BLOG REVIEW: Popping the Cherry by Aurelia Rowl

17y.o. heroine is glad she didn't go through her plans to have sex with her boyfriend of 3 years since he just dumped her.
Her close friends, however, see her virginity as a problem and they give her a list of guys to choose from. She didn't feel any rush to have sex before but her friend's "intervention" makes her think twice about it.
Trouble ensues from her very first date off the list. And it’s her best friend’s 21y.o. brother Hero who saves her.  
The time they spend together, watching movies & talking,
opens her eyes to how great he is and how manly he’s become.  
However, she notes that her best friend isn’t pleased with her spending time alone with her brother. Even though Hero volunteers to teach her to drive, they decide to keep it a secret from her best friend.  But in doing so, it forces them do things they don’t really want to do like date other people. Separating them even more. At what length will they go to please her others? When will they choose each  other?

I wasn’t sure whether this book was YA or NA because heroine’s age & the British education system is different than the US.  My online research showed me that 17-year-old British heroine technically belongs in the new-adult age group. Note: In England, age of mandatory schooling is up to age 18/drinking: age 18/driving: age 17/consent: age 16 with exceptions. Heroine attends sixth-form college, which is like junior college here in the U.S. but in a high-school-like setting Thus, the lockers & cafeteria scenarios with their teen cliques and their conversations that's very reminiscent of American high school.  Her friends' ganging up on her to pressure her to get rid of her virginity with the unspoken threat of her rejection is a classic example. It was brought up in quite a degrading, dehumanizing, and crude manner. I cringed at the pressure heroine was put on.  I felt bad for her caving in to  peer pressure but understood her desire to belong. She was in no rush to have sex but this threat changed things. She responded passive-aggressively as a result. She went on dates just to show her friends that she was following their plan. Yet she secretly knew she wasn't going to have sex with them. Her secret relationship with Hero was another passive-aggressive act. She met with him secretly yet denied anything more than friendship with him. She was so scared of losing her best friend who didn't want her dating her brother. Yet there was a part of her that didn't want to easily let go of Hero. Thus, the passive aggression.

Hero was a nice & respectful guy. He was a tad too passive though. He also let his younger sister dictate his relationship with heroine. He submitted to heroine’s fears about his sister’s rejection instead of being assertive and talking to his sister directly about wanting a relationship with heroine.  It wouldn’t have directly jeopardized heroine’s relationship with his sister and it would’ve shown how much he cared for her. He did redeem himself later. It took time & heartache for him to muster up the motivation and courage to man-up to his sister. Actually both he and heroine were finally forced to make the more harder choice once they were miserable enough.  But those were their growing pains. All the trouble they went through to pretend, keep secrets, & do things they didn’t want to did motivate them alter to change & make harder adult choices.  The fallout was bad and life was worsening for awhile. But it’s what allowed Hero & heroine to finally be together. So, although their initial actions & decisions were immature & fear-based, they did some growing up. It motivated to make more difficult but better choices. I liked how we get to see the process of their maturity—the stumbling, bumbling, and righting itself process of adulthood.

Good writing & overall emotional tone. Some angst from their inability to be together & the misunderstandings they had. Secondary characters (i.e., family members, friends) provided humor, drama, and support to the main characters, making their coming-of-age journey realistic and engaging. Sexual tension between Hero and heroine was subtle but developed as their attraction grew through their secret meetings. I liked how the sex scene was generalized. It helped balanced out the degrading way that heroine’s sexual life was publicized. The generalized sex scene between Hero & heroine gave her the privacy & respect her sex life deserved.

I moderately recommend this book.
3.5-star

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