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Starting where they’re at: teen boys and relationships

March 29th, 2012 by Carrie Gleason

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There’s no shortage of great fiction about relationships out there for teen girls. Lots of times teen girls are the first to introduce their librarian or teacher to new books. It seems like girls are more willing to talk about the books they read than boys are, especially books about relationships.

Not many boys are going to ask for books that deal with relationships – or even admit they’ve read them. But it's a curious and learning time for them too.  And if you offer them books that look cool and that they can relate to, you can find that they may be willing to try them out.

If they do, they’re more likely to keep on reading if they find the characters believable and the story line gripping. We’ve just published two new titles in our Sidestreets series with stories that many boys will recognize as realistic — and which will allow them to explore difficult situations in the safety of a fictional setting.

In Hook Up by Kim Firmston, Cody's new girlfriend gets pregnant. For the girl, the decision to abort is a non-issue: she's too young to have a child and she's got a university scholarship to look forward to in the Fall. Cody isn't so sure abortion is the answer, and he feels he isn’t even given a say when his girlfriend goes ahead with the procedure without telling him. This causes some complex emotions and reactions for Cody in terms of a guy's responsibility for an unplanned pregnancy.

In Off Limits by Robert Rayner, Birmingham Glover is convinced he's the only kid in his high school who hasn't had sex yet. So when he finally loses his virginity to his new girlfriend, initially he's ecstatic. But soon afterwards he starts to question how readily his girlfriend had sex with him … and who she's been with before. In his effort to sort it all out he starts to form an infatuation with an older woman – his substitute music teacher. After being caught by his girlfriend in an inappropriate encounter with the older woman, Birm faces an inquiry at school, which leaves him to wonder: how much of this was his fault?

The challenging themes in these two books aren’t for every reader, but for some guys they will help them to explore the complex world of relationships – something girls have been openly reading about for years.


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