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by Paul Ruditis
Simon Pulse, 2005
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on May 9th 2006

Rainbow Party

Rainbow Party is a novel for young adults about the sex lives of sophomores at "Harding High."  The time frame of most of the novel is just two hours in one day, from 1:00pm to 3:05pm.  It is a quick read, since the bulk of the writing is in the form of dialog between the high school students.  Author Paul Ruditis provides little characterization and he does not make the plot either credible or interesting.  It is hard to keep the different teens separate and there's no motivation to try.  The book is far less interesting than Doing It by Melvin Burgess (reviewed in Metapsychology 9:17) because while Burgess captures the excitement and nervousness of teens exploring sex, Ruditis just seems to be capitalizing on the controversies about young adolescents and their sexual activities. 

Maybe the strongest feature of Rainbow Party is its readiness to accept the reality of teenage sexual activity and some of the issues young people face when dating: fidelity, love, reputations, same-sex experimentation, how far to go, and whether oral sex is really sex.  It also includes of STDs and the importance of condoms, although in the novel they are used more as balloons than as contraceptive devices.  The book doesn't celebrate promiscuity, and indeed many of the characters find reasons to avoid the "rainbow party" even though they would get to participate in group oral sex.  Yet at the same time, several characters are ready to despite their reservations, mainly because they want to live up to a certain image.

There's been plenty of discussion in the popular media about how shocking and deplorable it is that young people just out of puberty are doing these things, although it isn't clear how much of a change there is in overall trends in recent decades.  Some evidence has suggested that while the average age of first sexual activity is still decreasing in the USA, it is in fact increasing in Europe, where paradoxically attitudes seem more liberal.  It is probably a good idea for young people to be thinking about their actions beforehand, and definitely they should be making good decisions.  I would not recommend Ruditis' Rainbow Party to teens, however, because it is not a thoughtful or sensitive book.  We can hope that publishers will find other books that address the interests of today's teens in ways that do a better job of examining the emotions, rewards and risks that go with sexual exploration. 

 

© 2006 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

 

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Review.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.