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Review: Kissing in America

Kissing in America - Margo Rabb

This was a bit of coverlust for me. I didn't really give the blurb much more than a glance other than knowing it was something to do with a road trip and a girl who loved romance novels. I was surprised about how thoughtful and moving it was.

 

Eva is struggling with the devastating loss of her father and hides in romance novels. Her mother is a firm feminist who seems to mostly roll her eyes at the romance novels her daughter loves and buries herself in her work. Eva seems very sheltered. Her character growth is pretty incredible. She meets a boy from her high school through a school programme where they are both tutors. They develop a great camaraderie. Eva has a delightful tone of voice, sort of snarky but at the same time, she's nice and very likeable. Her best friend Amy is there for her and at her side throughout pretty much everything as a best friend should be instead of colorful YA windowdressing. Amy is incredibly  smart and Eva writes poetry. Amy not so into romance novels.Despite their differences they are a great team together. 

 

The loss of Eva's father is heart wrenching, especially when you learn more about what happened to him. I've come across so many YA novels with dead or a missing/uninvolved parent which just seem to be more a plot point to gain sympathy for the main character or just to give them more freedom (its almost feels like, let's get rid of one parent the other can bury themselves in work and give the teen heroine the freedom to fall in love or save the world or whatever the plot may be). In this case the grief worked in so deep and profound, its considerate and very moving to learn how Eva and her mother cope so differently and how it affects some of Eva's decisions. 

 

Her budding romance with Will is sweet as she is constantly comparing it to the romance novels she reads whilst trying to work out her own feelings. What happens in romance novels is not really how it works. There's some good funny imaginative parts where she imagines how her relationship with Will would read as if it was happening in a novel. But when Will moves across country to California things change.

 

So...with Amy's help and the help of a reality TV show they apply to be on, they manage to convince their parents to let them travel to Los Angeles to be on the TV show (and Eva thinks she can see Will while she's there). Nothing goes according to plan, they wind up with Eva's over protective Aunt, some relatives of Eva's mother's boyfriend, and some of Amy's relatives. The road trip is a lot of fun as they travel from city to city via the bus and meet an assortment of different people on the way.

 

We learn more about Eva's father, there's a great deal of drama with Eva's mother and her boyfriend.  Of course, when they finally do reach Los Angeles nothing goes according to plan and Eva makes some pretty stupid decisions which have some consequences on her friendship with Amy. 

 

By the end, a realistic, sensible conclusion was reached. Very deep and moving. (It made me cry a little). Some of the drama was a little over the top, but over all the novel was very well written. Great characterization, enjoyable voices, and very moving. 

 

Crosses off a Square for Bookish Bingo Summer 2015 - Young adult