Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers, Mark D. Regnerus

Desultory.

I was going to make that my whole review.  Get it?  Get it?  Cause that the book was desultory and so was my review, see?  See what I would have done there?  But then I wanted to gripe about some stuff, so I decided to expand upon the ways in which it was desultory and have a moan about them.  I can do that if I want.  The Rules of the Internet say so.

I was anticipating enjoying Forbidden Fruit.  Sex and religion in the lives of American teenagers?  That is very interesting!  Plus, I flipped through it and saw tables containing data, so I thought, oh hooray, data-filled tables, that means that this author has researchy data to back up his claims.  We all support researchy data.  I wasn’t expecting, however, for the book to be completely made up of only the stats, which is what it essentially was.  The author brings up studies, presents tables, and tells us what the best bits of each of the tables say, and then, in case we don’t believe the Statistical Facts, quotes a stammering inarticulate teenager or two.  For anecdotal evidence.  I suspect this author has taken the same class in Programs and Practice Evaluation that I attended once, and learned that both anecdotal and statistical evidence have their place.

What’s lacking (I thought) is an in-depth exploration of any of the fascinating issues the book raises!  For a while, I was so innocent and naive and foolish, and when I saw a chapter subheading that looked interesting, I got excited; and then I caught on that the subheadings were never going to live up to their promise.  All v. disappointing.  Not that the statistics weren’t telling  a good story – they were – but there was more to be said, and the author never said any of it.  The interviews with the teenagers were virtually never used for anything other than to back up what the data was saying, when it could have been used to give depth.

Oh, yeah, and super heterocentric too.  I am interested in teenagers’ sexual ethics, but this is not the book from which to learn about them.

  • That’s such a pity. The topic really is very interesting, and I’d love to read a good book about it.

    • I know! I read about this book in an article called “Red Sex, Blue Sex” about sexual mores for teenagers in conservative vs. liberal households – the article was soo interesting, and I expected the book to be, too. Sigh.