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Oct. 19, 2021 | Tuesday
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Nellwyn Lampert: Every Boy I Ever Kissed
Nellwyn Lampert, NOTL born author of Every Boy I Ever Kissed. (Supplied)

NOTL native Nellwyn Lampert says there was a gap in the conversation about dating, sex and feminism for young woman – so she resolved to tell her own stories in the coming of age memoir, Every Boy I Ever Kissed.

Her first book, a memoir that was published on Saturday by Dundurn Press, is a narrative about trying and failing to lose her virginity. Though she eloquently recounts her own personal experiences, she says the book doesn’t feel like it’s about her at all.

“It’s weird, because it’s a book about me, but it’s oddly not about me. I just think about that 17-year-old girl who’s going to read it, and that’s just what I focus on.”

The 29-year-old feminist says she’s always been a writer. Though she has “dipped her toe” in other career paths and jobs, she says writing has always been the end goal. She earned a master of fine arts degree in creative nonfiction from the University of King’s College in Halifax.

She works as a freelance writer and editor from her Toronto home, but she says she makes a point to visit NOTL once a month to touch base with her supportive family, whom she credits with laying the foundation for her love of literature and the arts. This book wouldn’t have become a reality without their support, she says.

She notes that her openness likely comes from growing up in a small town – that isn’t a quality she plans to leave behind.

“I bring that small-town attitude with me.”

“I think, coming from Niagara-on-the-Lake, it made me a much more open person, a more friendly person. I’m always going to be that small-town girl, because I’m going to talk to that stranger in the elevator, I’m going to bake cookies for my neighbours.”

She says she initially put a lot of the blame for her failed sexual experiences on the fact that she was stuck in a small town.

She cited reasons for her failures – there weren’t enough boys in town, or she would find more like-minded people once she moved to the big city – for her unpleasant experiences.

She says she realized each encounter likely fell flat in her expectations because of the constant need to meet some idealized image of what those moments should look like.

She was armed with her own raw experiences and had those stories to tell. The potential to guide future generations of young women toward a more realistic ideal of their own sexual identity through that narrative was enough of a reason to bare her soul publicly, she says.

The memoir connects the crucial moments and the vulnerability that arise while young women are developing their own identity, sexuality and self-worth.

“I feel there is this image in the media and society that’s idealized about who we have to be as liberated, modern, empowered feminist women,” Lampert says, and she wasn’t seeing anything that reflected what was actually being experienced by many women.

“A lot of women aren’t having that idealized lifestyle.”

Much of the media’s representation of virginity is just wrong and often sexist, she says, even when they’re trying not to be.

“It’s the book that I needed to read, but it didn’t exist. So, I wrote it.”

The memoir is an easy read, told in the voice of a young girl who is trying to actualize her own personal identity while at the same time trying to establish her place amid the expectations of her peers and society.

Lampert touches on the self-doubt, exhilaration, dread, anticipation and disenchantment of each defining moment from her adolescence to adulthood – painting a vivid picture of the all-too-familiar struggle modern women face in regard to their own sexual identity.

“I think it’s really important for young women to take some of the pressure off of what they think their dating life, or their sex life, should look like. And I think it’s important to give young women more authentic and more honest representations of those ups and downs,” she says.

Every Boy I Ever Kissed can be found at Chapters/Indigo bookstores, as well as online at Amazon and through Lampert's website,