Sunday, July 03, 2005


It's rare that I want to spoil a book by telling too much of the story and revealing the ending. But given the bad rap the Raindow Party by Paul Ruditis is gettin by people who obviously haven't read any of it, I want to clear the book's name.

I picked up this book because, as a writer who is working on a novel about teenagers, I wanted to see how another auther dealt with the topic of oral sex. A Rainbow Party, according to the book, is an oral sex party where the girls all wear different shades of lipstick and the guys try to get as many different colors on their penis as possible. Sound shocking?

The only character in the book who has ever heard of thes kinds of parties hears about it from Donovan, a talk show lamenting the state of today's teenagers. She thinks it's a great idea, given her desires to be with as many guys as she can and her desires to break up and create couples among her classmates. The other characters in the book only hear of the party from her, and they all have trouble believing such a thing exists.

The book has many literary faults, like trouble with dialogue, the necessary "I wonder if I'm gay" character, some questionable sexual experiences, and a narrator who floats from character to character even within a scene to provide internal monologue. But he does succeed in describing the fascination, reluctance, and fear that teenagers feel toward sex, even oral sex that isn't "real sex." As the characters debate going to the party, as they fear ridicule for not going, as they fear being completely unprepared mentally for oral sex, they are portrayed sympathetically and realistically. Each character haas different feelings, from the president of the Celibacy Club to the boy who leaves his girlfriends house just after they've been busted for fooling around and immediately hooks up with her best friend.

And most importantly, almost no one comes to the Rainbow Party. Almost no one wants to come, and finally they realize that that's okay - they don't need to go, they have better things to do like preserve a relationship built on mutual respect and trust, try to pick up that hot chick who's been watching them play basketball, and deal with a mother who's just found out what her darling girl has been up to.

There are two instances of oral sex in the whole book. Both have interesting backstories and consequences. Neither is written gratutiously. Neither dwells on the sexual aspects but instead on the emotional impact and the consequences.

This is not a great book by any stretch of the immagination. But the character's views toward oral sex are, in my experience, real. And the fact that only one character had ever heard of a Rainbow Party, and even then from a TV show lamenting the state of teenagers today, coupled with the mass condemnation of this book, speaks volumes about how we want to see teenagers.

If you read fast, this book is worth reading (I read it in a night). If you read slow, I've already highlighted the key points, so the decision is yours.

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