28 & Beyond: The Making of Dr. Truelove


I dislike controversy.

I’m drawn to controversy.

In between my two realities lies the author of young adult fiction. While the conscious side of me never wants to piss off the literary influencers by writing something they’d deem censor-worthy, when I’m writing (my unconscious side) I’m not thinking about anyone except the characters at hand. 

That means I very well may piss off some people or at the very least make some unhappy with my books’ content.  The “author” in me may worry about that after the fact, but the writer in me never does nor is the writer willing to change a word simply to appease potential critics.

I bet Derrick Barnes was the same way when he wrote The Making of Dr. Truelove, the tale of Diego, a smitten, “premature ejaculator,” on a quest to win his crush’s heart. 

If you’re still absorbing the words premature ejaculator, gazing upwards at The Brown Bookshelf’s wonderfully colorful banner depicting two children reading and wondering how those words dare grace our pages, you’re probably not alone.  As I mentioned in my 28 & Beyond feature of It Girls, some people simply aren’t comfortable with the frank tone of young adult fiction.

Perhaps because YA is a sub-genre of children’s literature…and maybe it shouldn’t be.  But that’s a post for another day.

YA which graphically depicts making-out is not for everyone and certainly not for the tween set. School Library Journal sets the appropriate reading age for The Making of Dr. Truelove as tenth grade and up. With that in mind, any discussion of the honest sexual talk within the book becomes a non-issue, in my opinion.

The Making of Dr. Truelove is a funny story about one guy’s mission to win back his crush’s affection from the resident jock. The fact that he attempts to do so by creating an alter ego, Dr. Truelove, who dispenses advice to the lovelorn is not only endearing but ballsy, pardon the pun.

Society dictates that there are inherently girl behaviors and inherently boy behaviors. What we’re supposed to do when those behaviors cross genders is a gray area for someone smarter than me to debate. All I know is, when fiction tackles the story of a guy chasing a girl, dedicated more to winning her affection than bedding her, I love it.

Us ladies aren’t the only ones struck by Cupid’s arrow and prone to getting ourselves into trouble in our attempts to get our guy’s attention. In Dr. Truelove, the romance shoe is on the other foot and Diego – with the help of his confident pal, J-Love, is a well-meaning but bumbling teen boy with his heart on his sleeve for Roxy.

Derrick Barnes depicts a side of teen males that’s often glossed over in fiction. We’re hard wired to believe that guys only want to read about blood, guts and sci-fi or that hooking up without committment is their primary goal.

True enough the characters in Dr. Truelove are all about the hook up, but it’s Roxy’s heart that Diego is after and Barnes’ debut is a tickling peek into the mind of a sincere but slightly overzealous horn dog.

If you’re still unable to recomend this book because the entire premise revolves around teen sex, just say to yourself “YA reflects teen life,” ten times slow, take a deep breath then gift the book to your nearest teen reader. Who knows, they may actually think you’re the coolest auntie, uncle, mom, dad or librarian they know.

The Buzz on The Making of Dr. Truelove

An ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Readers

“The youthful high school humor keeps it from veering too far into Zane territory, and romance and urban-fiction fans will no doubt love the saucy comebacks, sexy language, and sheer ridiculousness that befalls Diego and J on their Cyrano-like journey to love.”— School Library Journal

“Barnes holds nothing back here, so in case the previous summary isn’t enough, beware of some racy content. However, if you’re comfortable with that, you will love this book! ” – Teens Read Too

7 thoughts on “28 & Beyond: The Making of Dr. Truelove

  1. Thank you so much for this very honest, right-on-point review. This is by far the closest POV to mine that I’ve read so far.

    One of the main things I wanted to do was create a character that was a polar opposite to everything that we see in popular culture that describes young black men; very one dimensional images of us as savages, dope dealing, dunking, fast running spear chucking minstrel players. Diego is an intellectual, very mature, and a real romantic at heart. And despite everything around him, especially J, that says what he should be doing, he follows his heart and fights for the girl of his dreams.

    Again, I say thank you. Check out my site and the rest of my little catalog of books.
    Keep doing what you guys do. I love it.

    peace and blessings

    Derrick Barnes

  2. Derrick, thanks for stopping through and for adding another positive reflection of the African American teen experience into the mix.

  3. Derrick,

    Wow! Thanks for stopping by and checking us out. Paula’s review has peaked my interest in reading your book. I visited your site and liked the information about your other books for younger readers.

  4. As a teen librarian I enjoy reading your site. I love The Making of Dr. Truelove. It’s an easy sell to the teens in my library. Sometimes all I do is show them the cover and they want to read it.

    Thank you Derrick for your insight!

    Keep up the wonderful work!

  5. I’m facing a book challenge related to Dr. Truelove in my urban charter school library. Not only does the administrator want the book removed, I may face censure for selecting it in the first place. Our library is a combination middle school/high school library, but I don’t allow middle school students to check out the book, and the student whose parents complained is in high school.

    May I quote this entry in my defense?



  6. Absolutely Erin. Quote away.

    The fact that you’re only allowing the high schoolers to check out the book solves any issue, in my eyes. It’s meant for older teens and you’ve put the measurement in place to ensure that guideline is followed.

    But I believe reminding folks that “Ya reflects teen life” not dictate it, is a pretty good defense. There will always be those who are staunchly against sex, drugs and other “taboo” topics in YA fiction – but no matter what books remain a safe place to explore taboo. Where else are you allowed to “see” the introspection of the character’s as they make decisions vs. only seeing the decision acted out.

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