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Kiss & Make Up Hardcover – October 2, 2012

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Editorial Reviews Review

A Q&A with Katie D. Anderson

Question: When did your love affair with make-up begin?

Katie Anderson: I can't remember a time when I didn't LOVE makeup. Cosmetics are like watercolors and my face, a canvas. However, it's funny, I don't even wear that much. My best friend just read the book and said, "Shoot. With the amount of cosmetics in here, you'd think you'd be made up like Tammy Faye Baker. But you're not? Why DO you love it so much?" I'm not sure. It's artistic. And I'm good at applying it. I liked giving makeovers as a kid. My daughter is the same way. Maybe it's genetic. Also, I think as a teen I never felt pretty and makeup had this magical power to transform. Though in truth, I realized it can't make a person feel pretty. That feeling comes from inside and isn't sold in tubes and compacts.

Q: Is anything from the book (aside from the makeup obsession) autobiographical?

KA: No. But in retrospect, I realized that I was like Emerson in that I was a fairly popular girl who was secretly intrigued by the less popular boys. I remember being fascinated by the romantic relationships that formed in social circles other than my own. And while there wasn't a boy like Edwin I liked, I wouldn't have been courageous enough to date him if there were. I would have dated a Vance type and suffered. So I guess I wanted to write a new story for a braver teenage Katie, a do-over.

Q: Was Emerson’s superpower one you always imagined or was it just the perfect tie-in to a fictional cosmetic related story?

KA: Totally fictional. And the cosmetics idea came much later in the writing, like a year or so later. I woke up in the middle of the night with the idea to name the chapters after different shades of lip gloss. I have always loved the names of nail polish colors and wanted to do something similar. I decided to create a Willy Wonka type scenario with makeup instead of chocolate. It was really, really fun.

Q: Was it important to set the story in the South and why?

KA: The South is what I call home and I just love it. This book wasn't actually as Southern at first. But I think I'll always write about the South. I love the food, the slower pace, the ties to tradition, the whole personality of it. I grew up in Virginia, but when I moved to Mississippi, I knew I had come home.

Q: Were you inspired by your 11 and 15-year-old daughters’ lives when writing this book?

KA: Not as much as you'd think. I heard a writer once say that most writers struggled with a particular time in their life and so they are stuck writing about it, perhaps in an effort to redo that troubled period. For me, it was my teenage years. I didn't have a very good sense of who I was and so I think I will always write about women who are trying to find that. I hope my own girls have a stronger sense of self than I did at their age.

Q: What would you like girls to take away from this book?

KA: First of all, I just hope it makes them smile and they enjoy it. I'd also like for them to understand that being the most popular or the prettiest face in school is not what will ultimately bring you happiness. I believe that each of us is unique like a snowflake, beautiful in her own right, created like no one else, and designed and equipped to do things only she can do. I wish girls would relax and trust that.

From Publishers Weekly

A kiss is but a kiss—unless 16-year-old lip gloss fanatic Emerson Taylor is the one puckering up. When Emerson kisses someone, she can see into his or her mind. Her secret gift mostly generates anxiety, until she discovers that kissing smart boys, aka “Ivys,” can help her academic performance. Emerson plans to smooch her way to better grades (a fairly depressing premise) and stay enrolled at her pricey prep school, bolstered by a supply of lip gloss from her aunt Arch, a cosmetics rep who has been raising Emerson and her sister since their mother disappeared. Roadblocks pop up as Emerson fights with her sister and her boy-crazy BFF, starts to develop a reputation (due to all her kissing), and falls in love with the nerdiest Ivy of them all. Debut author Anderson, to her credit, uses this fun premise to get at deeper issues of teenage curiosity, identity, and self-doubt, as her characters play smartly off one another, and Emerson learns that the supernatural path to success isn’t necessarily the best one. Ages 12–up. (Oct. 2012)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 307 pages
  • Publisher: Skyscape (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076146316X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761463160
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (390 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,104,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Katie D. Anderson lives in the literary mecca of Oxford, Mississippi, where she believes she inhaled the desire to write from one of the trees lining William Faulkner's front yard -- that, or she ate it in the batter of fried pickles. She can't be sure. When she's not writing, Katie can be found hanging out with her husband, their two daughters, and one adorable dog. A regular contributor for Parade Magazine on the topic of raising teenagers, she has also had an article featured recently in The Huffington Post. KISS & MAKE UP is her first novel.

More information can be found at

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Patricia O'Sullivan on October 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Sixteen-year-old Emerson Taylor has never kissed a boy. Though this seems to be a big problem, a bigger one is brewing. Emerson's grades are slipping and her guardian, her Aunt Arch, is threatening to pull her out of the private school she attends. Emerson needs to turn things around fast. Luckily, Emerson learns she has the ability to read the mind of anyone she kisses. Emerson decides to kiss the nerdiest boys in school. Problem solved. But when she starts to fall for one of the boys, Emerson's life becomes a tangled mess.

Kiss and Make Up by Katie Anderson is a fun, YA story about friendship, first kisses, and first crushes. But it is also a story with deeper themes, and this is what makes the novel so wonderful. Emerson learns hard, and often humiliating, lessons about pre-judging others and true beauty.

Anderson has crafted a teen story without the typical cast of neglectful parents, rebellious kids, and uncaring teachers. Despite Emerson's clairvoyance, she is a refreshingly normal teen. This is not a story about vampires, zombies, death, addiction, bullying, divorce, poverty, or identity. Emerson's mistakes are her own, a result of her weaknesses rather than a response to the weaknesses of the adults in her life. And in the end, this is what I liked so much about Emerson. It doesn't take an apocalypse for her to change her ways, just a dose of good, old fashioned mother love.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Beulah on October 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Reading Katie D. Anderson's book, Kiss and Make Up, was a breath of fresh air! I thoroughly enjoyed it while laughing my way through Emerson Taylor's typical teenage dilemma of how to improve her grades. Many teens deal with low grades, but very few are able to improve them in Emerson's not-so-typical way. Emerson is blessed/cursed with the unusual ability to read other people's thoughts with just a kiss. When faced with bringing her grades up or leaving the private school she attends, she decides to take measures into her own hands, or should I say... lips! Kissing the "nerds" in order to download their thoughts becomes the solution to her problem, but it makes for some unexpected consequences. Not only do some interesting and humorous situations ensue, but Emerson comes to the end of her "selfish" self and blossoms into the loving, caring teenage girl we hope to see her become in this can't-put-it-down, don't-want-it-to-end book. I'll definitely read this one again, wait for Katie Anderson's next delightful story, and look forward to some really sharp movie studio making Kiss and Make Up into a hit movie!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By C. Schob on October 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I get sad when I finish a good book. It's like saying goodbye to an old friend. That's how I felt when I turned the last page in Katie D. Anderson's "Kiss & Make Up", the story of 16 year-old Emerson Taylor who has the mysterious and magical gift of being able to read a person's mind through a kiss. When she finds herself struggling to keep up in her high-end private school she concocts a plan to kiss the brainy boy "Ivys" to obtain their knowledge and turn her grades around. I have to admit I was a little unsure of how I felt about Emerson when I started reading, a little taken aback by her boy craziness and initial disdain for the "nerds", but as I got to know her, the more she grew on, a lot. Halfway through I was hooked and, as Emerson would say,
Throughout the story I saw Emerson coming into her own, transforming from an egotistical, immature girl to a responsible, altruistic young woman. In the end she had me pulling for her and hoping she would use her gift for good. She did not disappoint. Ultimately I found myself rooting for Emerson, adoring Edwin, despising Silas, empathizing with Arch, and thoroughly enjoying this book. Great debut, Katie D. Anderson. Now I will wait patiently for the sequel...hint hint. ;)
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By rdrgrl on October 7, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A terrific book that managed to be both fun and moving, with a bouncy commercial voice but some darker themes underneath (suicide, arson, possible abuse by a boyfriend.) The characters felt true and the writing was strong throughout. Emerson's relationship with Arch was particularly moving to me. My only issues were two areas that felt underdeveloped--the magic wasn't integrated well toward the beginning, and the situation with Silas (the sister's boyfriend) felt incomplete. I'm sure the latter was deliberate, but it came off as somewhat unresolved.

Also, a minor point, but something that's so rare in YA fiction. I loved how naturally faith was woven into the story, and with such a light touch. Faith is important in the lives of many teens, but so often it feels like it's a taboo subject in YA, unless a book is marketed specifically as Christian fiction.

I'll be looking forward to more from this author--this was an excellent debut.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By pegster6 on August 13, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First of all, this book contains no obscenities and nothing inappropriate for kids 11 and up, but also does contain a lot of laugh out loud wit, beautiful writing, and a really lovely message: Above all, be yourself. It also displays a deep Christian reverence, something not often found in fiction for young adults. I basically never give a book 5 stars but this one deserves it, for the above reasons but also for the reasons other readers have given.

Emerson is a messed-up teen but extremely likable and sympathetic. Most of the other characters are as well, including the parade of teenage boys (Ivys and non) and adults. The makeup names and tips are cleverly woven into the story (anyone who is or ever has been obsessed with makeup will delight in this aspect of the book). The lesson Emerson learns is a critical one for people on the cusp of adulthood to understand and internalize and she does it painfully but beautifully - and gets what appears to be a genuine HEA. AND she helps many other people at the same time. Just a delight to read! And again, the writing is very good, better than most in this genre I've read, by far. Ms. Anderson is an author with original ideas and the talent to write them well. Definitely an author to follow!
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