Not since Anne Schraff’s “Someone to Love Me” has teen dating violence been discussed as candidly as it has in “Teenage Love Affair” by Ni-Ni Simone. The story opens with a letter to the readers from the main character Zsa-Zsa, a Newark, New Jersey teen. She explains to the reader in her own words that 'love is good, easy and free but the most important love is for you'. Words spoken from a teen that has seemingly has everything: a closet full of designer clothing, envy of her classmates, her own vehicle and a fine boyfriend Ameen who has a serious swagger that is pure ‘fiyah.’
New characters, ‘Asha the Diva’ and the ‘Tiny and Toi’ reality show TV lovin’ Courtney round up Zsa-Zsa’s ride-or-die friends. Family members Toi, Seven, a Cousin Shake and his new bride Ms Minnie and provide comic relief to this otherwise sensitive teenage story. This book would be a good choice for a book club because there is a discussion guide at the end of the story that encourages teens to discuss teen love, dating and relationships. The chapters that describe the sexual relations between Zsa-Zsa and Ameen and the sexual tension between Zsa-Zsa and Malachi are not graphic in description but would be more suited for high school library YA collection.
All of Ni-Ni Simone’s books currently appear on the 2010 Quick Pick List for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. I like Simone’s books because they are hip, tackle issues that affect young teens today and have crossover appeal to adult readers. Her latest book, “Teenage Love Affair” is sure to be a hit with teens and I’m sure many more will follow.