Cover image for Doing it
Doing it
Burgess, Melvin.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt, 2004.

Physical Description:
326 pages ; 22 cm
Three teenage friends, Dino, Jonathon, and Ben, confront the confusions, fears, and joys of adolescent male sexuality.
Reading Level:
670 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.4 12.0 79093.

Reading Counts RC High School 9.3 19 Quiz: 36469 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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I mean-I like girls. I get on well with them. And I like sex. Not that I've had all that much experience of it-not with another person being in the room at the same time, anyway. I just can't somehow put the two together. I can be getting on really well with a girl but as soon as I get an inkling that there might be a chance of anything happening, I just freeze up. It's scary.

Everything you never wanted to know about sex and boys-but probably should

Dino, Jonathan, and Ben have got some problems, mostly with Jackie, Deborah, and Alison.
Dino's girlfriend Jackie, the most beautiful girl in school, drives him mad with lust, but won't go all the way and relieve Dino of his desperately unwanted virginity.

Jonathan likes Deborah. She's smart and funny and she makes him feel very sexy, but she's kind of plump and his mates won't let him hear the end of it.

Ben's been seduced by Alison, the pretty young drama teacher at school. And what seems like a dream come true is actually making him miserable.

Award-winning author Melvin Burgess has written a daringly honest and often hilarious account of contemporary teenage life, and the ups and downs that surround "doing it."

Author Notes

Melvin Burgess is the author of many novels for young adult and middle-grade readers. Among them are Nicholas Dane , The Ghost Behind the Wall (Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year) and Smack (winner of Britain's Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Prize for Fiction, as well as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults). In 2001, he wrote the novelization of the film, Billy Elliot . Mr. Burgess lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, in England.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Gr. 10 and up. Burgess' third novel follows three best mates as they shag, attempt to shag, try to get out of shagging, masturbate while contemplating shagging, and then shag some more. Ben is sleeping with his obsessive drama teacher; Jon finds himself irresistibly attracted to Deborah, who would be perfect if her pudginess didn't make him subject to ridicule; and Dino, as handsome as he is horny, just wants to shag the gorgeous Jackie--or, failing that, anyone else. From snogging to shagging to buggering, Doing It 0 discusses it 0 in a dizzying array of contexts, and it is relentlessly and refreshingly honest: this is certainly the first YA novel to feature two0 boys who lose their erections while trying to lose their virginity. Scenes like that make Doing It0 less erotic than comforting: boys will be pleased to learn they are not alone in their sexual anxieties; and girls will learn that boys want sex, but are also confused and fearful about it. But while the content will raise eyebrows, it's the writing that's problematic. Though periodically very funny and excellently plotted, the alternating-voices narration falls flat because the characters sound nearly identical, and the writing is surprisingly undescriptive, a disappointing departure from Burgess' previous novels ( Smack 0 and Lady0 , e.g.). Still, there's a lot to like here, and to say that Doing It0 will generate interest among readers would be to understate the matter dramatically. --John Green Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Fun, peppy and unusually frank (but ultimately sweet-natured), British author Burgess's (Smack; My Life as a Bitch) novel starts out with an attention-grabbing scene in which the central characters enjoy a hypothetical discussion about having sex with an array of women that includes a bag lady, classmates, teachers and even the Queen. Once the author establishes the central theme without a shade of a doubt, he briskly outlines each boy's circumstances. Gorgeous charmer Dino is about to plunge into an on-and-off-again romance with top girl Jackie; diffident Jonathon must sort out his feelings about plump (but secretly luscious) Deborah, who clearly fancies him; and Ben gradually realizes he must extricate himself from a relationship with his unstable 20-something teacher. Even the most attention-deficient reader will likely be captivated by the adrenaline-pumped narration told from the points of view of the three boys and assorted other characters (including various girls and even a parent) and skitters between the first and third person. The abundant use of British slang-especially for matters sexual-gives the story an exotic, slightly Austin Powers-like charm and, for an American audience at least, somewhat defuses the explicit nature of the material: it's hard to get worked up about a word like "minge" if you haven't grown up with it. Fans of Louise Rennison's Angus, Thongs books will appreciate the male perspective offered here, while readers of both sexes whose hormones have just begun to simmer will welcome (and even be reassured by) a book that so accurately mirrors their new world view. Ages 16-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

British guy pals Dino, Ben, and Jonathon think and talk about It-a lot. Each has his own romantic problems. Dino is wrapped around the finger of queen bee Jackie, who won't do the deed. Ben wants out of a secret relationship with his hot but less-than-stable teacher. Jonathon has extended conversations with his member, "Mr. Knobby Knobster," and longs to shag Deborah, a plumpish classmate. Will his friends understand? Adult readers will either recognize themselves in Dino, Ben, and Jonathon or cringe at the thoughts that go through their heads. It pretty much divides on gender lines. For fans of Superbad (starring Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, 2007). Why It Is for Us: This bro-mance starts raunchy and only grows more hilarious. The reader who can make it through the opening scene-a game of "Who would you do?" as in "Who would you do, the homeless lady down the street or.?"-can stomach its frank treatment of adolescent male sexuality. [The hardcover was published in 2004.] (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 10 Up-Three teenaged boys enjoy talking about, thinking about, and joking about sex. Dino finally establishes a relationship with Jackie, the prettiest girl in school, who will allow all sorts of sexual liberties, but draws the line at intercourse. He finds another girl whom he mistakenly thinks he can use for sex while keeping his relationship with Jackie viable. In the meantime, he witnesses his mother passionately involved with a man who is not his father, and must deal with the results of his own treacherous behavior as he watches his parents' marriage fall apart. Ben finds himself steeped in a dilemma of a different sort. His 20-something drama teacher chooses him to be her secret sexual playmate, which he first enjoys but then desperately tries to escape. Jonathon's predicament involves his budding romance with Deborah, an overweight girl whom everyone likes as a friend, but not a girlfriend. He has to decide whether to follow his heart, despite taunting from his peers. Burgess's novel, which retains its original British terminology and sexual slang, is crude, irreverent, and explicit, yet honest and frequently funny. At first, the sexual elements are uncomfortably overwhelming, but Burgess gradually twists the story so that the characters' personal situations become prominent, with casual sex secondary. The seemingly callous male characters become more sympathetic as their personalities, feelings, and problems are unveiled. The female characters are not afforded the same sensitivity. Readers may be drawn in by the intense sexual tone, and find a well-developed story that will spark reflection on the meaning and strength of peer and romantic relationships.-Diane P. Tuccillo, City of Mesa Library, AZ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Doing It 1 EITHER OR "OK," said Jonathon. "The choice is this. You either have to shag Jenny Gibson--or else that homeless woman who begs spare change outside Cramner's bakers." Dino and Ben recoiled in disgust. Jenny was known as the ugliest girl in the school but the beggar woman was filthy. Her teeth! "You are so gross," said Ben disgustedly. Jonathon acknowledged the compliment smugly and nodded. He was the King of this. "At least they're both female," said Dino. "I'd take the homeless," said Ben, after a moment's thought. "She wouldn't be so bad once you'd cleaned her up." Jonathon shook his head. "You have to take her as is." "Agh! You're the one who thinks of this stuff," Dino pointed out. But that was the delicious horror of it. You had to make a decision. You had to consider it yourself. Ben squirmed as he tried to focus his mind on the actuality. It was beyond a matter of taste. Disease came into it. "Can I shag her from behind?" "No, from the front. With the lights on. Snogging and everything. And you have to do oral sex on her, too." "Jonathon!" hissed Dino. "You never said anything about oral sex," said Ben. "Oral sex until she comes." Ben winced as his mind shrank back like a slug on salt. "You are disgusting. Well, if I could have her cleaned up, I'd do the tramp, but if she has to be filthy, I'd do Jenny. But ... if you had to leave Jenny out on the street for a few months until she was as dirty as the tramp, I'd do the tramp. What about you?" "I'd take Jenny," said Jonathon promptly. "That's just because it's the only way you could get a shag." "She's ugly, but I bet her body isn't too bad. It'd be all right once you got going. And the tramp would have rotten teeth and smelly breath, bits of old kebab rotting in her teeth. Cold sores, probably. Ulcers, that sort of thing." "Yuk." "OK, Ben," said Dino. "What about ... Jenny or Mrs. Woods." They hissed with laughter. It was a clever one. Mrs. Woods was at least sixty, obviously hated anyone under the age of twenty and her breath smelt of tinned cabbage--but at some time in the distant past, she might well have been a bit of a looker. Ben paused. "Are they both clean?" "More or less." "Mrs. Woods," said Ben boldly. "Mrs. Woods?" said Dino, acting appalled. "I mean, Jenny is ugly, but Mrs. Woods is old. " "Old is better than ugly," said Ben definitively. The othertwo looked at him curiously. That was Ben; he always knew exactly what he wanted. "You're really quite weird, aren't you?" said Jonathon. "Nothing is worse than old. What about personality? Jenny's quite a nice sort of a person, but Mrs. Woods is a monster." "Yeah, but she wouldn't be a monster if I was shagging her, would she? She'd be ..." "Friendly?" suggested Jon. "Yeah." "So old is better than ugly and personality doesn't come into it?" asked Jonathan. "We're talking shags here, not marriage. No one mentioned having to talk to them," pointed out Ben. The boys laughed. "I'd do Jenny," said Dino. "And me," said Jon. Ben shrugged and smiled. "Ah, but at least I got to shag a teacher," he teased. "And she'd be experienced." "A woman as horrible as her would probably be prepared to do anything," Jonathon agreed. "Let's not go there. OK," said Ben. "My turn. Mrs. Woods or ... Mrs. Thatcher." Dino sighed. He hated this. It was, in his opinion, one of the few things he wasn't any good at. "OK," he said. "Mrs. Thatcher. She's uglier and older ..." "And she's had a bit of a stroke," pointed out Jon. " ... but you'd have to see Mrs. Woods at school every day, whereas with Thatcher, you'd never have to see her ever again. Definitely Thatcher." "Coffin snatcher." Dino grinned sheepishly. "I'd do Mrs. Woods. Thatcher's practically dead," pointed out Jon. "I know one," said Dino happily. "The Queen ... or Deborah Sanderson?" "Not Deborah again!" protested Jonathon. The Queen was hideous, no one in their right mind would sleep with her even if they were eighty years old and called the Duke of Edinburgh, whereas Deborah's only crime was that she was a bit on the plump side. She and Jon were good friends. The theory was that Jonathon fancied her to bits and was too embarrassed to admit it. "You have to answer," insisted Ben. "Deborah, then." "Ah-ha!" "But only because anything's better than the Queen." "Bollocks," said Ben. "It's because you fancy her. The Queen is obviously far more attractive. I'd rather sleep with the Queen, any day. What about you, Dino?" "The Queen, definitely." "You lying bastards! You're only saying that to wind me up!" "No way. I mean, Deborah! Fat!" "Plump!" hissed Jonathon. "Still, you know what they say. Fat Girls Are Grateful For It," said Ben. "Yeah," said Dino. "She's probably the only woman living who'd be prepared to sink to your level. I knew you fancied her all the time." "Right." Jonathon pointed a finger at Dino. He had one that would see them off all right. He'd been saving it up. "Either you can sleep with any woman--OK? Any woman, at any time. They can't say no. No matter how beautiful and gorgeous, all you have to do is ask. At your disposal. And they have to do whatever you want them to. Anything. But. You ALSO have to be buggered. Once a year for twenty minutes. On the radio." "On the radio? Why not on telly?" demanded Ben. "Because on the radio you'd try and keep really quiet so that no one would know it was you, but you wouldn't be able to. Little noises would escape. Oh. Oh. Oo. Ow. You know. Mmm. Ah. Mmm. Woo. Ah. Na-ha. And if you don't, then you get no sex ever. Never. No one. For life." Dino tried to think about it, but he couldn't. No sex was impossible. So was being buggered. "I'm not answering that." "You have to." "No way. I'm out. Anyway, you asked it, you have to answer it." "Easy. I'd take the endless women and the buggery. It'd be worth it." "Me too," said Ben. "Think of the rewards! Anyone. S Club 7. Kylie. Jackie Atkins ... ?" "Poofs," said Dino weakly, but he'd already lost. "OK, you," Jonathon said, pointing his finger at Ben. But Ben spread his hands and smiled. "No thanks. You win. Again." "You can't just back out!" "Yes I can. I know what you're going to say. The same as last time. My dad or my mum. I'm not doing either of them." "Ugh! No! That's not fair. No family," insisted Dino. "That's the rules. You're allowed to say anything," said Jon. "So I win again. Wimps." "I won really," said Dino, "because both of you took it up the arse." "You might like it," said Ben. "You never know till you try." "Twice the chance of scoring on a Saturday night," said Jon. "I'd rather not." "It probably means you're a suppressed homosexual; they're always the ones that hate it the most." Dino pulled a face. "I might as well be." "Still no punnani," said Ben sympathetically. "You should get a girlfriend. Punnani is usually found in the same vicinity. Unless you get one of those plastic ones," Jonathon pointed out. "Shut up," said Dino; and Jonathon did. "Give it up, Dino," advised Ben. "She isn't interested." "I'm not thinking of her," insisted Dino. "There just isn't anyone else I fancy at the moment." "What a stupid waste," said Jonathon. "Half the girls in the school are wetting themselves for him, and there he is, mission impossible, Jackie Atkins or nothing. Only the most gorgeous will do for our Deen." Dino shuffled his feet and smiled. "You'll probably get it before I do," he said. He left Jonathon smiling fondly at this thought and headed off home. As he left the cloakroom, Dino paused to look at himself in the mirror. He liked what he saw. Jackie was the most gorgeous creature in the school--with one possible exception; himself. Dino was It. He had dark hair speckled with honey blond, even features with just a hint of rough, a wide mouth, full lips and deep golden-brown eyes. Girls fell into them and disappeared without ever being seen again. But Jackie was more than gorgeous; she was sensible. She already had a boyfriend years older than her and she thought that Dino was a prat. Dino knew better. As the two officially most gorgeous people in the school, he and she belonged together. He deserved her. His crush on her had gone on for so long he never said anything anymore, but he didn't believe she didn't want him, he never had. It was just a question of how long he was prepared to wait. DOING IT. Copyright (c) 2003 by Melvin Burgess. Excerpted from Doing It by Melvin Burgess All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.