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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Sixteen-year-old Renley needs three thousand dollars for the math club’s trip to New York City, and she knows exactly how to get it: she’s going to start a how-to blog where people pay for answers to all of life’s questions from a “certified expert.” The only problems: 1) She doesn’t know how to do anything but long division and calculus. 2) She’s totally invisible to people at school. And not in a cool Gossip Girl kind of way. So, she decides to learn to do . . . well . . . everything. When her anonymous blog shifts in a more scandalous direction and the questions (and money) start rolling in, she has to learn not just how to do waterfall braids and cat-eye makeup, but a few other things, like how to cure a hangover, how to flirt, and how to make out (something her very experienced, and very in-love-with-her neighbor, Drew, is more than willing to help with). As her blog’s reputation skyrockets, so does “new and improved” Renley’s popularity. She’s not only nabbed the attention …

How to Make Out

by Brianna Shrum

Overall Book Review:

How to Make Out is the story of Renley, a modern teenage girl trying to figure out a way to earn enough money to attend a math trip to New York.  Her idea, a blog where she answers “how to” questions leads her on a journey of self-discovery and firsts in all sorts of arenas.  From dying her hair and learning how to waterfall braid to making out with a boy for the first time, Renley posts anonymously the answers that people are dying to know.

The plot line of this book isn’t new.   Renley is a typical teenager having trouble with parents (although her troubles are maybe a bit more extreme than average), deciding which boy she likes more, and how to navigate best friend versus boyfriend time priorities.  What is interesting is how the author chooses to go about bringing the book to an end.  A tremendous buildup throughout the book and then an even more magnificent fall from grace.  I found myself wanting to give Renley a hug and hold her just like a momma would.  It definitely takes a level of talent in writing to bring out that kind of emotional response in readers.

As outlined below, this book has numerous sexual references, themes, innuendo and situations.  Thus, the age recommendation is definitely the more mature teenage and older audience.

Fans of YA romance will find this book an enjoyable read and Renley a lovable character and a great chance to cheer on the boy they most want to win her heart.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Sky Pony Press

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  7 mild obscenities; 12 derogatory names; 36 scatological words; 6 anatomical terms; 2 offensive hand gestures.

Violence/Gore:  Teen girl tips boy over in chair (more comical then mean-spirited); teen girl and boy playfully push and shove each other; teen boy punches another in the face resulting in bruising.

Sex/Nudity:  Numerous instances of teens kissing and holding hands; two page extended scene of teens making out; teen boy takes off his shirt in front of teen girl (six times); two teen girls get a bikini wax (moderate detail); teens joke about sleeping together; teens sleep in same bed five times (no sex); many references to having sex; four page scene where teen girl is caught with numerous condoms; four page discussion between father and daughter about sex (not graphic) and sexually transmitted diseases; references to “getting laid”; reference to being a bisexual; several instances of arm around shoulder or waist; hand on thigh during kissing; teen girl gives teen boy a “hand job” (no graphic detail); three mature discussions about sex between teens; 2 page scene of teens stripping each other from waist up; teen hears adults having sex three times.

Mature Subject Matter:

Divorce, marriage infidelity, parental promiscuity.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Teens drink a beer while cooking; teens drink at party (twice), both beer and hard liquor; teen has hangover.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I am a full-time mom, full-time wife, and overtime reader. I have been an avid reader for as long as anyone can remember. It must run in the family because both my mother and grandmother are also voracious readers and often pass books back and forth. Almost any genre can spark my interest, but I often go in streaks, reading a bunch of books from one genre, then switching to another for a while and back again.