Berkley / August 5, 2014 / $16.00, print / $9.99, digital
Okay, I admit it. I didn’t do it.
This is normal, right? I mean, just because everyone I know has talked like they’ve already done it doesn’t mean that they’re telling the truth right?
It’s not like I’m asking for that much. I don’t need the perfect guy. I don’t need candlelight or roses. Honestly, I don’t even need a real bed.
The guys I know complain that girls are always looking for Mr. Right—do I have to wear a sign that says I’m only looking for Mr. Right Now?
Sooooo anyone out there want sex? Anyone? Hello? Just for fun?
I am not going to die a virgin. One way or another I am going to make this happen.
Hey, what have I got to lose? Besides the obvious.
I am constantly on the search for funny New Adult. I’ve found it in books by Cora Carmack and Under Locke by Mariana Zapata, and now I can add Radhika Sanghani’s Virgin to the list. Imagine a younger Heather Wells of Size Twelve Is Not Fat or Bridget Jones, or an older Georgia Nicholson from Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging and you’ll have Ellie Kolstakis: V-I-R-G-I-N.
We meet Ellie as she is being humiliated (mostly self-inflicted by a bad case of verbal diarrhea) and a little bit shamed in a doctor’s office as doctor forces her to get an STD test after her claims of being a virgin—which the doctor doesn’t believe:
“But you know I’m not actually sexually active.” I blushed furiously. “I have never been, well…penetrated.” I stumbled over the last word.
Dr. E. Bowers raised her eyeballs to the ceiling. “Ms. Kolstakis,” she said, “I am now well aware that you are a virgin. However, I advise that you take this free test I am offering you to ensure you do not have chlamydia. It is still possible—though very rare—to catch it in other ways.”
“But what other ways? Surely fingers can’t give you chlamydia?” I blurted out.
It is with this blunt, unapologetic, but hilarious, prose that Sanghani takes on Ellie’s story. Sanghani takes on women’s issues such as virginity, gender roles, beauty perception, and hygiene. Yes, hygiene, specifically of the lady parts (which results in hilarity, might I add):
I was about to climb out of the bath into the comfort of my dressing gown when I remembered Lily saying the lips were the one area where boys didn’t want hairs in case they went down on me—but then, I reasoned, they wouldn’t if it got around that I had a hairy vagina. With a resigned sigh, I pulled the lips apart as far as I could and found the hairs growing only a few millimetres away from the clitoris.
Picking up my razor again, I slowly started steering it around the delicate parts, wishing I had invested in a special bikini razor.
Then I screamed. I had cut it. I had actually cut my clitoris.
Ellie is a young woman who, without even realizing it, is on the path to finding out who she will be as an adult. It takes that core piece that is necessary for a book to be considered New Adult—self-exploration and growth—and makes it approachable and real. Ellie isn’t raped, her parents haven’t been murdered, and she’s not part of a motorcycle club. She’s an average girl in her final year of university in England, desperately trying to land a perfect internship and divest herself of her virginity.
However, to paraphrase a line from 500 Days of Summer, it turns out that while this is a story of how girl meets boy, this is not a love story—not exactly. I mentioned in a post a few months ago that in order for New Adult to mature and stay in the genre, it would need to expand into different subgenres, diversify its character types, and handle self-discovery in a way other than massive personal trauma. What I hadn’t considered at the time, is the angle Sanghani took: Young Women’s Fiction.
Ellie ends Virgin older, wiser, alone, and (SPOILER!) with chlamydia. She’s found her sense of self, if not a boyfriend, and the way this is handled, I’m perfectly okay with that outcome. Sanghani is a beautiful addition to the world of New Adult and I can’t wait to see what else happens—and I hope her future books feature Ellie!
Learn more about or order a copy of Virgin by Radhika Sanghani, available August 5, 2014:
Jennifer Proffitt is a Midwest transplant to New York City. She spends most of her time reading and writing about romance, but you can follow her other adventures on Twitter @JennProffitt. She works for Heroes and Heartbreakers and Criminal Element.