While readers may resist judging a book by its cover, a title like this one would get attention even without art. The Second Virginity of Suzy Green by Sara Hantz is a young adult (YA) novel about survival in high school. In Suzy’s case, this meant survival in two schools. It is not that she attended two schools at the same time, it is that she was trying to project two different personalities. Suzy had a sister, Rosie, who met a tragic end. Suzy and her family were predictably devastated. But Suzy had a reason to be devastated not shared by her parents. Suzy believed she caused Rosie’s death. Readers can decide whether they agree.
Rosie’s tragic ending has nothing to do with Suzie’s virginity. During a summer camp adventure, Suzy had met Ryan and the two clicked. They had the same weird sense of humor; they were of the same class. The two slept together, summer camp ended, Suzy returned home, and sister Rosie met her end on her birthday. The depressed Suzy, always a type of wild child in school, one who loved playing pranks, acted out in ever more daring stunts. A final one led to her arrest which then led to shame felt by the family which then led to a move to an elite and elitist private school. Suzy would be able to start over. No one would know about Rosie, her police detention or her lack of virginity. She would study hard, collect proofs of achievement, and make her parents proud.
The coolest kids in the new school were wealthy (more rich than rich) and Suzy got swept up in a lifestyle not totally comfortable for her. There was the hot guy, a guy named Guy, that she liked, and he was a member of the Virginity club. She was always worried that someone would find out her secrets. Once she took an oath required to join the Virginity Club, Suzy had continuing anxiety about others finding out about her non-virginal status. No one could possibly know, so her only discomfort was about lying.
Then Ryan showed up. He was working as a barista at Starbucks. Suzy was quite uncomfortable when Ryan talked to her while she was having coffee with Guy. Now her decision was what to do about Ryan. Should she approach him and ask him to keep her secret. What might the price be?
These incidents will play out in the context of the chaotic and developing mind of Suzy. She will ask for advice from friends and it will be conflicting. She will have lots of interior monologue going on that will reveal her chaotic thinking to the reader. I believe this is an accurate portrayal of teenage angst. I only found two occurrences where I through she rationalized in a way superior to her age, but she may just have been precocious.
Despite the obvious sex that readers know must have occurred (refer once again to the cover), there is no objectionable, vulgar, crude, or explicit sexual language. I think that is a neat author trick. I gave this novel four Amazon stars and will recommend it to my students who constantly question me about western cultural values related to sex. The language used will benefit their use of English as a second language.