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Start Talking – A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom, about Health, Sex, or Whatever

Start Talking – A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom, about Health, Sex, or Whatever

By: Mary Jo Rapini and Janine Sherman 
Publisher: Bayou Publishing 
Publication Date: September 2008 
ISBN: 978-1886298316 
Reviewed by: Miriam Leventhal 
Review Date: April 2009 

I so wish that Start Talking – A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom, about Health, Sex, or Whatever had been available when I was young, not that my mother would have read this book, but it certainly would have been worth my while to nab it from the local library. Mary Jo Rapini and Janine Sherman have written a sex guide that answers every question from menstruation, health care, STD’s, birth control, and body image; to general information on sexuality and relationships.

A Girl's Guide is refreshing and straightforward in its approach, using both a question and answer format, and hypothetical dialogues between a mother and daughter. The authors begin by explaining that where you hold this conversation is just as important as the actual discussion. Putting aside time to take a walk, meet at a coffee shop, or take a drive in the car are some of the suggested settings. As for the basis for this conversation, mothers are encouraged to listen with an open mind to what their daughters have to say before responding. And if you aren't up on all the latest information, Rapini and Sherman supply an answer for almost every topic - from date rape, to condom use, to vaginal infections - and they do so in a non-judgmental manner. Each issue is answered accurately and succinctly and with a dose of common sense.

I actually learned quite a bit about sex thanks to this book. If you have never heard of the term “secondary virgin” you’re in for an eye opener. Although I enjoyed the many hypothetical conversations between a mother and daughter, I did wonder how a mother could remain calm and rational upon hearing her high school daughter reveal that she is pregnant. Minor objections aside, this book is an excellent resource. The authors emphasize several points: make certain your daughter knows she is loved and supported by her parents, let her know that sex is more enjoyable when she has reached emotional maturity (after the age of eighteen), and remind her that should she have questions about sex, you are always available and open to listen. Most importantly, you need to approach your daughter as a parent, not a friend. It is your knowledge and life experiences that will help inform your daughter. With honesty, and a willingness to listen, AND this book in hand, you and your daughter will be able to navigate this challenging topic together.

Quill says: While this conversation with your child may be daunting, with the aid of this book, your prospects for success are much more likely.

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