Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.
Wow. What a very good/solid book. I laughed a few times and also had so much sympathy for the main character Monique, otherwise known as Mo. I think this is the first book I have read in a while that really resonated with my upbringing. I was raised in the Black Baptist church as is the fictional character. And boy I had some flashbacks to conversations I had with my parents about sex. I definitely recall the looks from my mom and grandmother gave me and my brothers for not paying attention in church. And I also recall willing with my entire body for our pastor to wrap stuff up after his 10th time dancing up and down the steps as he went about his sermon. Black churches are definitely a culture. I don’t go to church anymore, because I honestly saw the way I was brought up as more harmful than good. Mo’s character hits a lot of the high and low points about being in the church, an also as being a “goody-goody” another label I got called throughout school because I didn’t do things other girls did. I think any young adult readers are going to love Mo, the secondary characters like Sasha and Reggie, as well as the ultimate message, know your body and it’s okay to say no if you don’t want to have sex. I do want to say upfront this is told in the first person point of view, I know some readers hate that style, but it never bothers me. Just wanted to mention it.
“Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl” follows 17 year old Monique. Monique and her family live in Texas. Her father is the pastor of their church, and her mother has Black church lady down pat. Monique wants to do what she can to make her parents proud of her, but she’s worried because her boyfriend of two years, Dom, wants to have sex. They have tried 29 times (yes this gets repeated) and had to stop because Monique was in so much pain and didn’t want to continue. After the last time though, Dom gets fed up and breaks up with Monique. Monique is determined to win him back and through the help of two people she never thought of as friends (Reggie and Sasha) she goes about trying to “cure” her issue.
There’s so many layers to Monique, you find out right away why she is so devastated by Dom breaking up with her. He’s been all she’s had since her older sister left home. And Monique thinks if she can just have sex with him, everything will get better. But her listening to Sasha and Reggie as well as reading things, leads her down a path to discover her own body and to listen to her own wants and needs.
I honestly was ready to hate both of Monique’s parents, I feel some kind of way about parents telling their kids sex is dirty and wrong and it somehow means you are less than what you are if you have sex before marriage. But the story delves deeper into both of her parents, and you gain another perspective. Still a messed up one, but one nonetheless. I loved another reader calling this book a showcase of religious trauma, and honestly with so much of the legislation getting passed on a daily basis in this country, I can see how that reader would feel this way. Telling teens if they have sex before marriage and or if they are gay, or trans, etc. that means they are somehow wrong/dirty/less than is so messed up and very frustrating when you see the fallout from being brought up and talked about in this manner. Can you imagine being a 12 year old and hearing from the pulpit every Sunday how if you have sex before marriage it means you have less value in the eyes of God? Can you imagine being told if you are gay that means you are going to hell?
I loved the writing an thought that Goffney really captures the Black Baptist church in all it’s glory, warts and all. And she manages to still make certain thing funny. I laughed long and hard at the Target scene. The dialogue concerning Insecure and who should Issa pick had me cackling. FYI, I am still not happy about her choice.
The flow was excellent from beginning to end and thought the arc of Monique, her parents, her friends, were well done. I liked the place everyone got to in the end and I loved what Monique chose in the end.