________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 3 . . . . September 29, 2006


101 Ways to Dance.

Kathy Stinson.
Toronto, ON: Second Story Press, 2006.
150 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 1-897187-10-6.

Subject Headings:
Teenagers-Sexual behaviour-Juvenile fiction.
Sex-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

**** /4


High above the rest of the island, while aunts emptied the fridge and uncles drained pipes, Dylan took Sarah's face in his hands and he'd kissed her then, finally, warm and wet. Her hands slid over the smooth skin of his back and when he held her to him she might have been half-naked, too, for how sensation tilted through her. This time, she knew,, they would go wherever their horniness took them.

“Dy-lan,” Uncle Greg called from far below them. “Hey, Dylan, where are you? We need you to help pull in the floating dock.”

Dylan whispered, “Never mind,” his breath coming quickly. “Someone else will do it.”

They heard Lydia call, “I think he and Sarah went up Flagpole Hill. Want me to go get him?'”

“Go,” Sarah said. “You have to.”

“I can't.” Dylan pressed his erection against her.

“You'll be okay by the time you get down there.”

“You all right?”

“As all right as you are,” she had answered, “I'll come down later.”

Award-winning Canadian author Kathy Stinson has compiled a group of 14 short stories which all focus on teen sexuality and which seem guaranteed to foster discussion and debate. Teens are surrounded by sex in the media, in sex ed. classes, and simply because they are at an age when they begin to feel desire, love and lust in very tangible ways, and this book deals openly and frankly with the issue.

     The stories in 101 Ways to Dance range widely in setting and theme, from summer activities such as the cottage or an exhibition to school scenes. One is set in a hospital ward. Stinson doesn't shy away from difficult themes. Her stories include gay and lesbian love, teen pregnancy, and a love story focused on two special education students. Stinson's tone never belittles, never judges, never preaches. Instead, she has created very realistic characters who display their love, lust and longing in typical ways. Teen readers will undoubtedly relate to their feelings and their actions.

     The book includes a biography of the author, an interview with her, and an excellent range of discussion questions. More information is available at her website: kathystinson.com. While the stories obviously lead to discussions about the various facets of human sexuality, there are other avenues suggested as well in the discussion questions. For example, "If you expected to die within the next year, what would you want to experience?" or "How do you hope to be like - and unlike - either or both of your parents?"

     Teens are curious about their sexuality and intensely aware of sexual feelings, and Stinson's book addresses the topic in a refreshing and candid manner. Is it too graphic, too tantalizing? Stinson, herself, answers this question:

     There may be adults who will prefer their kids not read the collection, who might say their kids aren't ‘ready' for such stories. But I think it's usually adults who aren't ready to accept that their kids are curious about sex, and about other people's experience of it, even if they aren't yet sexually active themselves. I think most teens (if not all) are sexually curious to some degree, and that those with access to stories about different experiences appreciate the safe context of a book in which to explore that curiosity. If they have an open and comfortable relationship with an adult, then the door will be open to talk about what they've read, if they feel the need.

     This collection of short stories will open a wide variety of conversational doors for teens and for the adults around them. In a world where there is so much focus on “media sex',”this book presents an excellent opportunity to examine how ordinary teens deal with their sexuality without being at all judgmental about their feelings.

Highly Recommended.

Ann Ketcheson, who lives in Ottawa, ON, is a former teacher-librarian and teacher of high school English and French.

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

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.