Vagina Love: An Owner’s Manual

Street Noise. Feb. 2022. 224p. pap. $19.99. ISBN 9781951491130.
Gr 10 Up–Sohn was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 29, and soon realized that there was a lot she didn’t know about her body or female bodies in general. She began to research the cisgender female body and created an illustrated survey of her findings—for the first time in Belgium in 2018, now translated for English-speaking audiences—including such topics as what it means to be female, anatomy, menstruation and sanitary products, pregnancy and genetics, contraception, orgasms, gynecology, and menopause. Although Sohn (who presents as a white woman) gives a nod to the fact that being female is more than the body parts you do or do not have, respectful discussion of trans women and intersex individuals occurs only minimally. The coverage of topics only goes so deep given the overall scope, and information is shared conversationally; Sohn’s narration utilizes slang, including the regular use of “pussy.” There are a few passing mentions of pornography in discussing sources of sex and anatomical education some individuals consume. The illustrations eschew typical paneling, instead relying on color blocking, white space, illustrations, and text boxes to lead the eye, though not always straightforwardly. Many pages contain paragraphs of information or narration. Bold magenta and purple backgrounds complement surrounding yellow and orange pages, and depictions of body parts are detailed but not obscene or gratuitous. Back matter contains a select bibliography and a short list of websites for further exploration.
VERDICT Sohn provides an informal, informative, and colorful look at information that is often withheld from adolescents with vaginas about their own bodies. Recommended for high school shelves.

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