Sexy - Joyce Carol Oates17610_fOK, so we all know that my admiration for Joyce Carol Oates knows no bounds, that I have read a lot of her stuff but that there is still a huge amount out there to read because she is astonishingly prolific. One of the areas she writes in that I haven’t explored in too much detail is her young adult stuff, and Sexy definitely falls into that category.

Darren Flynn is 16, athletic (he swims in his school team) and beginning to realise, uncomfortably, that he is attractive. As he is struggling to come to terms with his identity he has an encounter with a male teacher who clearly has some regard for him, and this confuses him even more. The same teacher then becomes a target for a campaign by a number of other students, most of them friends of Darren’s from the swim team, which rapidly gets out of hand and has serious consequences, not least for Darren who gets dragged in to the whole thing and has to decide not only what to do but how he feels.

It’s quite difficult to write about this short, powerful novel without giving away what happens, so all I’m going to say is that I thought this was extremely well-written as you would expect, that Darren himself was a compelling character, and that unfortunately what the teenagers get up to is all too believable. Sometimes young people are just not very pleasant, but this is compounded by a tendency not to think things through, or to be aware that their actions have outcomes and consequences which are often beyond what they intended.

A really interesting and worthwhile reading experience.