Series: Issues #1
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Vivid Iiink
Publication Date: 4/28/14
Rating: 4 stars
Natasha “Tash” Bohner just turned eighteen. Theoretically, that should mean escaping from trailer park purgatory—and her less than stellar relationship with her widowed mother—and running away to Los Angeles with her anorexic best friend, Margot. But as we all know, life is known for taking some very shitty, unexpected turns. Already the scourge of the Guthrie High gossip mill, Tash’s undesirable reputation explodes into infamy when she assaults the captain of the wrestling team. (Despite the fact that he deserved it,) the principal tells her that she’s on her last strike.
Again, see: above. Re: shit happens. When Margot’s will to live is finally severed by the leader of the Guthrie Bitch Squad, Tash vows to get revenge on the most popular girl in school—no matter what it takes. Because of a promise she made to her favorite teacher (to not get expelled), Tash is forced to get creative. She realizes she’s going to have to beat the popularity-obsessed Becca Foster at her own game, by running against her for prom queen. And winning.
In order to succeed, Tash will have to do the unthinkable: she’ll have to join student government, pretend to be well-adjusted, and actually try in school. Also, she’ll have to quit swearing so goddamn much.
It’s like a fucking Cinderella story up in here. Only, it’s high school. So there aren’t any happy endings. (Just beginnings.)
I rarely read YA anymore. I'm just into stories I can presently relate to and my kids will be in that age group before I know it and I'd really rather not face it right now. But the YA books I do enjoy tend to be issues stories. Given this is the Issues series - and the author promised me an interesting journey- I thought it might be a good fit for me.
Promiscuous was actually a great fit. It's a very interesting book, almost provocative, in that from the very first sentence, I had to know what Tash would say next. The fourth wall is down, or so it seems, with Tasha speaking directly to the reader. She's a powerful narrator, with a initially shocking voice and story. In fact, I think my heart broke a little right away.
I will say that I know some will find Tash's words crude or rude. But if you give the story a chance, you'll find a girl who's in a world of pain, who's been dismissed by those who should've protected her. Who's been made to feel dirty and cheap. Her words are her armor, as is her attitude. If you can get past that armor, there's a story about a girl who deserves more. And I loved that.
Promiscuous deals with a myriad of heavy issues, such as sexual abuse, neglect, extreme bullying, eating disorders, slut shaming, suicide, rape culture, and probably a few more I haven't recalled. I know there are many who'd turn away from a story like this, and I get it. It's hard. No one likes these issues, but it's important to learn, talk, and share so we can help those in need. I would imagine Promiscuous could help someone who's looking for a voice. Having read it, I certainly feel better, more equipped.
I think Isobel Irons is a powerful writer, with a bold, important voice. Her author's note brought me to tears. She also includes invaluable resources for those looking for help, or to help others. Two secondary characters in Promiscuous have their own stories, and if they're as good as this one, I would consider those to be should-reads as well.
Some tiny part of me thinks maybe I'm overreacting, maybe it's not that big of a deal. Teenage drama. A harmless prank. Something we'll laugh about later. I have no doubt that's what my mom would say, or Principal Shoemaker.
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
Wrong. What doesn't kill you makes you harder. Angrier. Broken.
People love labels, and as we mentioned before, they hate the complex messiness of the truth. That's why they'll continue to throw those words around, regardless of how much damage they cause, and believe whatever the hell they want.
The Issues Series
(covers lead to GoodReads pages)