Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky. Delacorte, 2007. Currently Available.
Age Level & Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Does it break the slate? No. I was so disappointed. Dominique had a ton of potential, but every time she could have made a bold decision she acted whiny and immature instead.
Who would we give it to? I might recommend it to a high school student now, but there are so many books out there with more interesting female characters that this title would be low on my list.
Review: Dominique, also known as Dom by her family and friends, is an accomplished young woman. She is smart, conventionally attractive, and seems to have mastered basic social skills. That’s why it is frustrating that she is incredibly irritating, and becomes even worse as the book continues.
Anatomy of a Boyfriend tells the story of Dom’s first relationship with a boy named Wes. Dom and Wes are both inexperienced at anything romantic, and they struggle to be good partners for one another. They have communication issues and physical incompatibility problems. These difficulties make their relationship painful to read. Dominique wants to be an independent and confident partner, but she finds herself falling into all of the worst stereotypical girlfriend habits.
This book has some pretty explicit scenes. Although that wouldn’t be out of place in a YA romantic fiction novel, these scenes are descriptive to the point of sounding medical. I get that Dom is a pre-med student who is passionate about human anatomy, but the anatomical descriptions of adolescent fumbling are just too awkward. Dom experiences significant discomfort with some of the physical intimacy she has with Wes but she doesn’t tell him that. On top of all that awkwardness, the book isn’t sex-positive. As soon as Dom and Wes get physical, the emotional part of their relationship deteriorates.
Reading Dom’s repeating cycle of irrational behavior and subsequent self-loathing is miserable. Unfortunately, it is behavior that does happen in real-life relationships, but that doesn’t make it any more fun to read about. When I was in high school, I wanted to read stories about people who were resilient when their romantic pursuits didn’t go as planned. I had plenty of awkwardness and self-doubt in my real life, and I didn’t want to encounter that in fictional worlds, too. Dom becomes a total mess when she splits with Wes. It is depressing and that may be how some women might handle a breakup. But it’s not Slatebreaking. If you are looking for realistic YA romance with interesting characters in a positive/resilient relationship, you should pass over this book.
Reviewed from a library copy.