* A New York Times Editor’s Choice selection
* A Chicago Tribune Editor’s Choice selection
* A Best Book of 2013, The New Yorker
* A Best Book of 2013, The New Republic
* A Critics’ Choice selection for 2013, Salon
* A Best Indie Title of 2013, Library Journal
* One of Redbook’s “Top Ten Beach Reads of 2013”
* One of O Magazine’s “Ten Titles to Pick Up Now,” August 2013
* Featured in The Millions’s “Most-Anticipated” List 2013
* A “This Week’s Hot Reads” selection, The Daily Beast
* A Vanity Fair Hot Type selection
* The Virgins was a finalist for the John Gardner Award
* Publishers Weekly named The Virgins one of the best boarding school books of all time
It’s 1979, and Aviva Rossner and Seung Jung are notorious at Auburn Academy. They’re an unlikely pair at an elite East Coast boarding school (she’s Jewish; he’s Korean American) and hardly shy when it comes to their sexuality. Aviva is a formerly bookish girl looking for liberation from an unhappy childhood; Seung is an enthusiastic dabbler in drugs and a covert rebel against his demanding immigrant parents. In the minds of their titillated classmates—particularly that of Bruce Bennett-Jones—the couple lives in a realm of pure, indulgent pleasure. But, as is often the case, their fabled relationship is more complicated than it seems: despite their lust and urgency, their virginity remains intact, and as they struggle to understand each other, the relationship spirals into disaster.
The Virgins is the story of Aviva and Seung’s descent into confusion and shame, as re-imagined in richly detailed episodes by their classmate Bruce, a once-embittered voyeur turned repentant narrator. With unflinching honesty and breathtaking prose, Pamela Erens brings a fresh voice to the tradition of the great boarding school novel.