On Sex Scenes

This discussion post has been brewing in my mind for several months, and I was hesitant to share this one because well, as the title suggests, it's a bit on the suggestive side.  But, as I always remind myself, this is MY BLOG and I can share what I want -- so, you're free to skip past this post in your blog reader, or read on to see what this is all about.

Still with me?  Okay, let's go.  This idea popped into my head while I was reading the Article 5 series in the spring.  Without being too spoilery, there are a couple of characters who, after lots of build up, finally do the deed.  They're teenagers and it's their first time.  The book isn't graphic, and doesn't go into the specifics, but instead dances around the issue and portrays the experience as beautiful, and poetic and sunsets and rainbows.  It's everything they hoped it would, and more and absolute perfection and ... blech.

So, this left me wondering if scenes such as this one place an unrealistic expectation about that "first time" on teenage readers.  Obviously, as an adult, I read this scene and rolled my eyes a little bit.  I'm going to be brutally honest here: I'm over 30 and my first time was quite a long time ago.  It's a sweet memory for sure, but I remember it being awkward, with a lot of giggling and uncertainty.  There were no fireworks, no poetry, just two people who didn't really know what they were doing.  But, in my opinion, that's what a being a teenager is all about ... you think you have the world figured out, but really, you're still learning and discovering along the way.  Honestly, as an adult, I still think I have the world figured out, but I am still learning and discovering along the way.

Which brings me back to my original post idea: whether sex in YA novels should be portrayed in a more realistic fashion?  We're very quick to say that teens shouldn't be exposed to pornography, as this places an unrealistic expectation of what sex should be.  So, on the one end of the spectrum, teens should know that sex isn't what's on those DVDs, but I feel like they should also be prepared for some awkwardness and discomfort.  Most of the young adult novels that I've read do a really good job of portraying pretty much every aspect of a teen's life, from complicated parent relationships, to messy friendships to ugly break-ups and everything in between.  So, if we can be realistic and brutally honest about other topics, why not sex?

I hope I'm not the only one who feels this way about sex scenes in YA novels.  How about you?  Have you read any books that portray sex in a more realistic fashion?  Or do you prefer the more sunshine and rainbows approach to sex in YA literature?  Or should sex be taken out of YA books altogether?  Leave me a comment below -- I'm dying to hear your thoughts on this topic!


  1. Well, I'm a bit old-fashioned and dislike sex in YA books, period. My husband and I dated for four years, were engaged for one, and walked down the isle in our 20s, both virgins. So yeah, I have definite thoughts on YA sex lol. But, I haven't actually read a lot of YA books that have sex in them-I can't even think of any off of the top of my head? NA yes, but the characters are usually a bit older, so it's a different situation.
    Interesting topic today :)

  2. I agree whole-heartedly that more realistic descriptions and expectations in general would be much appreciated! It's more like a spectrum - sure have a few of these great first time experiences in there but how about we shake it up a bit with other adjectives and descriptions, and more realistic first-times! I've read so many books where characters reach the big O during their first time and talk about how wonderful it was. Either someone is lying about it being their first time, or these authors are very out of touch with the real world! R x


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