Long time geek, fangirl, mother, and reader. I've got a lot to say, you might not like it all, but it will be honest and hopefully helpful.
Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Trigger Warning: There is a transphoic comment at the start of the book that implies misgendering transwomen. Ellie says some homophobic microagressions to a gay man who is her friend and a few bits of internalized racism. She also is openly confused about what is or isn't feminist, sometimes getting it wrong, but there are some genuine moments when she gets it right. And she even comes to some very spot on conclusions about misogyny in mainstream culture.
Over all none of these missteps ruined my reading experience, but that absolutely could ruin it for some if they read without prior knowledge.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I got this book from NetGalley and at first I was rolling my eyes at the Ellie referred to her vagina as a VJ and how convinced she was that a STD test was the height of maturity. But after the first chapter I gave myself a hard slap to the face, because I was being WAY too harsh.
See, I was 19 when I had sex with a man for the first time, i.e. what mainstream heteronormative culture considers "loosing your virginity." It was messy, hilariously ridiculous circumstances, and I can still remember being so determined to get it over with because like Ellie I was sure it would make me some how better. Ugh. The lies we tell ourselves. So once I knocked myself off my sexually experienced high-horse I was able to really relate to Ellie and then as the book went on I REALLY identified with Ellie to the point I was shrinking so far into myself with mortification that at one point I became a human turtle. Oh yeah, so been there.
Virgin is great. Well written, funny, and very relevant to our time. Even thought the protagonist is a virgin she is frank about her body, and sex. I really appreciated how detailed she was in all the many adventures she had with four play, masturbation, body hair, and all the things we rarely see young women deal with in an honest, authentic way.
Ellie is funny, earnest, and I think a lot of women of many ages can relate to her confusion and struggles. I found her determination to be so refreshing. She was scared some times, and hesitated, but in the end she pushed through it to get what she wanted. That alone sold me on the book.
I especially could related to her as a woman of color. Ellie deals with so many things that are unique to being a WOC. Everything from thick, epic amounts of body hair that resists removal. Feeling fat and unattractive in comparison to your thin, blonde, white female friends. [spoiler]Not to mention having most white men not even see you as more than a friend or buddy, even when they're fucking you. (Yeah, that was my human turtle moment, it still stings a bit).[spoiler]
This isn't the kind of a book I usually pick up, but it was well worth venturing out of my comfort zone. I recommend this to fans of the Bridge Jones diaries, Jane Austen, and anyone looking for New Adult novels that focus more on realistic female experiences. This is not a romance, but rather a New Adult coming of age story. I really wish there were more books like this in that genre.
This is a solid 3.5 stars for me, a good book that I enjoyed, but found a few problematic bits.