Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Why I included sex in my YA novel Careful: Estella watches her friends being intimate with their boyfriends




 

Jett grabbed for his waist and pulled him closer to her.

He rushed to put on the Trojan condom. Watching Kyle lying on top of Jett, I wondered what the weight of a man would feel like. It was a type of pressure my now shapeless body wouldn’t get to ever understand. Once he put the condom on, Jett’s coy expression became flushed and sensuous. She fell into a state of a pleasure I would never know, and I couldn’t help but feel jealous. ~excerpt from Careful
 

In my new YA novel Careful, the first book of the Careful, Quiet, Invisible series, Estella dies a virgin. She watches her best friends in intimate situations with their boyfriends, she isn't voyeuristic but she's curious because she'll never have those moments now. Perhaps it was a bit blunt to share Estella 'watching' like this, but teens are having sex, and its real life. It's happening right now and we hope that teen girls wait and not rush into it, but it's likely that teen girls will face and have to deal with those intimate feelings and decide what to do. Hopefully they will have the strength, a strong self-worth and confidence in themselves instilled to wait until they are really emotionally ready.

Purposely the guys wear a condom in Careful and I really wanted safe sex involved, and I hope that is also a reminder of the importance of safe sex for teen readers. If they are having sex, to at least be protected! As a teen girl buying condoms can be uncomfortable and awkward, I mean how many of us walked up into CVS and bought a pack in high school? Girls might think it's the guy's job to carry a condom for their own protection but that doesn't mean they will. Girls can feel uncomfortable being the one to carry the condom in their purse, and in that case if you do feel uncomfortable, you should not be having sex in the first place, and if the person you are intimate with doesn't have a condom then don't accept that! Treasure yourself, your body, your health, your future, your life!
 
I lost my virginity at 14, very young and although I felt I was ready at the time and we used a condom, I wasn't ready. I do wish I waited. It was emotionally straining. Not only did I hope for much more than the guy could give me during the experience and afterward but also I didn't understand my body or how to relax and really enjoy it anyways. The guy wasn't emotionally ready to have the type of relationship I wanted from him and he became distant after and then moved away to another state a couple months later. I felt alone about it, unsure about myself and didn't know if I even liked the experience. It wasn't until I was much older that I really began to "understand" myself better and that being that close with someone felt totally right, your feelings might be curious or ready but that doesn't mean you're body, mind and soul are ready.

In the book Estella isn't watching her friends go at it to be turned on, in fact she discovers that her friends aren't exactly enjoying the 'moment' and that being intimate without being emotionally ready can put a damper on the physical side of things and can make a person feel low, depressed and stressed. It's best to think twice, three times, think a lot, before you give yourself to someone, and especially to someone who might not value your feelings and how the 'experience' feels for you or doesn't really care about you and your well-being. Just because you're "in the mood, or you're told you're loved or at 'that stage' in your relationship, doesn't mean it's a good idea or going to be a good experience."  It's okay to say no and wait.
Estella questions what her friends are doing and if they are doing the right thing. And I hope my teen readers also think about their own choices.


It pleased her that she had pleased him. His eyes were full of admiration as he zipped up his jeans, fished for his keys, and started the car, but as she put her jeans back on there was quietness about her, an unfulfilled craving that still wanted to be reached and released. It seemed like part of their routine; her feeling of enjoyment always took second place. ~excerpt from Careful
 
While Estella watches her friends have sex she notices different emotional elements hiding under the surface about each of them.

Eva is giving herself to a guy who doesn't appreciate her. She wants to please him but when they are not intimate together and at school he doesn't treat her so well, she doesn't want to accept that she is just being used.

Jett is having a secret relationship with an older guy, which I think is realistic considering how teens have crushes on musicians and actors who are in their 20's, although they are at different stages in their life he is kind hearted and cares about her and when they are intimate Jett feels comfortable with him in ways that make Estella feel that Jett is so much more advanced when it comes to guys than she is, and she wishes she'd have the chance to have a loving, intimate relationship.

Zara has a steady boyfriend but their intimacy feels routine and her boyfriend doesn't seem to care about really pleasing Zara and how she feels during it and she is left feeling unsatisfied because of his selfishness, but she stays with him thinking it's just the way it is.
 
All of this makes Estella think about the choices her friends are making.
As an author we have the opportunity to provide a message within our work, to leave the reader thinking, and if they wonder about their own life and choices while reading the book and the story seeps into their heart, then you've accomplished the ultimate author dream.

It was a choice I debated about to include sex within the Careful, Quiet, Invisible young adult novel series, but the answer was yes because I've been there, I was that girl. Being a teenager is a complicated time that springs a lot of emotions and self-reflection, and although Estella can't ever have those intimate experiences in life, like any teen girl she wonders about what it would be like.

~IJ

P.s:  And ever since my Dad died, just in case he's spirit pops by for a visit, I always shut the door if my husband and I are in the bedroom to let him know "we're busy" and to come back later. :)

Learn more about the Careful, Quiet, Invisible series here.
Watch the book trailer of Careful here.

 

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