Author: Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan
Publish Date: March 9, 2021
Publisher: Random House Graphic
Catalog ID: 9781984893147
Where to buy: https://bookshop.org/books/let-s-talk-about-it-the-teen-s-guide-to-sex-relationships-and-being-a-human-9781984893154/9781984893147?aid=1457&listref=recently-reviewed-on-graphicmedicine-org
Author website: https://www.erikamoen.com
guest review by Mae Czerwiec
Co-authors and spouses Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan are perhaps known best for their over-18 sex education and toy review website, Oh Joy Sex Toy. Moen and Nolan have been in the sex education field for years, publishing their graphic novel Drawn to Sex: The Basics in 2018. Let’s Talk About It will be their first publication geared specifically towards a younger, adolescent audience.
Much of Moen and Nolan’s style translates extremely well to this audience. Their cast of characters is as diverse as any I’ve ever seen in any sex education publication, specifically with respect to disabled, transgender, and intersex bodies. Their writing style is direct and no-nonsense, but emphasizes the need for consent and self-reflection when participating in sexual activity. Obviously their background makes Moen and Nolan incredibly sex-positive in their instruction of sensitive topics, effectively erasing the shame many teenagers and young adults come to associate with sex in current education practices.
One aspect of Moen and Nolan’s message that will resonate especially well with adolescent audiences is the statement in the author’s note that “sex education is relationship education”. The authors, unlike other sex educators, do not isolate sex from other aspects of teenage relationships, and emphasize the necessary room for confusion when starting out. This welcome departure removes sex from its pedestal of inaccessability to younger audiences and alleviates much of the mystique surrounding it. It also allows room for the value of relationships that are purely sexual while maintaining the proper respect and and honesty by all involved parties.
Besides talking strictly about physical intercourse and the mechanics of it, Moen (an out-and-proud queer woman) and Nolan provide a concise introduction to some of the personally confusing aspects of sex, including sexuality, gender, and self-expression. Due to their typical line of work, Moen and Nolan are also capable of presenting one of the best adolescent guides to masturbation that I have come across, once again presenting the topic as a guide educating both the body and the mind, while not placing any judgement on the experience.
Overall, Let’s Talk About It by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan provides a fun, judgement-free guide for teenagers and adolescents to partake in responsible, consensual, and realistic relationships, both sexual and sex-free. The diversity and apprehension of their characters makes their storylines relatable, and their explanations reduce the shame and stigma that can often accompany adolescent sex education.