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Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?: A Novel Hardcover – June 4, 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Thompson Square is an American country music duo composed of husband and wife Keifer and Shawna Thompson.

Critically acclaimed author Travis Thrasher has written more than thirty books. He lives with his wife and three daughters in a suburb of Chicago.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?

Daniel in Distress

I ENTER THE ROOM to find this uncreative sack in a suit sitting there, and then I find myself thinking of Casey. This isn’t unusual, since I do it all the time, but this is one of those moments I really wish she were here. I wish she were right next to me so we could be laughing about this in about an hour. I sorta know what’s about to happen. I know that in just a few moments, I’m about to be let go as the head songwriter for The Dandee Donuts show.

Yeah, I know. There’s a reason I haven’t really told many people about my stint on Dandee Donuts. Most surely think Daniel has gone into hiding, playing his guitar and trying to finally make an album that would make the Boss smile. But no. Daniel is in isolation in Seattle, where the weather seems to match his mood.

This show makes The Wiggles look genius. No offense to The Wiggles. They really are a great show for kids, but I am not married and don’t have any kids, and after working on Dandee Donuts, I don’t want kids. I don’t want them suckered by smiling corporate zombies like this one.

Daniel, have a seat, the rather soft handshake offers.

This guy’s name is Stan Terma-something. I always think Terminal. Like terminal cancer. I know it’s not Terminal, but I can’t help thinking it. He’s my boss’s boss and only gets involved in meetings like this because my boss, Cynthia, is too weak to let anybody go or make any sort of decision.

“It’s always a rather unfortunate part of my job to have meetings like this,” Stan says to me. “We’re all about ‘rising up’ around here.”

I seriously want to throw up. He’s using part of the marketing and sales copy for kids in this meeting. “Rise up with Dandee Donuts every morning at nine on the Sprout Channel!” Sometimes I hear that commercial in my sleep as I’m paddling down a jelly-filled river on my Long John.

Really, he’s being merciful. This is like the guy coming up to the dying soldier and putting a bullet in his head.

“I spoke with Cynthia and I know she’s informed you about our change of direction.”

“I understand,” I say.

It’s strange, really.

I’ve got a stack of bills on my counter in the kitchen. And when I say stack, I mean a literal stack that can fall and decorate half the floor below. I’m behind in payments for a variety of reasons. I’m still getting paid, but this job hasn’t paid the way I thought it would. My father’s medical bills are really adding up, thanks to his awful insurance. And, well . . . the good old royalty checks haven’t come in lately.

For a second I think of Dad, and what he might have said years ago when his mind was all there and he tried convincing me this music thing wasn’t ever going to work.

Now it’s time to settle down and get a job and act like a grown-up.

In many ways, I wish he could say those very things now. It would mean the man I grew up loving to hate was still around. The figure sitting in that reclining chair in our old house—that’s not my father.

“You really have written some great songs.”

I bet nobody ever said that to Paul McCartney or Bruce Springsteen in that particular type of tone. Like someone sipping a soda and saying, “This is really amazing soda” in a monotone and lifeless way.

This is strange because I find it refreshing. I want to start singing myself, even though it’s been years since I finally accepted the fact that I’m not a very good singer.

“My kids still know all the lines to ‘Bizarre Love Sprinkle’.”

Trying to acquire the rights to do that song had been a nightmare, but coming up with lyrics for doughnuts arguing over what kind of sprinkles they wanted on top of New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle” took perhaps fifteen minutes and a bottle of wine.

“I can only take half credit for that one,” I say.

“It’s just that—I know that Cynthia and you haven’t been seeing eye-to-eye lately.”

I smile. “Yeah.”

“She told me about the argument in front of everybody.”

I nod. “Yeah.”

The meeting where I called her an absolute idiot and then proceeded to call her a few more things. This, of course, was after she rejected one of my songs by letting others make up her mind and convince her it didn’t work.

It’s a bit dark, someone said.

It’s kinda sad, someone else said.

Doughnuts aren’t sad, Cynthia said.

No, doughnuts are happy, someone else agreed.

I swear, if I have one more conversation about doughnuts, I’m going to go insane. I don’t ever want to see another doughnut in my life.

“Do you have anything to say?” Stan the Terminal Man asked.

“Do you like what you do?”

The question came out of my mouth before I could stop it.

“Of course.”

“No, I’m not asking whether you like being employed, or the fact that you have insurance and you get a check every other week. I’m not talking about how much you get paid and what you do and don’t do and how many days you take off a year. I’m asking, do you like what you do? Did you dream of this when you were a kid?”

“Excuse me?”

Stan’s attitude suddenly seems a bit more serious and stern. Maybe I’ve finally wakened this vampire from his eternal slumber.

“I’m not trying to be a pain in the butt,” I say. “Really. I just want an honest answer.”

“I’ve worked very hard to make this company what it is today, and I’m proud of the work we do. So yes, I love my job and love what it stands for and what we create.”

I think of that news report the other day that said something like half of the population is obese.

That’s what you create from this show. Happy little kids who keep munching, and then one day, they’re fifty years old but the munching hasn’t stopped and they no longer feel so Dandee.

I look him in the eyes, and it appears he’s not lying.

Along with sipping the Kool-Aid, he’s managed to eat the Dandee Donuts as well.

“I think it’s time to just call it a day,” Stan says to me. “Don’t you think?”

He’s talking down to me even though he’s really not that much older than I am.

I nod and stand up and shake that doughy hand again.

I bet he’s got cream filling in his soul.

See, this is the sort of thing that has happened to me. Every thought has a doughnut analogy.

I leave his office and close the door behind me.

I’m thirty-five years old, and the dream is officially over.

★  ★  ★

BRUCE REMINDS ME of what I really wanted to do later that night as I work my way through a six-pack of cheap beer and listen to Born to Run. This album always reminds me of my youth, when I discovered Springsteen and figured out what I wanted to do. I wanted to do that. I wanted to make soulful songs that stirred the heart and told stories. I wanted to be real. I wanted people to hear the sweat coming off those melodies.

Dad wanted me to be like my older brothers and excel in sports. But I couldn’t throw a football like Philip or hit a baseball like Jeff.

I wanted to follow my dreams, and that’s exactly what I did. Yet those dreams brought me here, to stale-doughnut land.

Yeah, I can hear you, you ghost and you demon and you angel all tied into one.

Casey knows about these dreams. We talked a lot about them. We even made a promise about them once.

I need to tell her. I need to finally tell her I can’t hold up my end of our deal.

Not that she wants to hear from me. Like, ever again. She’s moved on with her life and that’s what I should be doing with mine.

But if this is moving on, then, man, I cannot wait to see what my fortieth birthday holds for me, right, Case?

I’m talking to an imaginary Casey in my mind while I’m drinking bad beer and being reminded of real rock and roll.

I never thought I’d be such an awful failure at thirty-five. I want to say it is what it is, but I hate that saying. It was what it was, but right now, this moment, this very second that I’m thinking of Casey, really hurts.

Call Gary tomorrow and see if he has any kind of answer.

This thought is depressing, since Gary Mains is my manager in Nashville. My quasi-manager, to be honest, since I haven’t sold a song in years. I’ve been waiting for a follow-up call or e-mail from him since I sent him a CD of demo songs a few months ago.

When someone doesn’t call or e-mail after a few months, you know what the answer is.

There comes a point when everybody has to grow up and realize the dream isn’t going to happen. When the silence and the dim light of the room aren’t just a snapshot of your evening, but of your life. When the music doesn’t matter anymore and the words are no longer there. When you realize the world isn’t listening and maybe never listened to begin with.

If it’s really over, I need to tell her. I need to let her know that I broke the promise, that I broke our promise.

It’s been two years since I saw her. That doesn’t matter. I don’t know exactly where she is or what she’s doing, but that doesn’t matter either.

I need to tell her the dream is over. I need to give back a portion of my promise.

Maybe she can find something to do with it.

I’ve held it for long enough and it’s only brought me to this sad, sappy point.


I get out a notebook and start writing a letter. I don’t know any other way to get in touch with her. I’d text her if I had her number, but she changed that a long time ago. She’s not a social-network sort of gal, at least judging from the last few hundred times I searched for her on the Internet like a weirdo stalker boy. This is all I can do, this pen-to-paper sort of old-fashioned thing. I know her mother still lives in their house in Asheville, North Carolina. And last I checked, the post office still delivered letters.

After an hour and another Springsteen album and a few more beers, I’ve got a doozy of a letter. I’ve thought about telling her everything, but instead I simply say the following:

Dear Casey:

Are you gonna kiss me or not?


I fold it up and find an envelope and seal it. I’ll find the address of her mother tomorrow and will send it out.

This letter says everything I need to say. It says more than I ever could.

This is our history and our story, summed up by seven simple words.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Howard Books (June 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451698453
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451698459
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.3 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,446,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A tale of love lost and rekindled, based on the hit Country song of the same title.

When I found out that Travis Thrasher was working with Thompson Squaure to write Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not? I just knew that I had to read it! Not only do I absolutely adore the song, but everything I have read by Mr. Thrasher has been amazing. So I had high expectations for this book, and it didn't let me down! I dove right into the story intrigued by the story and how the title would tie into the story. I loved the way that the story moved and shifted back and forth from the past to the present day, and from first person, to third person point of view. Usually both of those things drive me crazy, but with this story it worked, and I loved it.

I sped through this book, turning the pages steadily. I loved the way that Casey and Daniel connected and from the outside they were an unexpected couple, and how the book told their story through the years.

Overall, I throughly enjoyed this book from beginning to finish, it caught my attention from the very beginning. I definitely hope that Mr. Thrasher writes more books based on Country songs in the future!

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a big fan of Travis Thrasher, I was very excited about this new book. I'll admit I'm not a country music fan, so I didn't know Thompson Square too well. I have heard the song, and was impressed with the strong lyrics and basis for a story.
Seemed a natural fit for a novel.
It can e difficult to turn a song into a 367 page novel. I thought Thrahsre does a superb job of keeping your interest and keeping the story flowing. I found myself reading at an accelerated pace to find out what would happen to this couple next. That's a huge compliment for a character driven story!
It's no mystery Daniel and Casey will get together. The question is how. They meet in high school and the book traces their jounry throughout their lives. Lots of very realistic obstacles stand in their way. The ending isn't difficult to predict. It's the clever way the ending comes about that impressed me.
There are plenty of laughs, which a trademark of Thrasher's writing. Even his horror novels have some humor.
If this is your first time reading Travis, I assure you all his books are this well written!
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Format: Hardcover
"It's music, the thing that drives this world and makes soulless people like you even try to feel. It's the backdrop of our lives and the soundtrack of our hearts."

I really enjoyed this book! I found it to be genuine and relevant and inspiring.

"The first album is one of those Adele wannabes who have suddenly sprouted up on the scene. I'm suspicious and skeptical, but then it only takes two songs until I'm sold. You can't overproduce passion and you can't fake something from the soul. This young lady is heartbroken and singing from a place very few of us can get to in life.
It gives me goose bumps."

The craziest and most amazing thing about it is the way that pretty much every sentence - every line and thought - would make an incredible lyric for a song...

"A song is just another way to speak the truth. Lyrics are just another form of therapy."

Every chapter in the Past was entitled with a song title... I love that! I also love that the Present chapters were not entitled that way...

"That's the beauty of music.
The stories of every pop or country song ever sung are potential and promise. The potential of finding that special someone. The promise that tomorrow will no longer be as lonely as today. The songs lift you up and make you brave as you go out into the dark night in search of love and belonging. Then the songs comfort you as you come back home alone and tired."

"I want to believe in a simple melody complex enough to move the masses. I want to strive for a simple chorus memorable enough to be sung in the stadiums. A love song that makes up for those long nights and those lost days. A lovely song filling in the grays with blues and making the melancholy go away.
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Format: Hardcover
I know the story is based upon the hit song by Thompson Square, but the name that got to me to pick up this book is Travis Thrasher. Regardless of genre -- and Thrasher has written in several, including suspense, romance, and drama -- I know I'm going to enjoy the story when his name is on the cover.

The story isn't really anything new: Boy notices girl, girl ignores boy, boy and girl realize they have something in common and become friends, they separate and live different lives, but in the end they get back together. It's in the details that the story becomes something special, and that's where Travis Thrasher excels. His ability to strike a chord within the reader is evident through insight and humor, as is evidenced in the following passages from the book:

"Thirty-five years old and so incomplete, like a record collection missing all the B's, like the Beatles and the Bee Gees and the Beach Boys.

"What a travesty that would B." (page 176)


and this conversation between Daniel and Casey:

Daniel starts the conversation, "You love me for the dreams in my heart."

"I love you for having dreams to begin with."

"I thought it was for my rock-hard abs."

"Well, yes, I love your sense of humor, too," Casey said. (page 151)

Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not? is a fun summer read with likeable characters, humor, heartbreak, and joy. I wholeheartedly recommend this book.
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