“The Most Dangerous Thing” by Leanne Lieberman— Dealing with Female Desire

Lieberman, Leanne. “The Most Dangerous Thing”, Orca Book Publishers, 2017.

Dealing with Female Desire

Amos Lassen

Sixteen-year-old Sydney is fighting a secret battle against depression, and she’s sure she’ll never have a boyfriend. She also hates to talk about sex. When Paul, one of her classmates starts texting and sending her nature photos, she is surprised by his interest. She starts to reexamine her relationship with her body and with Paul but her depression becomes worse and she is lucky to have friends and family to help her.

Sydney is very shy and has trouble with anxiety, so much so that she avoids eye contact with others and is uncomfortable being touched. She refers to her depression as “the fog” and develops ways to cope with her feelings shy high school student with anxiety attack issues, both physically and mentally. She is Jewish and visits her grandfather regularly and when she is with him she feels love. Her older sister, Amy is planning on staging “The Vagina Monologues” at school for the senior drama festival and Sydney is shocked by this. Paul, her lab partner, takes an interest in her and even though she is attracted by him, she has no idea what to do. Eventually she loses control over “the fog” and has a breakdown and with the help of medication and therapy she is able to break out.

Writer Leanne Lieberman looks at how mental illness and coming-of-age novel intersect here. Sydney is mystified by Paul’s sudden attention and she is overwhelmed by her home life and her mother’s decision to bring more Judaism into the family. Lieberman excels at bringing family, mental health, and sexual awakening together to give us a fascinating read. This is a wonderful book for adolescents dealing with these three issues.

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