Thank you TBR and Beyond Tours for the chance to read and review a really great young adult book that tackles an important topic without making it cringy or dull.
Why I picked this up
Which of us has ever had a really informative talk with our parents? What we know, generally speaking, comes from pop culture, things we google in secret and porn. I live in a country where we ask if a woman is married to check if she’s sexually active or not. For me, the talk was just about periods and just that this happens to a woman as she grows older. I was then accidentally given a book on teen health that everyone thought would convince me to eat healthier and lose weight but instead answered the other question that plagued my mind; can a guy pee inside you when you’re having sex?
Shout out: R U a Teenage Health Freak?
Sex education is still a controversial topic in most places. For some reason, people think it will involve showing young kids porn and encouraging kids to do it, and not as we will tell young people that STDs are a real thing, you can get pregnant the very first time, and what is good touch and bad touch. Let’s not even get into the joy of sex. It can be about pleasure and not just something for men to thirst for and women to put up with.
So when the sign-ups for On The Subject of Unmentionable Things went around, I was curious. This could either be really good or really bad, and I’m happy to say it fell into the first category.
I had a brilliant professor in my freshmen year. She was a labor historian in Pakistan. I may not remember her exact words, but she talked about people who commented on why she was researching labor in Pakistan and not women because she was a woman. Her answer was, simply put, because I’m interested in labor.
I thought of this because On The Subject of Unmentionable Things reminds us that a woman’s interests are political. A woman’s choice to study something not directly related to women is political. And we have Phoebe right here writing a blog and managing a Twitter page on the most political thing of them all; sex. She writes about sex not from a place of fear or because she’s having loads and thinking about facts turns her on; she writes about it because the human body, and sex, are fascinating things. You can be incredibly interested in them for no reason than that.
Julia Walton’s book was excellent. She touches on subjects that impact many of us; misinformation, fear-mongering, racism, sexism, homophobia, and how people can just be assholes without making this book feel preachy or boring. She writes well and has a plot, and I’m disappointed with Random House for not marketing this book better because she only has 3 reviews on amazon.
Phoebe has friends who don’t know the truth, parents trying to figure out how to manage their business and political preferences, people whose loyalty is up for rent, and a trump like woman who wants to make her town great again.
You get where the author leans politically, and I love that about her. This is not her first book on teens, but her third. She seems to genuinely care about younger readers because while this book didn’t hold back, it wasn’t a graphic read. Phoebe does get slut shamed; the town is vandalized; she is stolen from. And yet you have a character that comes through with dignity and self-respect. Julia Walton writes about a character more mature than most of the older ones, a reminder that only the young can run.
About the author:
JULIA WALTON is the award-winning author ofWords on Bathroom Walls(now adapted to a major motion picture!) andJust Our Luck. Her third novel,On the Subject of Unmentionable Things,is set for release on August 23, 2022. She received an MFA in creative writing from Chapman University and a BA in History from UC Irvine. Julia lives with her husband and children in Huntington Beach, CA.