". . .The Virgins
is both skillfully crafted and dangerous . . .Pamela Erens [has] told a devastating story. The Virgins
is a brutal book, but it's flawlessly executed and irrefutably true.
—John Irving, New York Times Book Review
"Adroitly capturing the anguish of adolescent desire, Erens's latest is a lesson in love, loss, and tragedy.
"Erens writes with great believability and sensitivity about the teenage years, when school and family pressures, along with sexual awakening, can seem like life-and-death issues. Whether she's describing a visit to an ice cream stand or Seung and Aviva's explorations of lovemaking, her prose is sensual and lyrical
. . .Many readers will want to investigate this work."
"This newest addition to the 'boarding school novels we love' category mixes the unsettling drama of A Separate Peace
with the sexual juiciness of Prep
. . .The dark twist of an ending will haunt you for days
"Perhaps it is going too far to say that The Virgins
is primarily about the fundamental flaws of white, male narrators in fiction. It is also about sex, fear—especially of authority—class, desire, shame and jealousy. But in reveling in the power of narrative
, the book asks the reader to think about who is—and who has been—allowed to wield it."
—The New York Observer
"With The Virgins
, Pamela Erens' intricate second novel, she has done a star turn
with the prep school tale, giving it meaning for those who might not usually care about that world."
—The Chicago Tribune
, Editor's Choice
"It's rare to find a book that summons the delicate emotional state of teenagers — especially when it comes to sex — without being precious or cynical, but Pamela Erens' The Virgins
beautifully manages that feat."
— Los Angeles Times
"In her second novel, The Virgins
, Pamela Erens paints an arresting portrait of adolescent sexuality
— at once beautiful, erotic, awkward, and shameful. With its racial tensions, vile narrator, and tragic climax, The Virgins
reads like a prep school Othello, set to a soundtrack of Devo and Jethro Tull."
—Leigh Stein, Los Angeles Review of Books
"With a lyrical voice, Pamela Erens has written a novel about first love and sexual awakening that is multilayers and perceptive...[The Virgins
] is thickly layered with prose that intrigues the mind and captivates the senses.
"The metaphysics of The Virgins
[is] that the potential eroticism in all things makes them all secretly significant."
"Erens brilliantly captures
that time when someone is determined to give up virginity and how all-consuming sex becomes. She writes about the mystique, the slow building and the machinations Seung and Aviva experience."
—New Jersey Star Ledger
does qualify as a new classic and students of the form will read it again and again.
—Gently Read Literature
"Virginity is treated with. . .grace and subtlety
in Pamela Erens’s latest novel, The Virgins
(Tin House Books), a beautifully written story about two outcasts who form an all-consuming bond at an exclusive boarding school, as told, in secretive, sweaty detail, by a rather odious classmate."
—Vulture.com"With a cover like this, who could resist a peek?
What lay inside was even more riveting than the titillating, slightly disturbing, Lolita-esque photo that first encouraged me to have a go. A prep-school saga about sex, rumors, young love, and adult regret,The Virgins encouraged its readers to feel as frenzied, and libidinous, and strung out as a 17-year-old in the throes of first lust. This small, smart masterpiece is a beautiful shot of adrenaline—with a terrifying come down."
—Hillary Kelly, The New Republic
"This is some of the strongest literary fiction I've read in a while
—The Tattered Cover
reminded me how gratifying it is to fall into a good novel—one that feeds the sense and makes us think."
—The Common Online
"As an editor, I can say this is one of the most finely crafted books I’ve read
. The fresh approach of a narrator who is imagining our scenes adds a compelling filter who still feels trustworthy. . .Erens handling of the characters sexuality and the grace with which she handles the sex scenes—with teenagers—deserves a separate round of applause. . .As a reader, I was simply moved."
— The Painted Bride Quarterly
, Drexel University
"Now that James Salter is in his twilight years, his considerable fan base will be ecstatic to encounter his heiress apparent, Pamela Erens, whose erotically charged prose reaches for naming the ineffable, honoring the elusive, and celebrating the bodily majesty of life. An extraordinary novel
—Antonya Nelson, author of Bound
"A sensual and haunting story of sexual awakening, Pamela Erens’s exquisitely written The Virgins
vividly captures the thrill of youthful innocence and the crushing pain of its loss. This is a profound—and profoundly moving—novel. I couldn't put it down, and I didn't want it to end
—Will Allison, author of Long Drive Home
"Suspenseful and swift and well made
, The Virgins
, Pamela Erens's exciting new fiction, ratchets up the heat on the boarding school novel with ferociously sensual descriptions of frustrated love—love imagined and love experienced. Easy to fall for this book and fall hard
—Christine Schutt, author of Prosperous Friends
“Like the unforgettable Aviva Rossner, The Virgins
is small but not slight—intense, sublime, vivid, uncanny, irresistible. It joins the ranks of the great boarding school novels
while somehow evoking the twisted, obsessive narrations of Nabokov’s Pale Fire
or Wharton’s Ethan Frome
. Pamela Erens is that rare writer who can articulate—and gorgeously—the secrets we never knew about ourselves."
—Rebecca Makkai, author of The Borrower
is a stunningly beautiful novel. It is precisely observed, skillfully constructed, and brilliantly written
. This is possibly the best novel of the many good ones set in a New England prep school, that terrain of elegance and envy, of flowering and blight.”
—John Casey, National Book Award-winning author of Spartina