Obtained: Penguin, ARC
Publish date: August 5, 2014
Sanghani’s Virgin tells the story of Ellie, a twenty-one year old virgin who is trying desperately to give away her “V-card”. She, like the rest of us, live in this sex-steeped culture where Sex and the City tells her how to dress to impress, and friends sharing their own dirty secrets make her feel like she’s been left out of some big part of life. On her quest to find a guy to deflower her, Ellie gains a new friend, Emma, who is totally unlike her; Emma is sexually liberated and hates the thought of sleeping with the same guy every night. The two girls use their sexual knowledge (or lack thereof) to start a “vlog” (which stands for vagina blog, in this case) and spread their stories around the net, educating and entertaining girls who can relate to these tales of woe.
Honestly, I’ve been given quite a few advanced reader’s copies recently, but when I found out I was getting the chance to review Virgin, I squealed for joy. This coming from a girl who doesn’t squeal. At anything. The minute I read the summary, I knew I had to review this book, and I’m seriously grateful to Penguin for selecting my blog to be one of the reviewers.
Virgin reminded me somewhat of the HBO series, Girls, with how brutally honest and raw it was in the writing. Sanghani definitely knows what she’s writing about, because I was laughing out loud at a lot of the moments that people are normally too scared or embarrassed to discuss with friends, let alone an entire audience of readers. I wasn’t laughing because it was funny (but it was funny), I laughed because I could relate. I mean, the image of a girl practically doing yoga, trying to get a good look at her lady bits through a webcam and having her mother walk in? It’s funny! It’s embarrassing! It’s something that a lot of girls can relate to! Maybe not specifically, but everyone’s had their moments. The fact that Ellie fixated so heavily on her pubic hair throughout was another example of the raw, real humour in this novel. If girls can’t relate to this book as they’re reading, they are likely lying to themselves, or they’ve just never thought about their bodies in this way. Just like Ellie and Emma’s vlog, Virgin is entertaining and educational.
Without giving too much away, I really appreciated that Sanghani focused on Ellie’s life in general throughout the novel and not just her sex life. While, obviously, the story of her virginity and trying to lose it is important to the novel, I found that the title “Virgin” referred to the way Ellie thought of herself, not just her physical state. She is a student looking for a writing internship. Ellie is a job virgin. She has a very small circle of friends. Ellie is a social virgin. There are many ways to apply this title to Ellie’s life that aren’t just about her having sex, and I really enjoyed the fact that the novel focuses on Ellie, and not some specific romantic plot.
Virgin is a “coming of age” story that teaches girls, and really anyone, that it’s okay to be a virgin. It’s okay to look the way you want to look like (even if it means you don’t want to shave “down there” when everyone tells you that you need to get a Playboy Brazilian!). And it’s okay to hold off for a partner who won’t laugh at you when you pull your pants down — even a partner that’ll only last one night.
This novel was definitely one of my favourites of the year, so far. Virgin is very funny, very honest, and most of all, very real.