Pen Lupo is sick and tired of hiding who she is. On the outside, Pen is popular, quiet, and deferential to her boyfriend. On the inside, however, Pen is honest, opinionated--and not quite sure that she's like other girls. Do they have urges like she does?
His classmates may consider him a nerd, but Benedict Pendleton knows he's destined for great things. All he has to do is find a worthy girlfriend, and his social station will be secured. Sure, Benedict is different--but that's what he likes about himself.
When fate intervenes, both Pen and Benedict end up at the same vacation resort for winter break. Despite their differences, the two are drawn together. But is there such a thing as happily ever after for a nympho and a nerd? ~ Goodreads
Source: ARC provided by the publisher via ALA16 in exchange for an honest review
The Nerdy and the Dirty is a quirky little story about two teens that seem improbable together.
Benedict Maximus Pendleton is objectively handsome and the smartest person in any room (except when his dad is in the room – because then he’s THE smartest) and Benedict knows it. And let’s anyone in the vicinity know it. He’s not an asshole, on purpose, although he is, he’s just straightforward and logical. Think Sheldon from Big Bang Theory. He’s waited until he was 17 to date – because his famous father, who writes self-help books, said to. But no girls seem to be interested in Benedict now that he’s ready to go. His best (and only) friend Robert finally lays it out to him – “We will never have girlfriends. We are losers. We are the biggest nerds in school!”
Benedict Maximus Pendleton refuses to believe this. Because he is the smartest person in the room. And objectively handsome.
Pen has the perfect catholic boyfriend and is popular at school because of him but she feels trapped. She thinks of sex a lot. She has sex with Paul but then the catholic guilt sets in afterwards. Pen is always holding a part of herself back, afraid to lose her boyfriend and friends, knowing people will label her a freak if they knew how often she thought of sex and masturbated.
Then, through a series of circumstances, Pen and Benedict end up vacationing with their respective families at the same place and start up an awkward friendship. Benedict doesn’t know how to talk to girls (or anyone really) but Pen finds his brutal honesty and self acceptance refreshing. She helps Benedict realize his personality isn’t something he should change but embrace. And Benedict’s logical side gives Pen someone she can be completely honest and open with without judgement. Even her sexual side.
They fall hard for each other until they are caught in the warming hut in a compromising position. Benedict’s father and Pen’s mother both freak out, calling Pen a whore and whisking them away.
Pen and Benedict have VERY screwed up parents that make them feel ashamed and inferior and on the cusp of being discarded if they do anything wrong. It leaves both of them pretty messed up.
I’ve seen a lot of reviews that mention the amount of sex in this book. I guess yes, it’s more graphic than most YA. It describes masturbating and oral sex, but I thought it was done in a very healthy, consensual way. Especially when it came to Pen. Not for shock value and it didn’t seem excessive to me. They’re horny teens – so yeah, it made sense to me. But might be too much for some readers.
As much as I enjoyed Pen and Benedict, I have a few quibbles with this book. It had a great build up but then felt rushed - they're madly in love and everything wrapped up neatly, leaving several important threads unexplored.
Benedict’s best friend Robert was in love with Pen so that’s something that should have raised more conflict. And Pen learns something pretty important about her mom that’s just glossed over.
There’s also some language that’s going to bother people like the use of the r word and fat shaming. I don’t have a problem with that if it’s said by people where you know it’s wrong and those people are jerks but when it’s said by the protagonist's ehhh. Not cool. They both realize they’re wrong later but…fair warning.
And Benedict is really hard to stomach at first but he has to learn how to communicate and he does. Give him a chance - he's really the sweetest!
The author did a neat little thing where he tagged the alternating Pen/Benedict chapters and changed Benedict’s name – becoming less pretentious as he evolved.