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The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me

Review

The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me

Olivia Hinebaugh’s debut novel, THE BIRDS, THE BEES, AND YOU AND ME is an inspiring story written to the rhythm of revolution. When their senior year of high school finishes, Lacey Burke just wants to attend Berklee College of Music alongside her best friends, Evita and Theo. Between rehearsing original musical pieces in the group’s garage band, playing in a string quartet for her independent study and juggling all her regular school work, it’s clear that Lacey has her hands full. Then, while taking a senior seminar for easy credits, she is exposed to her school’s abstinence-only sex education curriculum.

"Hinebaugh challenges the shame and taboo surrounding sex in high school, pushing the reader to consider the negative repercussions of shaming and demonizing sexual activity."

It isn’t the first time Lacey has encountered the prejudicial program. Unfortunately, many teens in Lacey’s school are uncomfortable discussing sex due to their schools ridiculing sex-ed curriculum that demonizes sexually active teenagers. As a result, teen pregnancies are not uncommon in her school as the students are poorly informed on safe sexual practices. Her mother, a strong-willed woman who teaches Lacey to be proud of herself and her femininity, knows firsthand how damaging the stigma against teaching safe-sex is. Having been a teen mother herself, she encourages Lacey to understand the complications of an abstinence-only sex-ed program. Lacey doesn’t disappoint --- not about to let anyone else fall victim to the idiocy of the teaching plan, and despite her total lack of relationship experience, Lacey doesn’t hesitate to spearhead underground sex-advice sessions and dispense “sanitary-health products” in the girl’s bathroom during lunch. Challenging her school’s sex-ed curriculum with newfound confidence, Lacey takes on a mission to educate her classmates even at the risk of suspension for dispensing “inappropriate content.” Let’s just say Lacey isn’t usually one to break or bend the rules.

Throughout her novel, Hinebaugh challenges the shame and taboo surrounding sex in high school, pushing the reader to consider the negative repercussions of shaming and demonizing sexual activity. Informative and inclusive, Hinebaugh’s debut also emphasizes safe practices within queer relationships. Asexuality and same-sex relationships are brought up continuously, emphasizing the importance of including people of all experiences in health-related conversations as society moves forward.

I fell in love with THE BIRDS, THE BEES, AND YOU AND ME. I finished it in two sittings, reading until I was bleary-eyed and had to be told to go to bed. The characters are extremely well-written, each with their own quirks and flaws --- but Hinebaugh doesn’t undermine any character’s issues as they are compared to one another’s. Rather, she discusses each problem individually and allows the characters to find their own solutions. Her characters are of all different sexualities and backgrounds, but they accept each other and act as pillars of strength for one another when needed, which I found extremely touching. It reminds me that no matter what, everyone is human, and that we can all help each other if we try.

Hinebaugh’s wonderful novel is progressive in today’s society, where women are often shamed for sex whereas men are often celebrated. Throughout the book, time and time again, Hinebaugh repeatedly reminds the reader that what one does with their own body, or what occurs naturally, is nothing to be ashamed of --- nor is asking for help or advice in regards of their body.

I recommend THE BIRDS, THE BEES, AND YOU AND ME to anyone searching for a story to read until the sun rises. Beautifully written and quick-paced, this book should definitely be nestled in the palm of your hand. You’ll fall in love with it too.

Reviewed by Claire O., Teen Board Member on January 29, 2019

The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me
by Olivia Hinebaugh