Awkward, straining, confusing.
Those are not stereotypically the
first words used to describe first
love. But in Daria Snadowsky's
first novel, Anatomy of a
Boyfriend, the main character,
Dominique Baylor, is overwhelmed
by her sudden crush on the star
track runner, Wesley Greshwin.
The story begins just after the end
of first semester of senior year,
and Dom is finally relieved of the
whole cycle of college entrances,
SAT scores and filling out long
applications (aptly titled
"craplications") Now that the work
is done Dom finally allows herself
to pursue a relationship, which she
has never done before.
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The Courier: The main character of Anatomy of a Boyfriend, Dominique Baylor, relates almost seamlessly with your target audience. Did you draw inspiration for her character through past experiences or is she based on someone you know?
Snadowsky: Although Anatomy of a Boyfriend is fictional, my past certainly informed Dominique’s emotional odyssey through first love. Romantic love is one of those completely irrational, nonsensical states of mind that’s very hard to sympathize with if you haven’t personally succumbed to it, so I don’t think I could have written a word of Anatomy of a Boyfriend without having been there myself.
The Courier: You dedicated this book to Judy Blume, another author of the same genre. Is your book meant to be the next generations upgrade to her novel Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret?
Snadowsky: Are You There God? is one of my favorite books ever, and I appreciate how that book demystifies adolescence. In Anatomy of a Boyfriend, I certainly try to demystify first love and first sex in a similarly candid, accessible way, though my central inspiration was actually Judy Blume’s Forever. Both Forever and Anatomy of a Boyfriend concern couples who fall in love over senior year of high school and plan on dating in college, which is a scenario that affects thousands upon thousands of teens each year. But whereas Forever ends during the summer after high school, Anatomy of a Boyfriend follows the characters through their first year of college in order to illustrate the unavoidable conflict between, on the one hand, being open to all the new and exciting experiences college has to offer, and on the other, attempting desperately to hold on to the past.
Eventually, Wes and Dom start
going out and that's when the
true nature of this book reveals
itself. It does not take too long
for Wes and Dom to go from shy
to totally all over each other.
This book is so brutally honest
about their ...um... experiences
that you actually might want to
skip over the paragraph to save
yourself the embarrassment! But,
of course, if you did that then
you'd be missing out on the whole
point of this book: love does not
come easily or smoothly.
There are awkward moments in
every relationship. Snadowsky
illustrates these two characters
first experiences in an authentic
voice. You'd almost think you
were reading your best friend's
Snadowsky: I firmly believe that the availability of information about love and sex is far less dangerous to teens than its absence. Love can be an overwhelming, all-consuming feeling, and sex is often an embarrassing subject for young adults to talk about with their parents and even with each other, so it's important teens have access to books that explain the subjects in a frank, un-sensationalized and un-romanticized way
When we grow up on fairytales like Cinderella, it's perfectly natural for us to expect that our first loves will last forever and that we'll know exactly what to do when the lights dim. Anatomy of a Boyfriend demonstrates that that's not necessarily the case and that “first times” are often accompanied by awkwardness and disappointment.
The Courier: Was there any specific message you were trying to get across to you readers?
Snadowsky: In Anatomy of a Boyfriend, I wasn’t pressing for any moral or lesson in particular. I just wanted to do a straighforward, nonjudgmental treatment about the roller coaster of first love. I’ve always thought it unfortunate that “love” is saddled with such negative connotative words, such as “crazy”, “nuts,” “obsession” and “infatuation,” especially since love is a normal, human experience that can affect even the smartest, most rational people. Domininque is an ordinary, intelligent girl who experiences all these feelings for the first time, and she thinks she's acting crazily, when in reality she's just going through the most natural thing in the world. In the end, it’s up to the individual reader to decide whether all the highs and lows Dominique experiences are worth it, or if she would have been better off never getting involved with Wes.
The Courier: Any last thoughts you would like to share with our readers?
Snadowsky: Speaking of Judy Blume, in March of ‘06, almost a year before Anatomy of a Boyfriend hit shelves, I sent Judy Blume a mostly-edited version of the manuscript along with a letter informing her that I dedicated the book to her. A few weeks passed... and in May she sent me an email! She said she enjoyed the book so much she “had trouble putting it down.” That was a dream come true for me since she is my biggest inspiration, and I just hope Anatomy of a Boyfriend connects to some readers as profoundly as her books did with me when I was in high school.