Adult Virgins Anonymous
by Amber Crewe
Are you still a virgin?
Want to talk about it in a safe space?
Meetings every other Tuesday.
You’re not alone.
Kate Mundy’s life is not going to plan. Nearing thirty, she’s been made redundant from her job, her oldest friends have quietly left her behind, and she can barely admit her biggest secret: she’s never even been on a date, let alone taken her underwear off with a member of the opposite sex.
Freddie Weir has spent most of his twenties struggling severe OCD and anxiety, and now his only social interactions consist of comic book signings and fending off intrusive questions from his weird flatmate Damian. There’s no way Freddie could ever ask a girl out and now he’s wondering if this is the way it might be forever.
When Freddie and Kate meet at a self-help group for adult virgins, they think they might just be able to help each other out so they can both get on with finding their real romantic destinies. But might these two have more in common than just their lack of experience?
I received an eARC of Adult Virgins Anonymous from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Hmm this is a difficult one to review. I can’t say there’s anything wrong with Adult Virgins Anonymous, and it was a quick read, but I didn’t particularly enjoy reading it either. This book was a downer.
Which is odd because, like any contemporary romance (although I’m not sure I’d define this story as a romance), there is, of course, a happy ending. Except that there’s no real chemistry between our protagonists and, to me, the ending didn’t exactly feel that happy.
Kate and Freddie are both in their twenties, they’re both still virgins and for both of them it’s something they’re ashamed of and something that plays heavily on their minds. This is no surprise when we live in a society that’s obsessed with sex.
I was intrigued by this novel because I don’t think virginity in adulthood is something we talk about enough. (I’m going to call it that for lack of a better word, but personally the word ‘virginity’ leaves a bad taste in my mouth.) Most coming-of-age stories will see their protagonist have some kind of sexual experience in their teens, but it doesn’t happen for everyone that way—for a variety of reasons.
For Kate sex is something she’s always equated with love and, despite her best efforts, love is something that just hasn’t happened for her yet. For Freddie sex is another part of his life that’s been hit hard by his anxiety and OCD and his tendency to overthink almost everything. When the two of them find a group called Adult Virgins Anonymous to discuss their feelings and experiences, the two of them make a deal to ‘help each other out’.
Firstly, I’m pleased that I didn’t get any acephobia from this novel. Does a part of me wish either Kate or Freddie might have realised sex had never happened because, actually, they just didn’t want to have it? Kind of, but I’m not mad that this didn’t happen because there is an asexual character in the group they attend who is very vocal about how not wanting sex is perfectly fine.
While I do appreciate the discussion around Freddie’s mental health, I did find him a little more frustrating than Kate. It felt like every single progression in their relationship happened because Kate instigated it, which left it all feeling a little one-sided for me; even when the two of them agree to have sex, it never occurs to Freddie that a) foreplay will make sex more comfortable for Kate (she has to tell him this) and b) it’ll be a lot more difficult for her to have an orgasm than him, and sex could potentially be painful for her the first time around. I get that the guy has no experience of sex, but if he knows absolutely nothing why doesn’t he do a little research?
I don’t dislike Freddie at all, there were just times when it felt like Kate was doing a lot of hand-holding and I wanted their relationship to be more equal in that sense. In fact their relationship as a whole didn’t really feel like a romance to me – I was genuinely quite surprised when the two of them were talking about loving each other at the end, because I didn’t understand why they loved each other – and that’s not the end of the world at all, but for me the ending didn’t quite suit what the rest of this novel had been.
So Adult Virgins Anonymous is a strange one. It didn’t make me angry or uncomfortable, but to be honest a lot of that is because it didn’t make me feel much at all—except a little down in the dumps.