THIS IS A SPOILER DISCUSSION.
DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE SPOILED!!!
Seriously, y'all, this is a spoiler.
Eventually, Lala and Ben have sex--a first for both characters. It’s definitely meaningful to both of them, but for Lala losing her virginity has extra weight, as it means that she’s no longer eligible to marry in her traditional community. Both 100 percent want this, but they each have different expectations of the relationship and what taking it to this level means for their future. For Lala, while she has grown to care about Ben, this is as much part of her demonstrating to herself that she’s independent and providing herself with insurance that she truly cannot go back to her old life--this decision is permanent. Ben fantasizes that the two can somehow build a life together and sees their sexual relationship as a sign that that future may be possible. If a boy character used a female character for sex in this way--despite some level of caring between the two--I believe many readers would be outraged.