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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Fifteen-year-old English boys Vic and Enn go to a party to meet girls. Enn, the narrator, mentions he has kissed a few of his sisters’ friends, and Vic has had girlfriends. Vic urges his nervous friend just to talk to the girls and try to listen to them. When the boys arrive at the party, Vic starts flirting with a pretty girl named Stella. Enn wanders off by himself in an effort to meet someone.

Enn joins a girl who is sitting alone. She tells him her name is Wain’s Wain, meaning that she is the progeny of someone named Wain and must report back to her. She explains that she is a “second” because of her imperfect pinky finger, which splits into two smaller fingertips. She tells him she’s not from around here and talks about her travels. She mentions interesting sites she witnessed at Carnival in Rio. Enn, who doesn’t know what to say, asks her to dance. She tells him it’s forbidden, so he offers to get her a drink. When he returns, she’s gone.

He checks in on Vic and Stella, who are dancing. Enn finds another girl with dark, spikey hair and offers her the water he’d gotten for Wain’s Wain. She tells him she loves being a tourist and says how much she enjoyed her last tour to the sun. She says she swam in sunfire pools with the whales. She laments having to come to “world” this time rather than return to the sun, and she goes on about the discomfort of putting on a fleshly body to be here.

Once again, Enn ignores his complete inability to understand her and focuses on putting his arm around her. Just then, Vic interrupts and calls him over. Vic says he’s discovered they’re at the wrong party, but that it’s OK for them to stay. Vic and Stella go upstairs together. When Vic heads back to the spikey-haired girl, several other people have taken his place.

Enn heads to the kitchen, where he drinks some Pernod and meets a girl named Triolet. She tells him she is like a poem. She explains that her people knew their world would end, so they wrapped all of their dreams and yearnings into a pattern or poem that would allow the words to live forever. They sent the poem across the universe, beaming out the message in pulses of light. Other beings inhabited the poem and it inhabited them, she says, and the poem took flesh and walked around.

Meanwhile, Enn is focused on moving his leg closer and pressing it against hers. She keeps talking about the poem, and Enn is pleased that she’s touching his arm affectionately. She touches her lips to his in something like a kiss, then offers to share the poem with him. She begins to whisper something in his ear. He can’t understand the words, but the rhythm washes over him.

Just then, Vic dashes up and says they have to leave. Triolet is disappointed that she doesn’t get to finish her poem, but Vic is insistent. Enn looks up the stairs and sees the disheveled Stella, whose eyes he would never forget. Thirty years later, as he’s telling the story, he remembers they looked like an angry universe.

The boys run for a long time, until Vic stops and throws up in the gutter. He begins to sob as he tries to explain what he’s experienced. Enn says he still can’t imagine what Vic saw that night that terrified him so badly. Enn tries to remember the poem Triolet told him, but he cannot.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Enn mentions that his parents like to know where he is. On the night of the party, he tells them he’s staying with Vic. Vic is the youngest of five boys, and Enn says his parents don’t keep a close eye on him.


The Lord’s name is used in vain. The word b--tard and screw are used.


Enn has kissed three girls who were friends of his sisters. He says Vic will soon be snogging — kissing intensely and cuddling — the prettiest girl at the party.

Enn remembers how Vic once stole a pornographic magazine. The shop owner caught him and made him return it. Enn is overwhelmed thinking about girls getting periods and breasts. He calls Vic a smooth b--tard when Vic latches on to the prettiest girl at the party.

A 1970s punk band called the Sex Pistols is mentioned. Enn says he tries not to stare when he sees the breasts of a girl in a low cut shirt. Vic takes Stella upstairs, and she later appears with clothes in disarray and makeup smudged. Enn and Triolet kiss. Enn tries to understand why Vic didn’t screw Stella.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Alcohol: Vic brings wine. There are also other types of alcohol at the party.

Life issue: Wain’s Wain says a decision had to be made whether she would be eliminated because of her deformed pinky.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

14 to 19


Neil Gaiman






Record Label



Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; 2006, in the collection titled Fragile Things: Short Fiction and Wonders


On Video

Year Published



Locus Magazine Award, 2007


We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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