Penguin Australia, 2012
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What follows is a sometimes funny, sometimes awkward, but always compelling comedy of errors as Abby, Mala, Bree and Zoe each try to find their Mr Right . . . or at least get laid.
Losing It centres on a pact made between four friends during Year Twelve, to lose their virginity before schoolies week, in the hope of doing it with someone they actually like (and, you know, getting rid of that pesky virginity thing). The book is split into four main sections, each focusing on one of the girls: Zoe, Abby, Mala and Bree. The girls have pretty varied backgrounds - Zoe lives with her mum, who is pretty easygoing and trusts Zoe to behave herself, more or less; model student Abby lives with her devoutly Christian parents and is dreading the return of her disruptive older brother Zeke; Mala is coddled by her parents and longs for some freedom; and Bree is both super confident and verging on full-blown popularity, and being vague and evasive with her friends. What links the four of them is their scholarship status at their school, and their collective existence as the GeeGees (Geek Girls).
Each section focuses on one of the girls' attempts to have sex, but in and around this are their broader issues with their families, friends, and themselves. Although the big mystery at the beginning is who will lose their virginity by the time the 'challenge' is up, and to whom, in actual fact this was only a small part of the story in the end, interwoven with the girls' struggles to define themselves in relation to everyone around them.
I particularly enjoyed Mala's section, which might also contain one of the funniest scenes I've read in a book for a while. Abby and Mala's stories in particular felt like they could have been books in themselves, and when each of them finished I was dying to know more about what happened next!
I enjoyed the fact that Losing It felt completely realistic throughout. The story starts off with the girls secretly drinking vodka in one of their bedrooms, which immediately struck me as being real rather than overly glossy or sensationalist. They talk about sex like you might expect a group of teenage girls to talk about sex. I don't think you could class Losing It as a romance, although there are some minor elements of that here and there, but I felt like this captured an essence of teenager-dom that I find unrealistic in some of the more kissing-in-the-moonlight-true-love-forever YA out there. (I might just be old and cynical. You never know.)
I thoroughly enjoyed Losing It - a great contemporary read and a great continuation of Australian young adult lit that I have been dipping into. My only gripe is that I wanted more from all the girls' stories, which isn't a complaint so much as wishful thinking, perhaps... :)
Overall rating: 8/10
Book source: Borrowed from Mands at VeganYANerds. :)