Study Guide

Perfect Sexuality and Sexual Identity

By Ellen Hopkins

Sexuality and Sexual Identity

She scoots/sideways, her knee touches mine./And for some crazy reason, I want/her to kiss me. Wait. What? (9.41)

This is what people are talking about when they refer to attraction as chemistry or electricity. Attraction often feels like being unexpectedly struck by lightning.

Did kissing/Sean ever make me feel that way?/I don't think so. Don't think/kissing any boy ever made me feel/that way… (17.43-44)

Cara doesn't have words yet for "that way," but she's experiencing lust for the first time.

His mouth/covers mine. I should wilt. Instead,/I feel stiff as cardboard. (21.40-41)

Cara doesn't talk about joining together with Sean, feeling their bodies as one, or any of the things making out should be—instead, she talks about him "covering" her. Being with him feels like annihilation, not mutual desire.

I loathe labels,/especially those I can't free myself/of. So how do I hang out a "lesbian"/shingle? (25.16)

There's a difference between accepting other people's labels and claiming your own. Still, there's no need to give yourself a name until you're sure it fits.

I've never/seen so many same-sex couples before./Not all in one place, laughing, downing/drinks, making out in plain view. (29.40-41)

Since pride is, at least on one level, the ability to be yourself in public, Cara's first same-sex party is its own kind of gay pride celebration.

Gay. Lesbian. Words. That did not/ apply to me until recently. Or did/they? Do you have to admit you're/a lesbian before you are one? (33.13)

Answer: No. You are what you are, no matter what you call yourself. Deep inside, you know, and you'll put words to the knowledge when you're ready.

Hard enough coming to terms/with the label "lesbian," without/somehow having to prove that you/are "lesbian enough." (33.23-24)

Dani's friends might be comfortable in their sexuality, but they still have their own standards of appearance. Even around them, there's still pressure to be a certain kind of perfect.

I mean, most/people at school are fairly tolerant/toward the GLBTQ crowd. But you/don't vote for them for class presidents/or homecoming princesses. (42.13-15)

This is another way societal expectations come into play. What would your friends think if you didn't vote like they did?

So that's the dancer? What do/you see in him?/Aren't all guy dancers, like, gay? (44.62)

Jenna's friends might be ignorant, but at least she's not afraid to tell them her boyfriend's a dancer. She genuinely doesn't seem to care what other people think of her. Even though she's got some serious problems, this is one way she's more self-assured than the other characters in the book.

"I know this is not on your/Top Ten Qualities In A Daughter list./But I am a lesbian." (45.21)

Yay, Cara. The scene in which she comes out to her parents is one of the few bright moments in an otherwise bleak book. This is where Hopkins tells her readers that pressure doesn't have to crush you.