This month’s Selective Collective book is “The Infinite Moment of Us” by Lauren Myracle. “The Infinite Moment of Us” is a love story between Wren and Charlie and the passion that grows between them as they fall hopelessly in love with one another. Myracle does not shy away from depicting physical intimacy between the teens. In fact as she herself states, “This book has sex in it. It’s not about sex, not exclusively, …But Charlie and Wren are eighteen … so yeah, sex is part of the mix, and I trust that you and teen readers, can handle it.”
For as long as she can remember, Wren Gray’s goal has been to please her parents. But as high school graduation nears, so does an uncomfortable realization: Pleasing her parents once overlapped with pleasing herself, but now… not so much. Wren needs to honor her own desires, but how can she if she doesn’t even know what they are?
Charlie Parker, on the other hand, is painfully aware of his heart’s desire. A gentle boy with a troubled past, Charlie has loved Wren since the day he first saw her. But a girl like Wren would never fall for a guy like Charlie—at least not the sort of guy Charlie believes himself to be.
And yet certain things are written in the stars. And in the summer after high school, Wren and Charlie’s souls will collide. But souls are complicated, as are the bodies that house them…
Sexy, romantic, and oh-so-true to life, this is an unforgettable look at first love from one of young adult fiction’s greatest writers
Which leads us to a discussion about sex in young adult novels. Most YA books have some kind of love story. However, the way in which intimacy is depicted is quite varied depending on the author. There are books in which the couples only kiss at the end and it’s still oh, so romantic. In other books it’s ambiguous and it’s up to your imagination how far the couple has really gone. Then there are authors like Myracle who choose to openly and graphically describe the details of the central couple’s physical relationship. After a detailed discussion, Sandie and I have come up with five books where we felt that the intimacy was handled in a manner that lived up to our expectations for romance and love in YA.
“The Lumatere Chronicles” by Melina Marchetta: Most of Marchetta’s novels include at least one love scene, and here’s how I described the romance in her fantasy trilogy to “The Atlantic Wire” last year: It “contains some of the most passionate moments I’ve read in Y.A. In “Finnikin of the Rock,” the chemistry between Finnikin and Evanjalin is ridiculously hot — even though they only actually kiss in like two scenes. But they’re positively burning with desire with each other, and it’s powerful, because it’s not just physical (in fact, they’re covered in grime or blood for most of the book), it’s this overwhelming, otherworldly bond they share.” The steaminess continues throughout the series. “I know Melina Marchetta and Kristen Cashore are good friends, and my heavens can they both incorporate steamy scenes in books that are about so much more than romance.” –Sandie
“If I Stay” by Gayle Forman: Mia and Adam are one of our all time favorite YA couples. Their love story is powerful and riveting. The love that they feel for each other transcends through to Mia as she lays possibly dying after a horrific car accident. The physical connection that they shared was obvious from the beginning and Foreman did not disappoint. Adam and Mia’s first time together is an amazing moment in which they play each other like their respective instruments. Mia discovers Adam’s body as she touches him in the same way she touches her cello. Adam caresses and “plucks” Mia’s body as he does his guitar. (Sandie adds: Also read “Where She Went” and “Just One Day” for more steamy and heartfelt romance by Forman.) –Diana
“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green: It’s no secret that here at TLR we are huge John Green fans. Between the two of us we’ve read all of his books and TFIOS is by far our favorite. Augustus and Hazel Grace are two amazing teens dealing with circumstances that most adults never have to personally face. Yet they do so with courage, strengths and maturity beyond their years. They find love with one another despite the fact that they are both battling cancer. Green’s depiction of Augustus and Hazel Grace coming together takes place in the most romantic setting of Amsterdam. Afterwards, Hazel Grace’s take on the whole things was, “The whole affair was the precise opposite of what I figured it would be: slow and patient and quiet and neither particularly painful nor particularly ecstatic.” It was simply another way to share her love with Gus. –Diana
“My Life Next Door” by Huntley Fitzpatrick: Even in a debut novel, Fitzpatrick proved her prowess at describing the heady feeling of falling in love for the first time and expressing that love physically. The book’s main couple Samantha and Jase have one of the most realistic — and sweet — “first times” I’ve ever read. Sorry if that’s a spoiler, but hello, this is a post about sex!: “In movies, it’s all beautifully choreographed, set to an increasingly dramatic soundtrack. In movies, when the boy pulls the girl to him when they are both finally undressed, they never bump their teeth together and get embarrassed and have to laugh and try again. But here’s the truth: In movies, it’s never half so lovely as it is here and now with Jase.” –Sandie
“Before I Die”/”You Against Me” by Jenny Downham: Yeah, basically this post is just an excuse for us to write about our favorite books. In “Before I Die,” the dying protagonist Tessa has a rather detailed bucket list to get through before leukemia takes away all of her tomorrows. She loses her virginity to a stranger but then finds true love and experiences the difference between sex just for the sake of it and actually making love. The passages between Tessa and Adam will make you cry — especially when she makes him promise to make love one more time — for the last time. And Ellie and Mikey — the forbidden lovers in “You Against Me” — couldn’t be in a stickier situation (her brother may or may not have raped his sister), but they manage to fall in love despite their circumstances:
“Is this how it is for everyone?’ she whispered.
‘How do you know?’
‘I just do. I’ve never felt this with anyone before.’
‘Serious. That isn’t a line.’
‘Kiss me,’ she said.
He did. Everywhere.”
What authors and books do you think handle sex in a poignant, memorable manner?
Make sure to check out everyone else in the Selective Collective’s features!