Review: Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky

Title Anatomy of a Boyfriend
Author Daria Snadowsky
Published January 9th, 2007 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages 272 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance, Sexuality
Part of a Series? Yes (Book 1 in the Anatomy duology)
Source & Format Received from author for review
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChapters

Synopsis

Before this all happened, the closest I’d ever come to getting physical with a guy was playing the board game Operation. Okay, so maybe that sounds pathetic, but it’s not like there were any guys at my high school who I cared to share more than three words with, let alone my body.

Then I met Wes, a track star senior from across town. Maybe it was his soulful blue eyes, or maybe my hormones just started raging. Either way, I was hooked. And after a while, he was too. I couldn’t believe how intense my feelings became, or the fact that I was seeing—and touching—parts of the body I’d only read about in my Gray’s Anatomy textbook. You could say Wes and I experienced a lot of firsts together that spring. It was scary. It was fun. It was love.

And then came the fall.

“When presented with a member of the opposite sex, some of us get numbers and some of us throw up.”

Desperate for a change of pace after toiling away on her college applications, Dominique decides to accompany her best friend, Amy, to the annual seniors versus teachers football game at the local public high school, East Fort Myers High. It’s here that she’s first introduced to Wesley ‘Wes’ Gershwin. While their first encounter is hardly one that could be considered a ‘meet cute’, there’s little doubt that Dom has made quite an impression on her blue-eyed saviour. Having typically relegated boys to either one of two categories (‘Assholes’ or ‘Bores’) in the past, Dominique is surprised by her sudden fervent desire to get to know Wes better. With a little help from Amy, Dominique is able to track Wes down and the two soon find themselves poised on the tenuous line between friendship and something more. As the two grow ever closer, both Dom and Wes will learn a lot about both themselves and one another before their story comes to an end.

“When I’m done I peer into my compact mirror and groan as I think about the boy’s last image of me: a swamp thing racing for a foul-smelling Porta-Potti. Does Guinness World Records have a Worst First Impression category?”

Daria Snadowsky’s Anatomy series has been on my radar for quite some time now. Having read a countless number of glowing reviews for both Anatomy of a Boyfriend and Anatomy of a Single Girl from fellow bloggers whose opinions I trust, I was very eager to read them myself. So, when I recently received a review request from the author herself, it seemed a little like fate. I was admittedly a little nervous as this marked the first time my services were requested as a reviewer. What if I didn’t enjoy the novel as much as everyone else? There’s certainly an additional amount of pressure when you know an author or publisher is waiting to hear what you thought of their book. Thankfully, no such trepidation was necessary as I thoroughly enjoyed my first experience with Daria Snadowsky’s work, and can safely say it won’t be my last!

“I once read in a teen magazine that guys think about sex almost constantly. If that’s true, how come we girls get upstaged by sports and video games?”

It seems fitting that Daria Snadowsky paid tribute to the illustrious Judy Blume in Anatomy of a Boyfriend’s dedication. With a candid honesty reminiscent of Blume’s own work, Snadowsky tackles difficult and often uncomfortable subject matter with an authenticity I had to admire. Covering a myriad of issues including family, friendship, dating, relationships, intimacy, and sex from Snadowsky’s own unique, quirky point-of-view, Anatomy of a Boyfriend pulls no punches and manages to be both heart-warming and hilarious. In short, this novel was a blast to read!

“…I remind myself how in the grand scheme of things he’s just a boy, nothing to lose my head over.
So why can’t my heart stop racing?
And why do I like how that feels?”

Seventeen-year-old Dominique Baylor is a studious introvert with her future all but laid out before her. Although she’s not a prude by any stretch of the imagination, Dom has never had the time or inclination to date, and has never indicated much of an interest in the opposite sex, apart from a rather innocent and asexual crush that she’s had on her Amy’s elder brother for a number of years. All that changes in an instant, however, when she’s introduced to Wesley Gershwin. Suddenly forced to confront a range of emotions and desires previously unknown to her, the bulk of Anatomy of a Boyfriend centers around Dominique’s emotional and sexual evolution.

“It takes me forty minutes, three spell checks, two Diet Cokes, and a mental debate over whether writing an e-mail in the middle of the night makes me seem like an overeager loser, to come up with what I think could be a final draft.”

It was interesting to see how Dominique’s fascination with medicine and the human body coalesced with her journey to discover more about Wes’ body and her own. If I had one small complaint, it would be that Dom didn’t spend enough time learning about herself, physically-speaking. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with pleasing your partner, the fact that Dominique remains largely sexually unsatisfied throughout the course of her relationship with Wes and makes little to no attempt to find out what works for her or vocalize the issue with her boyfriend was a little disappointing. While Snadowsky did a wonderful job touching upon other important issues like safe sex in a relatable way, I could only wish that this issue was handled in a similar manner. I don’t think suffering in silence or ‘faking it’ is ideally what we want to portray as being a part of a healthy, honest relationship. I was also unhappy with the fact that Dominique seemed to lose much of her sense of self as her relationship with Wes progressed. She spent far less time with Amy and her parents and even began to question priorities and goals that had been important to her since she was a child. While I have no doubt that this is a realistic conflict that many experience during their first serious relationship, I’ve never understood those whose entire lives revolve around their significant others and therefore couldn’t help but find some of Dom’s behaviour frustrating and a little irritating at times.

“The heart beats an average of seventy times a minute. Right now mine is doing a hundred and twenty easy, and with each inhalation I’m drinking in Wes’ healthy, clean scent – a delicious combination of sweat and fabric softener. In biology we learned how animals can smell each other’s pheromones, chemical signals that prompt them to mate. I can almost hear my pheromones bouncing into Wes’.”

Wesley Gershwin was quite a pleasant surprise for me, and there’s little doubt that he experiences as much of a transformation as Dominique over the course of the novel. While there were times when I found it difficult to connect with Wes and understand him as he can be quite inscrutable, I was extremely happy to see that Wesley was just as, if not more, sexually inexperienced as Dominique. While this might seem a strange thing to applaud in a novel, in a genre that’s over-saturated with the self-assured, promiscuous womanizer who appears to have slept with half the female population of his respective area, Wesley’s inexperience was a wonderful change of pace. It was extremely endearing to watch as Wes experienced his first french kiss or struggled to open his first bra clasp. Wesley was the primary reason I believe that Anatomy of a Boyfriend would make a wonderful read for both sexes. I think there can be quite a lot of pressure placed on a man to ‘take control of the situation’ and make the first move, and I really sympathized as Wesley struggled to open up to Dominique and confess his inexperience. As nice as it can be to indulge in the fantasy of a take-charge man who knows his way around the bedroom, it’s equally nice to watch as the protagonist and her love interest embark on this sort of journey of self discovery together.

“I’m melting, I’m melting,” Amy shrieks, mimicking the Wicked Witch of the West. “I can already see the headline of the EFM Examiner: ‘Strong and Silent Sprinter Swaps Spit with Shorr Science Quiz Savant’.”

Let’s hear it for an author who devotes equal time and attention to the platonic and romantic relationships alike! The development of secondary characters has always been of great importance to me, and I appreciated the depth with which Snadowsky delved into Dominqiue’s relationship with both her parents as well as her best friend, Amy Braff. The daughter of a psychotherapist, I continually marveled at Amy’s unique ability to relate even the most benign comments to sex. She must have taken a page out of Freud’s handbook! This was a constant source of amusement for me and I loved that the two friends were always there for one another when it mattered most. Amy also experiences her own transformation throughout the novel, although to a lesser extent, and I appreciated that she was not simply relegated to the role of the stock, stereotypical best friend whose concerns conveniently begin and end with the protagonist.

“Maybe he’s intimidated. Guys can be real cowards.”
“Intimidated?” I sit up and wipe my eyes with my knuckles. “Please. I am so nothing special.”
“Nothing special?” Dad roars. Then he clears his throat and goes on more calmly. “Dominique, you do well in school, you’re a beautiful girl, and, most important, you’re a fabulous daughter and friend. That’s pretty damned special in my book.”

As a fellow only child, I can also say with some certainty that Snadowsky got it right when it came to the dynamic between Dominique and her parents.. While it’s certainly true that there’s no-one else to deflect attention away from you and therefore a little additional pressure to perform well, I was happy to see that she touched upon the closer relationship an only child often has with their parents. I’m particularly close to mine and it was nice to see this portrayed in a positive light as opposed to Dominique being portrayed as ‘lonely’, which is a common misconception about only children. Trust me when I say I’ve never longed for a sibling for an instant. I appreciated the fact that Dominique’s parents were active, involved participants in their daughter’s life and that the lines of communication were open between them.

“How is it that mankind can engineer condoms to prevent pregnancy and STDs and not be able to invent some sort of emotional safeguard? Is it even possible to abstain from falling in love?”

A novel about the ‘firsts’ that dominate and often define our lives, Anatomy of a Boyfriend documents approximately a year in the life of Dominique as she experiences a sexual awakening with her new boyfriend, Wes. Prospective readers should be aware that this novel does contain passages that are sexually explicit, but this is never utilized in an exploitive or inappropriate manner. Covering everything from masturbation, oral sex and penetration for the first time with a candour and authenticity I greatly appreciated, I think this novel will be a valuable resource for girls and boys alike. In the grand tradition of Judy Blume’s Forever, Anatomy of a Boyfriend is written in an upfront, unvarnished manner and doesn’t condescend to its audience but rather speaks to them on a relatable and realistic level. After reading this novel in a single sitting I think it’s safe to say that I wholeheartedly enjoyed Dominique’s story and laughed and cried right alongside her every step of the way. I can’t wait to find out what’s next for Dominique in the companion novel, Anatomy of a Girlfriend!

Overall Rating

Around The Web

Still not sure this is the right book for you? Why not listen to what some other bloggers had to say about it?

● Tabitha @ Tabitha’s Book Blog wrote “So, basically – I adored this book. LIKE CRAZY. I know not everyone will, but I definitely recommend giving it a chance.” (Read the rest of the review Here!)

● Miranda @ On The Nightstand wrote “The writing style and Dom’s voice were very real and believable as a teenager, and her experiences going through her first real love made me alternately laugh and cringe at memories of my own first love experience.” (Read the rest of the review Here!)

● Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books wrote “This book was definitely a funny read! I kept bursting into laughter while reading the story, as the events and things said really seemed amusing to me. Any book that makes me laugh usually gets instant plus points!” (Read the rest of the review Here!)

9 responses to “Review: Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky”

  1. Hazel says:

    Omygoodness, I think I really must see this book for myself soon!! Those quotes just absolutely HAD me. Dominique just sounds so enjoyable to read. Fantastic review, Jen!!!!!
    Hazel recently posted…Review: Welcome, Caller, This Is ChloeMy Profile

  2. Jen says:

    Oh gosh this book sounds absolutely hilarious! It seems so blunt and it looks like it deals with literally EVERYTHING about the sex world, in a humorous way of course! I’m glad you enjoyed this one so much, Jen. There’s nothing more refreshing than an inexperienced boy! I’m pleased to hear that the author was able to portray the “only child” aspect really well. I’ll have to pick up my own copy soon, thanks for the fabulous review, Jen!
    Jen recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (#4)My Profile

    • It was hilarious, Jen! I rarely laugh aloud while reading but I definitely did so more than once during Anatomy of a Boyfriend. It was authentic but also tongue-in-cheek, and I appreciated that there was no subject that Snadowsky felt was ‘out of bounds’ or too difficult to examine.

      Be sure to let me know what you thought of it once you’ve had the opportunity to read it, Jen! 😀 I would love to get your perspective and chat about it a little more.
      Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader recently posted…Review: Frigid by J. LynnMy Profile

  3. Mandi Kaye says:

    This sounds interesting! I think I might have to add it to my TBR.
    Mandi Kaye recently posted…July 2013 in ReviewMy Profile

  4. I received both books from the author but haven’t found the time to read them. This isn’t the first glowing review I’ve seen so I know these books are going to be FANTASTIC. Would they make good vacation reads? 🙂 I’m getting away for a week; maybe I’ll pack them in my suitcase!

  5. Tina says:

    I haven’t heard of this one, but it sounds like a really great book. It’s great to have a book that addresses sex in the right way. Teenagers do have sex. The characters in this sound very realistic and entertaining too. Great review!
    Tina recently posted…Tow Dolly RentalMy Profile

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