________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 1 . . . . September 3, 2004


All the Way: Sex for the First Time.

Kim Martyn.
Toronto, ON: Sumach Press, 2003.
216 pp., pbk., $16.95.
ISBN 1-89459-26-0.

Subject Heading:
Sex instruction for teenagers.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up plus guidance counselors and parents.

Review by Joanne Peters.

**** /4


If you're ready to have sex for the first time, or are wondering if you're ready, this book is written with you in mind. There are lots of fun, scary and weird things that you may want to know about. Maybe you're hoping for a "should-I-or shouldn't I?" quiz to help you figure out where you're at with the sex thing. It's all here! Or maybe it's not your first time, but it's your partner's first, and you want it to be amazing for them. Girls reading this may think, "doesn't happen like that with guys, not on this planet." Good news!! It can: I've had guys ask exactly that question about how to make it great on my Web site. Your interest in this topic may be piqued because you sense the time might be right for your friend or sib, and you'd like to help them figure out what's best for
them and how to stay safe. And last but not least, you may have a parent or teacher who would like more info about this subject, so there's a chapter for them.

Kim Martyn has been a sexual health educator for almost twenty years, in both school and community settings, as well as the co-owner of an informational website, www.sexscape.org .

     She is frank and open, with an approach that she describes as both "sex-friendly and gay-positive." (p. 14) Martyn is well aware that there is plenty of information available about the mechanics of sexual activity, but many Canadian teens are misinformed about HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STD's). And she certainly believes that the key to sexual health is information, presented in a fashion that is easy to find and easy to read.

     In eight chapters of this short 216 page book, she covers issues such as readiness for sexual activity (and provides support for those who are not ready, for whatever reason), situations where sexual activity was not a matter of choice (rape, abuse, pressure), the "how-to's" of sex, protection against pregnancy and STD's, information about STD's, FAQ's about first-time sex, the concerns parents and other adults have, and finally, a current resource list of telephone hot-lines, books, videos, and websites which provide valid and reliable information about sexuality and sexual health.

     Martyn is truly respectful of her readership and has a real gift for using both candor and humour in discussing subjects that can be either embarrassing or disturbing (or both!). She also provides some very useful direction to parents who often find it difficult to initiate and then to continue, "the talk." Communication is crucial, and this book uses a variety of means to get the message across: a clear, reader-friendly text, question balloons, charts, graphs, diagrams, and cartoons are all successful in conveying the message that informed choice is the sexually healthy choice. My one small quibble about the book is that it's very contemporary use of graphics and cartoons might "date" the look of the book. However, by that time, it will probably go through a few replacements.

     The frankness of All the Way: Sex for the First Time will make it a hard book to keep on a school library bookshelf, and anyone acquiring it had better be certain that they read it from cover to cover before making it available to their general readership. Some people may not be happy with the content or, at times, the frank language. At the same time, that's what makes this book a great resource for teen readers, guidance counselors, and parents. Worth acquiring!

Highly Recommended.

Joanne Peters is a teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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