Friday, April 30, 2010

Wimpy Parents: Domestic Arrangements

I skipped to the last chapter for this Shelf Discovery book, because I'm finding Cici (Chapter 7) rather whiny. I remember Norma Klein as writing about well-off New York City types, which fits with the city family in Domestic Arrangements. The most mature person in the family is fourteen year old Rusty, who has heard her parents talk about self expression and freedom and modern times all her life, and who really thinks people believe in that stuff. So she is surprised when her parents, well, actually only her father, gets so upset when he finds her having sex with her sixteen year old boyfriend.

The father can't bear to be the kind of old fogey who says "no," so instead he tries to have conversations about maturity and emotional consequences, but it's clear he has no idea what he is talking about. I wish he'd mention venereal disease sometime, though. Rusty knows about pregnancy (she asks for a diaphragm for Christmas), but the other dangers of sex are an unknown to her. Since the family already allowed Rusty to pose topless in a movie production, he's lost all the moral credibility he occasionally wishes he had. The mom thinks that everyone should feel comfortable exploring whatever they feel comfortable with, and Rusty takes a long time to figure out it's OK to say "no" to her boyfriend. (She already knows how to say "yes" when she wants to.) It's up to Rusty to figure out appropriate boundaries for herself since her parents are utterly useless in giving any guidance, even when she asks for some. But Rusty probably will be all right, since she does have faith in herself. I'm very glad she turned down the role of Lolita, though.

As a kid, I would have thoroughly enjoyed this titillating book, rooting for the sweet and generous Rusty and being glad that she didn't have to suffer for her lack of virginity (she even has unprotected sex once and gets away with it!). As a parent, I want to throw rotten tomatoes at her family and her boyfriend.

Hey, my library shelves this in Adult Fiction. I guess it was written before YA had its own shelves, but that's kinda funny. B+

No comments: