Welcome to the teenage boy’s mind. Three friends, Dino, Jonathan and Ben, their relationships with each other, girls, and their conceptions about sex are the centerpiece for Melvin Burgess’ novel Doing It. Dino is the ‘playboy’. The most popular, good-looking boy at school, and he knows it. The only girl he sees as being good enough for him is Jackie, the most popular and pretty girl at school, but she wont sleep with him, even though he tries very hard to convince her she should. Jonathan begins a ‘friends-with-benefits’ type relationship with Deborah, a girl that he’s not comfortable starting a real relationship with because he thinks people will make fun of him, considering Deborah is on the chubby side. Ben to the outside world seems to be the one the least interested in a relationship or sex, but his friends don’t know that he has been in an relationship with their teacher, ‘Miss’ for an extended period of time.
The boy’s stories can be funny, sad, endearing, and annoying. Readers will feel like they have known a Dino, Jonathan, and a Ben. Whether having known these characters is a good thing or a bad thing is up to them. The boys opinions, thoughts and experiences, and infrequently added narration by the girls, can shed some light on questions that readers have, or illustrate experiences that readers can relate too. At times the situations that the teens find themselves in may not reflect a typical teenage experience, but these parts of the story add a certain amount of entertainment value to the story. The sexual content is not extremely explicit, though it could be too much for some readers depending on their maturity level. Even though the content is not explicit there are definite descriptions and allusion to many types of situations. Readers of this title should be mature enough to handle frank discussions of sex, sexual abuse, drug abuse, excessive drinking, extramarital affairs, and suicide.
The near complete lack of adults in the novel emphasizes that this story is for teenagers about teenagers. Information about sex, or knowledge of drugs and alcohol are at times off base, teenage immaturity is very evident, and they make mistakes. But because the teens are not perfect, and they are not all knowing, the story becomes much more real and relatable for teen readers.