By Jennifer Dyer
I asked the librarian for some of her popular reads in the YA section and Ready or Not by Meg Cabot was one of her picks. As I know many parents are busy and don’t have time to pre-read everything out there, I thought it might be nice to know some of what is available in the YA section.
You may know the name Meg Cabot from her popular Princess Diaries books, which were made into those sweet Disney movies with Julie Andrews. Thinking the books would be like the Disney movies, I borrowed one of the library’s Princess Diaries on CD to listen to with my seven-year-old. Big mistake. In the opening paragraph Princess Mia complains about her period and that her mother is having sex with one of her high-school teachers. After I nearly wrecked the car ripping the CD out of the dash board, I realized that I needed to do a little more homework before I shared books with her.
As the title suggests, Ready or Not seems to be about coming of age and sexual awakening.
The main character has been in a serious dating relationship for several months and is trying to decide when to “Do It.” She misinterprets her boyfriend’s request to join his family on a weekend trip to mean that he is ready to take their relationship to higher sexual level.
In the midst of her angst about whether she is ready or not, she finds herself at a “life art” class where she must sketch a nude man. Her initial reaction is embarrassment. She has difficulty making the sketch look alive and bringing out the background. All this occurs while her boyfriend vacillates between his own drawing and staring at her boobs instead of her face when she talks, which she seems to find thrilling and empowering.
Throughout the book she has conversations about when to start “Doing It” and tries to ready herself for the big moment, including what kind of birth control to use. While at Camp David—did I mention her boyfriend is the president’s son and she sneaks into his bedroom under the President’s nose? Anyway, she sneaks into her boyfriend’s room and asks him when he is going to make his move. He is taken by surprise, as he didn’t have any intentions for a sexual rendezvous, but he happily accepts her “jumping his bones.”
In the final scenes of the book, the couple returns to their art class and drawing the nude male model. This time the main character has no problems making the sketch a complete blend of background and detail. She seems to have shed her childhood embarrassment and innocence and awakened a new sense of maturity. While sketching, she remunerates on her fears that becoming sexually active would take over her mind and her dating relationship. She reports that while she does think about “It” a lot, it hasn’t taken over her entire mind and her relationship with her boyfriend is just the same. At the end, the two make plans for their next sexual encounter—at the White House, no less—while his father is busy with some function or other.