Description: Louise Harrison's folks are destroying any chance she has of enjoying 11th grade... Sixteen-year-old Louise Harrison is insecure about a lot of things: her hair, her fashion sense and her "big-boned" build. At least her social status is secure because her BFF, Sienna Marshall, is a certified member of the mega-watt crowd. But all hell breaks loose when Louise's brother walks in on their father, Len, and her friend Sienna's mother, Sunny, in a flagrantly compromising position. Soon after, Len and Sunny move in together.
Stats: Young Adult Contemporary, 224 pages, First Published by Annick Press, February 2009.
My Rating: 4 Stars
My Parents Are Sex Maniacs: A High School Horror Story is about what happens when you are forced without a doubt to acknowledge that adults, despite their paternal role in your life, also have sex. When Louise's father is caught in a compromising position doing something he shouldn't have, with someone he shouldn't have, her calm family life takes a turn for the worse and we get to join the chaos as she gets thrown into the deep end with a surprising amount of humour.
Louise is such a stand out main character. I rooted for her like you wouldn't believe! I loved the way the focus of her story wasn't just about her friendships, or just about her romantic entanglements, or just about her family, but all of those things all at once. It made her experiences all the more real and all the more interesting as her life gets rather complicated.
Robyn Harding has reminded me how awkward and uncomfortable high school is. The high school experience is portrayed in this novel so realistically that I saw some of my own experiences and old friends echoed in her characters.
High school is a bitch. As much as we turn our noises down at popular harpies and jerk boy, the halls of any educational establishment is just as filled with hormones and uncertainty as it is teenagers trying to make their way to class. That showed through in this without the melodrama I expected.
I'll be the first to admit this type of novel won't be for everyone. Although I enjoyed the writing, I was thrown off initially by the genre. It has been a long time since I've read a contemporary YA novel set in high school without much of a romantic focus for the main character. I did not expect to enjoy this as much as I ended up enjoying it, but now I would definitely recommend this one. (There is even a lgbtq sub-plot that had me harkening back to my "everyone's flawed" Will Grayson, Will Grayson experience.)
A common theme for my YA reading appears to be sex ed. First, The Color of Earth graphic novel series and now My Parents Are Sex Maniacs. Although these two stories are entirely different when it comes to tone and presentation there are some surprising parallels.
When it comes to sex we first learn by witnessing how our parents relationships. This is where we get our beginners glimpse into the world of sexuality (without any of the icky stuff), before we even have the opportunity to do anything ourselves. In My Parents Are Sex Maniacs how parents influence their children can be seen within each character, especially with Louise's and her best friend Sienna.
Overall, I was very happy with this book and definitely plan to read more of Harding's work. Seeing a book set close to home has made me appreciate home grown Canadian writers even more. British Columbia represent!
SPECIAL NOTE: For a preview of the book you can read the first two chapters on Harding's website.