On the Subject of Unmentionable Things by Julia Walton
An engagingly genuine teenager looks for and provides answers to some age-old questions while the fuddy-duddies in town gasp in horror!
Quiet and studious Phoebe Townsend had questions. Questions about sex. But when an unexpected windfall of medical journals and periodicals from an estate sale of a local gynecologist came her way, she took the opportunity to research the answers.
She kept her research hobby completely to herself, telling no one, not her best friend, Cora, and definitely not her busy parents. Realizing others like her had similar questions, she started an online blog, Circle in the Square, under the pseudonym “Pom,” to address the most common issues based on fact and science with an eye toward promoting safe sex, healthy bodies, and the understanding of consent among her peers, many of whom were already sexually active.
As her followers grew, she launched a Twitter account, overlooking the option to hide her location, and soon the entire town was buzzing that “Pom” lived in Linda Vista. But when a local businesswoman running for mayor targets the blog as being “filthy” and “pornographic” and makes it her mission to shut the blog down and unmask the person behind it, Phoebe begins to worry whether her secret will be safe for long.
What a fantastic story! For most of the book, I had a smile on my face as I followed Phoebe through her days and evenings of maintaining her blog and anonymity. Phoebe is intelligent, curious, and brave for putting herself and her research out there to share with others who didn’t have this vitally needed information. I loved how she had a real idea of what she wanted in her future (veterinarian ballerina was hilarious.) She’s amazingly comfortable talking about all the unmentionable things; however, she’s been working on her research and blog for two years by this time, so I was good with that. The back and forth with her delightful friend, Cora, was a joy to watch. They were a mighty duo, having each other’s back like they did.
But the story isn’t all light and fluffy by any means. There are real issues brought into the open: sexuality and knowing one’s own body. Some of the questions posed may appear so simple to adults, but they are real unknowns to the young. The answers to the blog questions were outstanding, very well thought out, and strictly adhered to presenting facts and not opinions. I liked that the author pointed out the differences between possible responses.
There are romances for Phoebe and Cora. Phoebe has two boys she is interested in, and they turn out to be very different from each other. I liked how the author has Phoebe learn that there is more than one way to approach intimacy, and she must trust herself to know which one is right for her. I also really appreciated that the typical football hero turns out to have some hidden depths. He was just an all-around great guy.
The characters, old and young, all make mistakes. Some take responsibility for them right away, some delay but step up, and others never do, just like in real life. The characters and the story felt genuine.
There are occurrences of strong profanity at particular (and appropriate) points in the book. However, if that is something you’re concerned with, it doesn’t happen often, but the words used are the big ones.
With its genuine and engaging characters and compelling storyline, I read this book in just a little over one day; I didn’t want to put it down! I recommend ON THE SUBJECT OF UNMENTIONABLE THINGS to young adults and readers of young adult fiction.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author or publisher through NetGalley and TBR and Beyond Book Tours.