Recommended Reading List For YA Books Dealing With Slut-Shaming & Sexuality

The Truth About Alice

 

I’m really excited to have Jennifer Mathieu (author of The Truth About Alice — just released this week and I cannot WAIT to pick up!) on the blog to talk a bit about her novel and give you some book recommendations! I’ve been interested in this one every since I heard about it!

 

Jennifer Mathieu 300dpi, credit George Hixson

When I first started writing my debut novel, The Truth About Alice, four years ago, I’d never heard of the term slut-shaming.  I just knew I wanted to write a book about a girl growing up in a small town who’s ostracized by her community.  And, sadly, I knew judging sexual behavior is one of the most common ways our society isolates and humiliates girls and women.  That’s why I knew the rumors that overwhelm the character of Alice would be related to what she may – or may not have done – with two boys at a party.

I’m thrilled that my book could become part of any conversation that our culture has about how we treat girls and women differently from boys and men when it comes to sexual behavior, but The Truth About Alice is certainly not the first book that’s tackled this complex issue.  I’ve collected a list of some of my favorite young adult novels that have taken on the topic of teen girl sexuality with authenticity and care.

 

bookrecs-slut-shaming-YA

 

 

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Forever by Judy Blume – The one that started it all.  Even though this book was written back in the 70s, there still something revolutionary about it.  A nice teenage girl named Katherine chooses to have responsible, mutually-fulfilling sex with her nice teenage boyfriend, and nothing catastrophic happens to either of them.  One of the first books to address teenage sexuality, and in classic Blume style, it’s as real and honest as it gets – although it might be the reason the name Ralph fell out of favor.  Read the book and get the joke!

 

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Gingerbread by Rachel Cohn Gingerbread’s main character Cyd Charisse is a snarky girl who’s been kicked out of boarding school and speaks frankly about being sexually active (her boyfriend is a “safety boy” who takes care of buying their condoms).  While Cyd is “a girl with a past” (semi-spoiler here – she had an abortion while with a previous boyfriend), Cohn never paints her as fallen angel.  She’s just a real girl trying to figure out who she is and what she wants.

 

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E. Lockhart’s Ruby Oliver books (The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, The Treasure Map of Boys, Real Live Boyfriends) – When we first meet Ruby, she’s bluntly informs us that she’s “became a famous slut” and is now a social outcast who’s been dumped by all her friends and her boyfriend because of vicious rumors about what she may or may not have done with certain boys.  But Ruby – who lives with her eccentric parents on a houseboat and attends a prep school on scholarship – won’t be defeated, and it’s so rewarding to follow her through her high school years as she triumphs in life and love.

 

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Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr – When 13-year-old Deanna Lambert is caught having sex with her older brother’s friend in the backseat of a car, she is branded the school slut.  When the story picks up a few years later, Deanna is still fighting her reputation and dealing with a complicated family situation.  This finalist for the National Book Award is a heartbreaking read that will stay with you long after you finish the last page.

Fault Line
Fault Line by Christa Desir – This book also tackles the important topic of sexual assault and is told from the point of view of a male protagonist named Ben.  When Ben’s girlfriend Ani attends a party without him, something terrible happens, and she is quickly labeled The Slut Who Asked For it.  What’s happened to Ani?  What can Ben do next?  A powerful book that will generate a lot of conversations.

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Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian – Natalie Sterling wants to be student council president and she wants to be sexually active on her terms.  Why must every choice a girl makes put in her in one of two extreme camps – like slut versus good girl?  A frank and feminist novel that’s also a confident exploration of what it means to be a “good girl.”

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Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally – After her mother comes out and leaves her father, star softball player and future valedictorian Parker Shelton’s picture perfect life is turned upside down.  Her church and her friends turn on her, and she’s not sure who she can count on.  Then Parker begins to earn a not-so-good reputation, and she’s intrigued by the flirty new baseball coach in town. How can she figure out what – and who – is right for her?

 

Thanks for sharing, Jennifer!! I’ve read Fault Line, Forever and Not That Kind of Girl and I agree with you that they explore this very well.

Be sure to check out Jennifer’s novel The Truth About Alice:

THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE_cover

Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.

Author’s Website | Twitter | Goodreads

 

 

Check out the rest of the blog tour schedule!

o    6/3 – Me, My Shelf and I @myshelfandi

o    6/4 – ExLibris Kate @ExLibris_Kate

o    6/5 – Forever Young Adult @4EverYA

o    6/6 – here!

o    6/7 – A Good Addiction @flamingo1325

o    6/8 – Girls in the Stacks @girlsinthestack

o    6/9 – Rebekah Faubion, Writer @rffaubion

 

Readers, I’d love to know if you have any recommendations to add to her list or let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you think!!

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 28 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating gelato, listening to music with oversized headphones and teaching her niece how to be as awesome as she is.

Comments

  1. I loved The Truth About Alice – it felt sadly completely genuine and I especially loved the way the story is been told. It’s absolutely horrible what happened to her but also belive that these kind of things can happen and that it is good to talk about them!

  2. This is a great list of books! Here are some that I would recommend as well (dealing with slut-shaming & sexuality):
    Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
    Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
    A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger
    The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle
    The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

  3. I would add Tease by Amanda Maciel to this list for sure, especially since it’s from the perspective of the slut-shamer, not the shame-ee. (Sorry if that’s confusing.)

    • Yes, definitely – one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read on this subject. Especially because it’s not just about slut-shaming (though I love that twist in perspective), but also about the opposite – the negative impact of shaming someone for not being sexual *enough*, and I don’t think that gets nearly enough attention in YA.

    • Oh yes I plan to read this one! I love difficult POVs!

  4. I am sooo looking forward to reading The Truth About Alice! I have read Fault Line! It was beautiful!

    • I loved the different perspective with Fault Line…that it wasn’t from the girl being shamed. Brought a lot of depth to it I thought!

  5. Brandyn says:

    I’m almost embarrassed I’ve only read one of these. Another good one is “Good Girls” by Laura Ruby.

  6. Thanks so much for this important list. I really want to read The Truth About Alice. I’ve loved all of Rachel Cohn’s books, she’s not afraid to deal with her characters’ sexuality. I’d second Sarah’s rec for Some Girls Are, it’s such a powerful book.

  7. Sandy Steckler says:

    I really enjoyed The Truth About Alice. It had a powerful message in such a small book. Keep writing Jennifer.

  8. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of The Truth About Alice! A great list of books too. The only one that springs to my mind is The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.

    <3

  9. Oh, I loved reading Mathieu’s recommendations! I haven’t read any of them yet, so I’ll definitely keep them in mind. The only novel I can think of off the top of my head that deals with slut shaming is The Scarlet Letter (old example but it still rings true in many ways).
    And I must say, I quite enjoyed The Truth About Alice. :

  10. Heather says:

    I really liked Story of a Girl and I’m glad it made it to your list. I find I interesting that more and more books seem to bring this subject into the forefront – and I’m glad. Too many girls deal with thsee problems and it’s good to have these books to show them not to be ashamed and to respect themselves. I have Tease and The Truth About Alice on my TBA list and I’m hoping to get them at my Library or on sale – small book budget this year

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  1. […] Jennifer Mathieu wrote a list of YA books dealing with slut-shaming and sexuality on The Perpetual P…. Reads dealing with rape, feminism, sexual identity, and all are piled onto a good starter […]

  2. […] Jennifer Mathieu stops by Perpetual Page-Turner to recommend some YA books dealing with slut shaming and sexuality. […]

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  4. […] The Perpetual Page Turner shares a guest post on Recommended Reading List For YA Books Dealing With Slut-Shaming & Sexuality. […]

  5. […] Mathieu, the author of The Truth About Alice, has a guest post at The Perpetual Page-Turner about slut-shaming. She’s included a list of books that take on the topic of teen girls and […]

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