2021 (RH Graphic)
The dedication for Erika Moen & Matthew Nolan´s Let´s Talk About It is to "whoever needs it, whatever your age." A nonfiction graphic novel subtitled as a teen´s guide to sex & relationships, the book is refreshingly holistic in both form and content.
Each one of the seventeen chapters in Moen & Nolan´s book covers a number of subjects that one would expect from a book about sex. There are chapters on how our genitals work, what happens during pregnancy, and the most common STIs (sexually transmitted infections). These are shared in a tone which is simple, direct, upbeat, and fun. It´s a great approach, one that I think would be effective not only with its targeted teenage audience, but also with anyone who has questions about sex that might not know where to start.
Another strength of the book are its inclusion of subjects related to intimate human relationships: from sexting to ghosting someone, to how we handle rejection to jealousy. This creates a more complete primer for anyone wanting to know how to embark on a relationship with someone that is more than friends.
Chapter by chapter, Let´s Talk About It presents these topics with characters that (literally) illustrate a world which is populated with all sorts of people, body-types, body-ability, identities, and more. Seeing such a range of young people talk about sex in a healthy and inclusive way is exciting and bold, and highlights how rare it has been to see this diversity refelcted in many texts on sex education (particularly when geared towards young people).
Further, the graphic novel is fearless in talking about all sorts of sex--from FWB and hook-ups to monogamy, from sex between opposite-sex, same-sex, and intersex. Chapters here include mature talk about pornography, kinks, and fantasy. Rather than focusing exclusively on the clinical dimension of sex, Moen and Nolan approach this important subject as a natural, human, pleasurable activity between two (or more) people. Because it is.
This fact alone would make it distinct from other books available on the subject, but hopefully more authors, artists, and educators will be informing teenagers that sex is about far more than "avoiding getting pregnant" or "how to put on a condom." It´s as though Moen & Nolan are offering the kind of information they wish they had had when they were teenagers. I know I could have benefited from reading this kind of book, having had the tools to have these kinds of healthy conversations, back when I was younger.
Thankfully, Moen and Nolan never talk down to their readers. Instead, this nonfiction graphic novel invites teens to become empowered, to learn how to talk about sex and intimate human relationships with one another, to ask themselves what kind of sex they like (and don´t feel comfortable with), how to communicate with one another, how to set healthy boundaries, and much more. Let´s Talk About It is an excellent book to share with anyone you think might benefit from its pages (not only teens).