Recap: It’s a premise we’ve seen before. Part 40-Year-Old Virgin, part American Pie, Losing It tells the story of a 26-year-old girl, Julia, who is yet to lose her virginity. Still a little lost in life and determined to have sex, she quits her job and moves to North Carolina for a summer to stay with her Aunt Viv, who she barely knows and of whom she only has vague childhood memories.
Not so much focused on connecting with her aunt, Julia instead gets a part-time job, joins several dating sites and attends a regular art class all in the hopes of not finding her one true love, but finding a one-time lover. First, there’s Elliot in her office, but he’s married. Then there’s the crazy — and rude! — guy from the dating app. Then the one she meets at a funeral. Each relationship starts off promising, but turns sour. Quickly.
In the midst of all this, she learns that her Aunt Viv is also a virgin. Finally! Something about which she and her aunt can connect! But as time goes on, she loses the nerve to share with her Aunt Viv that she, too, is a virgin. It seems the more Julia tries to connect with people, the less she’s able to, and by the end of the summer, things rapidly spin out of control.
Analysis: The premise is great. Everyone loves a good losing-their-virginity story. They’re funny and charming. That would be the case in Losing It except Julia is a deeply unlikable character. She’s awkward in a hypocritical way. For instance, she’s willing to put herself out there and get a job and sign up for random community classes, and she has no problem flirting with strange men; and yet when her Aunt Viv talks to her about her artwork, all Julia can muster is “Oh. Okay.”
Aside from being a poor conversationalist with Aunt Viv, she’s misses events with her, doesn’t come home for dinner, attempts to sleep with someone at her friend’s funeral and snoops around her bedroom. She’s completely ungrateful to a kind woman who’s put her up for free all summer.
Julia is so completely self-involved, she can’t see past her own virginity. The way it consumes her every waking thought does not come across as funny; it comes across as desperate and sad. I appreciated the effort the book made in its attempts at wry humor but frankly, they just didn’t work.
MVP: Aunt Viv. She’s easily the most generous person in the book and gets the least credit for all that she does. I do wish we learned more about her and her background, but with the book coming from the point-of-view of Julia, there was little chance of that happening.