Thursday, 7 August 2014

Review: Virgin by Radhika Sanghani

The Premise: Sanghani's Virgin follows twenty one year old protagonist Ellie Kolstakis on her mission to rid herself of her virginity. The book tackles issues of sex and virginity and is written from a very entertaining prose from the protagonist. Ellie is not someone who has been waiting for "The One" and believes in sex only after marriage; Ellie was simply "unlucky" as she likes to call herself and tells the reader that it simply has never happened for her, even though she wants it to. The beginning of the story and the moment that launches this quest of hers is when she is at a doctor's office and sees VIRGIN blinking on the screen under her file and she all of a sudden feels the anxiety and self-doubt because everyone else her age that she knows has lost their virginity ages ago. Ellie takes us along with her on the journey while she attempts to lose her virginity but she also takes you along through the problems one would face as a twenty-one year old: the questions of what comes next after you finish your university degree, how to navigate future job prospects and also how to handle traditional values implemented on you from family and how to work through friendship troubles.

My overall thoughts and review: Let me begin to say that this book is HILARIOUS. It had me chuckling and giggling constantly. I love Sanghani's prose so much and just how she wrote Ellie was all around hilarious. Ellie is real and very honest. I loved that she wasn't afraid to say what she thought and the innocence you would expect from a character like Ellie, is still there but she combats that with funny stories. The stories of Ellie learning certain things for the first time, like how to deal with the nether regions of a lady, grooming for example had me laughing out loud, but they were also so relatable. You don't get some sort of memo for when certain things body related/sex related are somehow currently in the know. Like Ellie, you sort of have to navigate around it yourself and hope that it is correct. And I really appreciated the route Sanghani took where she portrayed the ugly side to it, that there isn't always going to be the romantic beautiful perspective seen in most RomComs. I am going to include my favorite passages from the book, because they are so raw and so real. I really appreciated that with this passage alone, Sanghani demonstrates to the reader that she will take a different approach to virginity and sex.
"I know right?" she replied passionately. "Okay, I like to read Bridget Jones as much as the next person, and I used to love the Shopaholic books, but what is with the sickening happy endings? And these perfect men--where the f*** did they come from?"
 "Yeah, and did you ever read those teenage novels? The ones about snogging and first boyfriends... I mean, seriously. These girls just know exactly what to do with a guy--their only dilemma is whether to lose their virginity or not--and they seem to never have a shortage of whom to pick. I mean, my friends and I were discussing in major detail how to give hand jobs while these fictional girls magically knew exactly what to do." 
-- Virgin by Radhika Sanghani: Page 103 
I also appreciated the focus on friendship as well and the difficulties one would face in college/university with making friends and also how to secure older friendships if you went to different universities or colleges. Sanghani demonstrates that yeah, friends do fight, but you have to work through it and same goes for relationships with family. I also really appreciated that it wasn't necessarily a love story, but more about Ellie becoming okay with her virginity and who she was. The love story was mostly secondary, and served to build Ellie's character more, but Sanghani made sure to demonstrate that the relationship shouldn't be end game. Ellie was much more than a relationship she had with a boy, and her character development was not contingent on that. Overall, I was super satisfied with the ending and even though it would appear everything was nicely wrapped up, it wasn't, ultimately. The best possible ending happened for Ellie and it was realistic and I really appreciated that. I would definitely recommend giving this novel a read if you are interested in the premise, but also if you are interested in a different perspective than the regular RomCom / instalove narrative. I definitely think that you will enjoy it. The rawness of it all definitely reminded me of one of my favorite tv shows: Girls. This was Sanghani's debut novel and in my opinion it was a hit and I cannot wait to see what she writes next!

Rating of the book: 4/5 stars.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me from Penguin Canada for consideration/review. All opinions are my own. 

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