonder how this happens, what grown women do see in teenage boys but it happens – you hear stories from all over the world about female teachers being busted having affairs with their male students, even having babies by them. Ben is in way over his head in this one and he begins to struggle, trying to think of ways he can get out of it. But ultimately he’s still just a kid, not yet an adult and he’s outmaneuvered.

I’ve no doubt that parts, perhaps even all, of this book are a great portrayal of the way some teenage boys think and act, especially Jonathon. He is the nice guy, he’s friends with Deborah but he doesn’t want to have her as a girlfriend publicly because he knows he’ll be teased by his friends who all think she’s huge. I honestly hated the way he talked about her but would then front up and make out with her, allow her to get him off, all the while keeping her hanging about whether or not he wanted her to be his girlfriend. It was in a way, even more despicable than Dino’s behaviour because at least Dino was up front about what he wanted and the fact that he was a giant moron.

I found the male characters mostly too distasteful and immature to say that I really enjoyed this book and part of that may be the fact that I’m so removed from this age group now and I’ve left all of this stuff behind. If I’d been at high school it might’ve helped me understand some behaviour. I’d have liked more resolution, the ending was very unsatisfactory to me, particularly that with Jonathon and Deborah. Dino and Jackie’s felt totally unrealistic as well.


Book #153 of 2013


2 responses to “Doing It – Melvin Burgess

  1. The minds of teenage boys are scary places!

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