Cover of Let's Talk About It by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan. Various diverse cartoon teens.

About the Book

Title: Let’s Talk About It: The Teen’s Guide to Sex, Relationships, and Being a Human (A Graphic Novel)
Published: 2021

Cover Story: Body Positive
Drinking Buddy: Drunk Does Not Equal Consent
MPAA Rating: NC-17 (Nudity, language, sex)
Talky Talk: That One Page…
Bonus Factor: Diversity
Bromance Status: Health Class

Cover Story: Body Positive

A good representation of the diverse characters in this book. I especially like how they portray disabled and overweight people as sexual beings worthy of attraction.

The Deal:

A graphic novel for teens about sexuality, body image, gender identity, consent, masturbation, LGBTQ issues, etc. Everything a teen would want to know, without judgement, the ignorance of one’s friends, or the internet wasteland. Cartoon teens walk us through questions modern young people might have.

Drinking Buddy: Drunk Does Not Equal Consent

Two pints of beer cheersing

One of the most diverse books I’ve read. People of all colors, sexualities, gender identities, body types, religions, disabilities, etc. Once again, I appreciate a book that shows that you don’t have to be skinny to be beautiful or that only fully-abled people are sexually active.

MPAA Rating: NC-17 (Nudity, language, sex)

This graphic novel is very graphic. Full frontal nudity, illustrations of genitalia and intercourse, discussions of all matter of sexual acts, etc. This book shows sex as natural and normal, but know what you’re getting into before recommending this to someone underage.

Now when you’re an adolescent, you’re going to have a lot of questions, and not just just simple ones. This book covers issues that a questioning teen might not want to go with to their parents or friends: What if I don’t feel my gender matches my body? What if I fantasize about strange, impossible scenarios? And quite frankly, how does everything ‘work’? There are no stupid questions.

Talky Talk: That One Page…

My fourteen-year-old daughter is having her mandatory 8th grade sex respect classes. And the instructor, I shit you not, uses terms like ‘the front of the underwear zone’. Seriously. When I had this class in fifth grade in 1986, they didn’t shy away from words like ‘penis’ and ‘vagina.’ But there’s been a spate of ‘abstinence only’ crusades recently, and kids are turning to sources outside the school for education. This is a book that will answer these questions without euphemisms.

That being said, this book absolutely dropped the ball when it came to STDs. The entire chapter about safe sex only deals with birth control (and never mentions the concept of unplanned pregnancy). This is the only nod toward sexually transmitted diseases:

There are some (STDs) that are untreatable like HPV and herpes…But even those aren’t worth fretting over beyond keeping some good practices…

There ARE some scary infections out there like HIV. But you know what? Even that can be treated with antivirals to the point where it becomes undetectable.

Yeah, HIV isn’t the death sentence it was thirty years ago, but AIDS still kills a million people every year. You also have to take a very expensive cocktail of drugs every day for the rest of your life. And herpes can be symptomatic, with outbreaks that may never go away. I know the authors are trying to destigmatize STDs, but when you’re literally quoting the over-the-top bad guy in a Jack Chick comic, perhaps you should take the issue more seriously. There’s a difference between shame and being cautious.

Bonus Factor: Diversity

Faces of all different races, ethnicities and genders.

This graphic novel is a series of vignettes about young people discussing and experiencing sexual situations. It would be very hard for a reader not to find a character that looks like them somewhere in this book. There’s an excellent variety of races, colors, body types, and abilities. This is one of the few times I’ve seen deaf characters in a graphic novel, and the default body type wasn’t svelte. They also remind us that some women have penises and some men menstruate.

Bromance Status: Health Class

I sure could have used a book like this in middle school. I appreciate your attitude of ‘It’s okay, so long as you’re not hurting anyone.’ But diseases and pregnancy are real things, and you’re not doing anyone any favors by pretending otherwise.

Literary Matchmaking

Positively Teen

For a much worse book about questions teens have, try Nicola Morgan’s Positively Teen.

Get the Perfect Date Perhaps a Lifetime Mate!

Or Bob Hinds’s Get the Perfect Date.


Rainbow Rowell’s Pumpkin Heads is a much better graphic novel.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received neither money nor booze for writing this review, though the publisher was kind enough to send me a free copy. Let’s Talk About It is out now.

Also full disclosure: When I was sixteen, I honest to God believed there were only 69 sexual positions, and mutual oral sex happened to be the last one on the official list. Again, this book would have come in handy.

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.