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Naked: Not Your Average Sex Encyclopedia

by Myriam Daguzan Bernier and Cécile Gariépy (ill.); Charles Simard (trans.)

Naked: Not Your Average Sex Encyclopedia is an inclusive, essential nonfiction resource for teens – and adults – that covers all the bases.

Naked explores 155 topics related to sexuality, organized alphabetically from ally, anxiety, and arousal to vaginal flora, victim blaming, and virginity. Expertly written entries by Myriam Daguzan Bernier, a journalist and sexology student at Université du Québec à Montréal (deftly translated into English by Charles Simard), include the etymology of each word or phrase followed by either a few paragraphs or several pages of factual information, specific examples, and straightforward advice. Respect and consent are unequivocally emphasized throughout: “The important thing is to feel good about yourself and make the decision that suits you, not others”; “But above all: You. Don’t. Have. To.”

With a fresh and inviting “How about we talk about it?” candour, this practical guide speaks directly to the reader without condescension, stuffy pedantry, or heteronormative assumptions. Knowledgeable answers to a myriad of matters youth may be curious but afraid to ask about (or unsure whom to turn to about) are shared conversationally. What makes this sex-ed title stand out is the up-to-the-minute dialogue around age-old concerns (e.g. contraception, first times, and what is “normal”) combined with discussions about broader concepts. Nothing is taboo. Bernier debunks myths and stereotypes, lays bare societal hang-ups, encourages a healthy dose of critical thinking about media representations, explains movements such as #MeToo, and much more.

Montreal illustrator Cécile Gariépy’s radiant, curvy, stylized digital graphics are a perfect fit for the body-positive text. Naked figures of all shapes, sizes, and colours are solidly celebrated. A bold, cheeky wit is on full display: entwined limbs playfully frolic – viewed from many different angles and perspectives – and bare-breasted, beautiful beings joyfully recline like Matisse nudes.

The extensive material presented is well-laid-out. Eye-catching, provocatively titled sidebars (“In May, Do What You May”; “The Clitoris Too!”; “A Thousand and One Bums”) supply extra tidbits of information. Also offered are comparison charts, true-or-false rundowns, and book, Netflix, and podcast recommendations. Cross-references and an index aid in discoverability. A list of Canadian organizations that offer online and phone support allows readers “to open doors and look further.”

Non-judgemental, trustworthy, and savvy, Bernier is the counsellor we all wished we had access to in high school. Her words of guidance: “Listen to your tastes and desires, and have fun!”


Reviewer: Linda Ludke

Publisher: Orca Book Publishers


Price: $29.95

Page Count: 256 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 978-1-45983-101-8

Released: May

Issue Date: May 2022

Categories: Children and YA Non-fiction, Kids’ Books

Age Range: 12+