Hungry Planet, led by the dynamic duo of Hayley and Micheal DiMarko, have hit another one out of the park. Their book, Almost Sex: 9 Signs You are About to Go Too Far is the new resource for boys only, and is the answer to the female equivalent, Technical Virgin. I would say that, as a whole, the book is a solid tool for any jr. high ministry. However, I do question a couple of choices the author made stylistically.
The most intriguing chapter, from a literary standpoint, was by far Self Service. I am pretty sure the title speaks for itself, but I will put it out there: This chapter was on porn and masturbation. Michael choses at this point to write on pornography first and, then, tackle common masturbation issues and queries. He, though, does not write anything new as he switches subjects. He simply strikes out the word pornography and inserts masturbation in its place. I thought this was a great way to show the connectivity of the two issues, and the conclusion is that both areas will make you lazy and hinder your search for the perfect mate. The ideas that are made are to show how disillusionment can enter into your life if these two false disciplines penetrate your lifestyle.
One literary aspect that I did not appreciate about the book was the continued use of slang, old terminology, and off-the-cuff remarks (“betty,” “po-po,” “FWB,” etc.). My questions were along the lines of: How many teens actually know that “betty” is a term for girls? How many adults know that “po-po” is slang for policeman and not a “poo-poo” spelled wrong? This is just a couple of examples of how I thought that such a straight and forward book, in terms of its content, could get its aims and focuses so sidetracked.
On a good note, the book is jam packed with Bible verses to back up its claims and allows for a very easy transition from book to possible curriculum for leaders willing to take that scary dive into healthy relationships. Each topic and chapter covered has biblical backing and, at the end of the book, there is a section entitled Your Spiritual Entourage. What a great resource for any junior high student looking for some guidance!
At the start of this journey, Michael asks that you fill in where the “line” will be for you in your sexual life. I read this and thought that the answer for this was not an option. Sex or no sex. I think that some students would take this as an opportunity to make their line fuzzy or gray, by allowing some areas of sin stay in their lives, or for those who choose no sin might get confused by their choice.
The chapter that I found that I would have appreciated the most during this time of my life was chapter seven entitled The Great Depression. The book, at this point, looks to connect the emotional factors of not only going too far in a relationship, but the emotional factors that come from simply having a girlfriend. The note that is taken from this is that a girl wonʼt solve your problems. In fact, many teenagers that are in relationships are more depressed than their single counterparts. The answer given to respond to depression is simple and is directly connected to our Christian lives: Confess and repent. A simple answer to a deep, dark question.
The book is a must-have for youth workers, as is the entire Hungry Planet library. Not many resources allow for personal connection, involvement, and show a deep love and concern for the youth for which they are writing. Guy Girl Talk by Youth Specialties is still, in my opinion, the best option for teaching healthy relationships to youth, but as far as a guys-only option, I have yet to find a resource that covers as many issues as Michael does without becoming too washed out.